I think we all look for auspicious signs around the time of the New Year–signs of good fortune to come, signs of disasters to avoid, signs of hope. Indeed, there are many rituals from many cultures intended to tilt the cosmic game in one’s own favor. For the start of 2011, I did nothing more profound nor bizarre than to turn my radio dial to 91.5 WUNC as I drove down to Pittsboro to check on the latest progress of my construction project. Suddenly I found myself listening in on a conversation with John McLaughlin about spirituality in music. Having seen John and his band play in Raleigh just a few months ago at the Lincoln Theater, hearing him talk about A Love Supreme was like music to my ears. And I’m still jazzing strong about his latest release, To The One, which was nominated for a Grammy award last year, and which totally deserves to win it this year. (more…)
January 20, 2011
December 12, 2009
Jazz, of course, is open source all the way — it’s the ultimate freedom machine. Once you’ve grasped the melody line and basic chord structure of any song, you’re on your own, encouraged to take the author’s initial inspiration anywhere you wish. A jazz musician isn’t judged by the faithfulness of his rendition but by what he codes at the musical keys.
Even the legal underpinnings of jazz are different, at least in the trenches. No one who is really serious about jazz goes out and buys, say, an Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis or Mahavishnu John McLaughlin song book, setting down note for note what the great musician played. How could you? They played it different every time.
December 4, 2009
On December 3rd I attended the Jazz Loft Project book and website launch event at the West End Wine Bar in Durham, NC. WUNC’s Frank Stasio, always on top of local goings on, clued me in. It was packed, despite the venue being situated by LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY signs from all approaches. Where else would Jazz fans congregate, if not in some well-hidden bar that’s so small you’d need three of them just to hold all the people who came to hear the music?
Needless to say I bought the book, got it signed, and have since met people who are on their third reading of the text. I’m trying to save it for Christmas!
I look forward to the time when, perhaps 40 years from now, The Miraverse has become the definitive archive for a new collection of music representing a meaningful continuum of talent and community.
October 28, 2009
Listen all the way through for the twist!
October 5, 2008
Last month at the Ars Electronica 2008 conference and festival, I had a chance to discuss with a number of very smart folks both my physical studio project, Manifold Recording, and my approach to creating a new recording environment/context, the Miraverse. In the course of those discussions, a number of people mentioned Jazzin the Black Forest, a Book/DVD combination that documents the amazing history of the German MPS label.
The letters MPS stand for “Most Perfect Sound”, and as John Kelman writes…
September 29, 2008
Joi Ito invited me to be a speaker at the 2008 Ars Electronica Symposium and Festival, held each year in Linz, Austria. I chose to speak about Music, Software, and Sustainable Culture, tying together my free software and free culture sensibilities. But after discharging those responsibilities, and after meeting tons of new people and sharing lots of new information, it was time to come home.
September 16, 2008
Page counts and advertising revenues may be down at our local newspaper, the News and Observer, but we still subscribe because it still brings us a lot of good news, reporting, and commentary. This morning I read a particularly inspiring article about John Heitzenrater, an expert in South Asian instruments.
The article begins by noting that Heitzenrater’s roots are Swedish, his accent American, “[but] when John Heitzenrater fiercely strums the sarod, the music resonates, transcending geographical and ideological boundaries.”
It turns out that Heitzenrater was inspired by one of the great boundary-trascendents, John McLaughlin…
July 26, 2008
Last week Lyle Estill was scheduled to give a reading at Quail Ridge Books and I was asked to introduce him. After his reading, which was excellent, and the questions, which were semi-interesting, he set himself to signing books for the 30+ people who came to hear him that evening. And, being in one of the best real, local bookstores, I set myself to browsing. I wandered over to the Music section, and was stunned to see that one of my favorite bass players, Victor Wooten, had written a book called The Music Lesson. I cracked it to a random page, read the passage that said
“Sharing is on e of the most important tools needed for personal growth,” he once told me, also stating that many people never come to understand that point. He said that many of us try to hoard our knowledge in order to stay ahead of everyone else. I understood that completely because I used to use the same method.
I had a trip to Oregon coming up, and I realized that with this book, I could be spending time with my man Victor. Do you want to know what it was like?
June 7, 2008
Last month I had the opportunity to read Power, Passion, and Beauty, the story of the Mahavishu Orchestra, published by AbstractLogix. As many of you can imagine, I’m a huge fan of John McLaughlin, and as a fan, the book did not disappoint. Meticulously researched the book’s organizing structure of a timeline lets history tell the story without the author getting in the way. And what a history it was…
May 13, 2008
First, there is the premise, which Herbie lays on the line straightaway: that to grow as a musician, he must walk outside the lines of his comfort zone, meeting other artists halfway or more than halfway. In the first few segments, he explains this idea of sharing, give-and-take, and you can see the chosen artists saying “yes” but acting as if “OH MY GOD! IT’S HERBIE HANCOCK!! WHAT DO I DO?!?!?” It takes Herbie a few times to really get the message “just be yourself” through through to them.