Archive | March, 2010

Dizzy Gillespie

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Why I Love Jazz

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Robert

To me, jazz is much more than the sound that vibrates your eardrums. It’s a complex style of music, it’s a culture. To me, there’s music, and then there’s jazz. When some people find out that I mainly listen to jazz, they think that it’s odd. I’ve even been told that I listen to “old people music.” I’m not offended by what people think because had they actually been exposed to jazz they would probably understand it the way you and I do.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO1uMjz3n3w

I believe that the number one thing going through the original jazzers minds was fun. Take for example the great video above featuring Louis Armstrong & Dizzy Gillespie. When I watch that video, I can’t help but smile and I almost wish that I had lived in that day. These guys didn’t worry about whether hip-hop is jazz. These guys didn’t worry about whether jazz is dead either (at least not yet). They were having a lot of fun!

Aside from having fun, jazz is also a very emotional genre of music. If you watch Ella Fitzgerald singing “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” you can almost feel what the song is conveying. The lyrics are masterful as is Ella’s delivery. To me, jazz is far more efficient at conveying emotion than any other genre.

The theory behind jazz is complex yet concrete. You have your standard progressions, throw your chord voicings on top with a sweet melody and you’ve got a jazz tune. Now that might sound simple, but as a musician I can say that I’ve failed many times trying to learn some of this theory. It’s tough. Not to mention that many of the times, the music is improvised. I’m always amazed at the technical proficiency of the musicians.

So, share with me please… what do you most like about this wonderful style of music?


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stackofcds

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10 Albums That You Must Own

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Robert

Here are 10 albums that you should go out and purchase right now if you don’t already own them. They aren’t in order of importance, because that it would be unfair for me to have to decide which ones rank higher. They are albums that have helped shape my love for this wonderful genre and I hope that they do the same for you (if they haven’t already.)

1. Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
2. The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out
3. Stan Getz & Joao Gilbert0 – Getz/Gilberto
4. Philly Joe Jones Dameronia – Look, Stop, and Listen
5. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstong – Ella & Louis
6. Chet Baker – The Best of Chet Baker Sings
7. John Coltrane – Blue Train
8. Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
9. Louis Armstong – Hot Fives & Sevens
10. Charles Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

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ThePursuit-thumb.jpg

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Review – Jamie Cullum’s “The Pursuit”

Posted on 27 March 2010 by Robert

Alright, let me come clean. Jamie Cullum is one of the first jazz artists that I ever got into. His sophomore album Pointless Nostalgic, and his third album Twentysomething were (and still are) gems in my jazz infancy. Having moved on to other artists, I unfortunately never had the chance to listen to his fourth album Catching Tales, but I plan on doing so soon.

Jamie’s fifth album, The Pursuit, is one that I’m interested in reviewing because of the mediocre reviews it received in Downbeat. Having read said review, I decided to give it my own chance, based on my own experiences and tastes. That said, here’s the review:

    The Tracks
    1. Just One Of Those Things
    2. I’m All Over It
    3. Wheels
    4. If I Ruled The World
    5. You And Me Are Gone
    6. Don’t Stop The Music
    7. Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down
    8. Mixtape
    9. I Think I Love
    10. We Run Things
    11. Not While I’m Around
    12. Music Is Through

1. Just One Of Those Things beings with a jazzy vocal & piano head. It’s definitely not as poppy as I was expecting it to turn out to be. In fact, the entire track swings, and swings better than any Jamie Cullum song I’ve heard to this day. There are two great solos in the track by the pianist and the saxophonist. The brass section delivers some great riffs and hits. This track left me excited to hear what else is on the album.

2. I’m All Over It – I’m going to go ahead and say it, I don’t like this one. I was extremely disappointed after being so excited about the first track. I believe that this song could be the worst on the album, with its cliche beat, quarter note piano chords and the choral hits. It is hard to explain this track, but you can hear it for yourself by following the linked title.

3. Wheels has a sort of train effect with the snare played with brushes. While listening to this song I kept thinking about Coldplay. It has got a very mellow feeling to it, stating “the wheels are falling off of the world.” I felt that the lyrics were a bit on the repetitive side and the track quickly faded into the background as I zoned out.

4. If I Ruled The World – This track brings me back to listening to Tony Bennett. Perhaps because he wrote it? The rhythym is all different, the drums are turned up and the keyboard has a rotating speaker effect which I found nice. I found the piano solo in this track very soothing and it was nice to listen to after a hard day of work. The solo has some accidentals thrown in which helps it stay on the jazz side. I found that Jamie’s distinct vibrato adds a lot to this track (and the entire album) by adding a lot emotion. When the track was over, I wanted to listen to it again.

5. You And Me Are Gone – This track begins with a cool piano riff in the lower end of the chromatic scale. It has a cool feel to it (sort of rowdy) and it swings. It has organ and it has nice piano and rhythm work. I like the block in the middle of the song. The piano solos are pretty jazzy. I would listen to it while driving. Not in the apartment.
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6. Don’t Stop The Music – This is a song that was originally sang by Rihanna. It’s a slower track that makes me feel nostalgic. The piano really adds a lot to this track, helping with the mellow-ness of the whole thing.

7. Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down – This track blended into “If I Ruled The World” because the drums sound similar and my computer was playing on random. Jamie’s falsetto in the beginning was kind of cliche. I felt that the horn section was kind of lame on this track as well, and didn’t get a very good feel for it.

8. Mixtape – This is a song about trying to win over someone by playing them a mixtape. Let me tell you right now that this is not a new idea, and this type of song has been done countless of times. This is a driving song with a fast beat. The interesting thing about this song is that the bridge is a half-time piano solo. It was enough to make my roommate and me look at each other and say “cool!” I give this song a thumbs up.

9. I Think I Love – This is a beautiful song that brings to mind dining in a classy restaurant with a live band (such as sambucas). Perhaps a nice dance with your significant other? This track is piano driven with some strings thrown in at the bridge. I think that this song is one of the top of the album. I’ll say that I like it.

10. We Run Things – The beginning is different. I’m not sure how to describe it. The song has a cool beat, This song is not jazzy at all, it’s pure pop. There is even a vibe solo thrown into this song. I’m not sure if they are really vibes or if it’s keyboard but I was surprised on a Jamie Cullum track. This is a good track for driving, but the jazzers probably won’t like it.

11. Not While I’m Around – When this track started I already felt like it was headed in the wrong direction. The beat is good but the piano and vocals are cliched, especially the lyrics. It’s something that you might hear in a romantic comedy. I found myself messing with the internet while this song was playing, as it was boring. I will say that the bridge was semi-decent… maybe. All-in-all, I really had to fight against skipping the track.

12. Music Is Enough – This is an energetic tack that has a dance feel to it. In fact, I’d say that it’s safe to say that it’s a track fit to be played at a dance club. Upon first listen I wasn’t too excited about this track but it grew on me. I do like it, and while it’s not jazz it does add to the energy of the album.

The Verdict
The Pursuit is not what I would call a jazz album. The Pursuit is more a pop album with some jazz elements. It is definitely more pop-oriented than his previous albums, but for the most part the music remains good. Hardcore jazz fans probably won’t like this album, while those who like jazz and pop will love it. I don’t think that jazz fans should go out and buy this album, but rather try out Just One Of Those Things, If I Ruled The World, You And Me Are Gone, and I Think I Love on iTunes.

Track listing

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So, tell me, what do you think?

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jazzfestival

Jazz Festival!

Posted on 25 March 2010 by Robert

The Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is scheduled the weekend of April 23-25. If you’ve never been you should definitely try to go. There will be many exciting bands there, notably Brave Combo,  Chick Corea And the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band (I’m finished with the links, I promise). There will be many other great artists there as well, including the U-Tubes.

Other than music, there will be some great art exhibits. If you open the first link I posted and go to the exhibits section, you’ll understand what I mean. Be sure to bring some cash because you won’t want to leave empty handed. It’ll be a great time to unwind, listen to some great jazz and look at some amazing art.

So if you’ve got any time off on the last weekend in April, come check it out.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s free to get it?

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bluescrn

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Windows Vista

Posted on 24 March 2010 by Robert

Wow, Windows Vista sure is a messed up piece of software. While trying to upgrade my roommates computer to Windows 7, I have run into hurdle after hurdle. I’m trying to figure out why his computer (Acer Aspire 5100) isn’t recognizing his CD/DVD drive as such. It only recognizes it as a CD drive. I’ve scoured the internet for drivers and there don’t seem to be any for the optical drive. Even on the Acer support site, there are drivers for every piece of hardware on the computer but the optical drive is left out.

After realizing that it has never been done, I’m running Windows Update on his computer in hopes that Microsoft has it’s own driver the the optical drive somewhere on the net. If this doesn’t fix it, I’ll have to do a USB install.

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