I Left My Heart In North Beach

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Web Free?

Yes, I've been away, on vacation in San Francisco, where I actually turned off my laptop. Haven't done that in a long long time. Of course I spent a few moments in a wired cafe every day, drinking coffee and checking my email, but aside from that, I was web-free for five days. As someone who spends ten hours a day, most days, on the web, producing sites, etc., I'd forgotten there is life outside the web. Angelina, my partner, told me it was the first time in memory she hadn't seen me multi-tasking. So both San Francisco, and vacations, are highly recommended.

We stayed in a cool place called Hotel Boheme, surrounded by photos of Ginsberg, Kerouac and all of the other cats who put together the Beat thing in that very neighborhood. We'd get up every morning and go downstairs to one of the Italian Cafes. A great way to start the day.

Jean-Michel Pilc at Pearl's

Heard the Jean-Michel Pilc Trio at an elegant club, Jazz at Pearl's, on Columbus Avenue in North Beach right across the street from the City Lights Bookstore. Pilc is an audacious pianist and his trio, together for several years now, can really generate some electricity. His website , which I produced, tells the tale, and features his new solo piano CD, Follow Me.

Pilc is playing at the Jazz Bakery this week in LA and if you're in the area, it's worth a trip. His drummer is really something, a true musical voice, Ari Hoenig. This cat reminds me of Paul Motian, in that he's more than a timekeeper, he's a painter working on an exquisite musical canvas. When you meet him, he looks like a rather ordinary fellow, but when he plays, he twists and contorts his face. It's as if the music is passing through his body to his face. Hoenig and the bassist, Francois Mouton, also a monster player, are in perfect sync with Pilc. Consequently the group improvisation they favor, can be quite invigorating.

Pilc, a man who graduated from the most prestious science college in France, starts playing solo piano. He works on a phrase, methodically, an idea, a motief, Hoenig picks up on it, and the dialogue begins, quickly growing in intensity. Mouton jumps in and the music can really take off.

Check out this video clip of the Pilc Trio in concert.

Looking for Cool Content

As fate would have it, Google and Yahoo aren't really the best places to look for music and audio. For media searches, I recommend Alta Vista and a new media search engine Singing Fish . Both allow searching specifically for audio and video in the format of your choice. You can just go to one of these media search engines and look for something specific, or just something very broad, like Jazz.

I usually search for specific artists and sometimes, I strike gold. Remember, there are literally hundreds of millions of people using the web globally, and putting up websites. Although there are rights issues, people put up content just because they like it. They don't do it to make money, it's just that their enthusiastic about something and want to share it.

While writing this, I jumped over to Alta Vista's Video Search, requesting content that's longer than a minute (that eliminates all the short clips), and in any format, using the search word Jazz. It came back with 338 entries, most of which were useless, but I did find:

Duke Ellington's Symphony in Black .

Digital Downloads (one of my favorite topics)

I've been hanging out at Rhapsody lately, taking advantage of their two free weeks offer.

For $9.95 a month, you get access to their library of 35,435 artists, 59,262 albums and 745,088 tracks. That's a lot to choose from. A hell of a lot. Burning the tracks onto a CD is extra, $.99 a track.

If you want cheaper, jump over Walmart's Download store, where tracks are only $.69. The idea that Walmart has a digital downloads store absolutely blows my mind. But it makes perfect sense because the market place for digital downloads is only going to keep growing.

In 5-8 years, most people will get most of their music via downloads. The market for digital video and audio files is staggering. We're talking about billions of dollars. That's why Walmart is already in the marketplace.

There will be three or four major players, like I-Tunes and Rhapsody, a few others. They'll be the high volume, numbers driven destinations, selling millions of downloads every day. And then there'll be the other sites, more genre specific.

When will this happen, Mr. Soothsayer? When will the world be encoded into a compatible file format?
  1. Everybody has to have broadband
  2. The price of downloads has to be $.25

Twenty five cents for a track? Doesn't that "cheat" the musicians, our Greek chorus intones? (Thankfully, the chorus works for scale.)

No, because more people will have access to the music.

Today 100 million people are on the web specifically looking for music. Either content they can access via download or streaming, info about music, buying CDs and DVDs, etc.

If you figure 1 percent of those are looking for Jazz, that's a million people.

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