Bret Primack offers his thoughts on the issues facing Jazz and the Internet...
I remember, quite well, the first time I met Sonny Rollins. It was in the fall of 1978, when I was writing for Down Beat. For a cover story, I traveled to his upstate New York home for an interview with the Saxophone Colossus.Over the years, I'd heard his music, both on recordings, and some remarkable performances. I'd also read all about this fellow and the more dramatic episodes of his life. Although he had a reputation as being a heavy cat, I wasn't intimidated at the prospect of meeting him.But after his wife Lucille picked ...read more
A newly discovered live performance with fine acoustics, Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker at Town Hall in 1945, and, Sonny Rollins' great new CD, recorded live at Berklee on September 15, 2001, have been instrumental in my survival this summer. Since I returned from a three week New York excursion in June (video to follow), it's been at least one hundred degrees every day here in Tucson. Of course the discomfort of a brutal summer in the desert pales in comparison with the mayhem and madness of our times. Thank God for this music. It keeps me sane. Always has, always will.read more
That pretty sounds cool, right? It certainly has to be better than regular television. During the fifth season of the Sopranos, I had digital cable, access to hundreds of channels, and most of time, nothing of interest. I don't like sports or shopping so that immediately cuts out a lot of channels. And in Arizona, where there are few African Americans, the local PBS station airs old Lawrence Welk programs every Saturday night. What do I like that I can't find? Jazz. It's largely absent from existing television. Oh yes, there's that gloried public access channel, BET on ...read more
I once wrote a play set in the near future, when a one world government decrees that musicians must play the song." No other music is allowed. Everything else has been destroyed, except for the memories of certain musicians. In this petrified, angst ridden nether land, improvisation is banned and bebop is forbidden--any musician who disobeys is either shot on sight, or sent to a government re-education camp. In 1992, when I wrote this for a Jazz Theatre Workshop project I was doing at the New School Jazz program, the premise seemed intriguing but unlikely. Today, I just don't know.read more
Dr. Billy Taylor: An American Classic
As a teenager, forty years ago, living in a New York suburb, I first heard Billy Taylor on WNEW-AM. He played great music, and was so cool and informative that he proved to be the catalyst for even greater exploration in my increasing fascination with Jazz. When I finally moved to Manhattan several years later, he became a regular part of my day on WLIB.
Over the past four decades, I've heard him live, with great Trios, and enjoyed his work on NPR, CBS Sunday morning and with Jazzmobile, the ...read more
During a recent trip to the Bay area, at the invitation of publicist extraordinaire Terri Hinte, I made my first visit to Fantasy Records, in Berkeley. For the last quarter century, I have been listening, intently, to Fantasy releases. As their website explains, the Fantasy story is actually the story of a number of outstanding record labels which, over the last quarter century, have happened to find themselves under one roof."?My first Fantasy releases, back in the 60s, were Lenny Bruce's recordings, which had a tremendous impact on my teenage years. I can still recite one of his ...read more
"Those who cannot learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them." ~George SantayanaThese kids, here, they are the future of Jazz. Students at Leal Middle School, San Antonio, Texas, listening to the Jim Cullum Jazz Band . Mr. Cullum, an NPR staple with his long running, Riverwalk Jazz , is creating a Jazz Video curriculum aimed at inner-city San Antonio kids, grades 3-6.Up on Albany Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut, the Artists Collective, brings creativity and spirit into the lives of young people with an ongoing program of classes and workshops. Jackie ...read more
I write now of heroes, a species that in our time, has become as rare as an oasis in the desert. My heroes aren't Greek gods, they are merely mortal, yet like their divine counterparts, they also possess something eternal - their music. Whatever the joy and pain of their earthbound tenure, the creations of these passionate, remarkably inimitable people will sooth and inspire until we finally self-destruct. It appears that may be sooner than later.The lion's share of these heroes have passed, remnants of bygone era when cultural icons were artists prized for their ...read more
A couple of weeks ago Concord bought Fantasy for a small fortune, over $80 million, to be exact. Who says there's no money in Jazz?A bunch of hard working, dedicated people at Fantasy just picked up the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and that's always nice. Over the last thirty or so years, they developed and nurtured one super-heavy catalogue, some of the best music ever recorded. Between Fantasy, Riverside, Prestige, Milestone, Pablo, and Contemporary, we're talking major Jazz history here. Disclaimer: I have written liner notes for the label, including priceless ...read more
This year, listeners will spend $256 million dollars on legitimate sites selling downloads, like I-Tunes. In 2005, $541 million. By 2007, $2.1 billion. That's the new music business. Goodbye CDs, hello digital media. If people are downloading files and getting tracks, is this the modern equivalent of the 45? Not quite, but we may be witnessing the end of the album era.The current legal downloading landscapes includes several major players, notably Apple, who has two thirds of the market thanks to the success of the I-Pod, Rhapsody, a division of Real Media, a legal version of Napster, Music ...read more
Is it possible for a musician, virtually unknown, to gain recognition via the web? Yes.Three years ago, I met a New York guitarist named Dom Minasi who needed a website. I really didn't know the fellow, or his music, but I knew the name from a couple of Blue Note recordings he did decades ago. I heard his new music, liked it, and found Dom and his wife Carol, a vocalist, to be intense, passionate folks so I signed on to his comeback crusade.I did the website, and using it as the center of activities, Dom ...read more
For a lifelong Jazz aficionado, one of the coolest things about the Net is that it offers unique ways to discover new music. Lately, I've been listening to soundclips, online radio and legal downloading services. And thanks to my broadband connection, friends email me MP3 files, so there's no shortage of new music coming out of my computer speakers.Although the marketing and delivery of digital music improves daily, it's still the recommendation of a friend that matters most. This is viral marketing, when one person turns another on to a track, an artist, or a recording, and then ...read more
December 26, 1994 - the first time I got on the web. The Internet has changed my life dramatically, so it's no surprise I recall my maiden voyage.The early websites were primitive. No streaming media or MP3 files. No broadband, unless you worked for someone with T-1 line. For most people, it was the world wide wait.The dot.com era was just beginning, so webmakers weren't interested in making money, yet, just being part of a community, or starting one. Through links I quickly found my community. And that's when I knew that the Net was the ...read more
Are you ready for a new medium that offers listeners an uncensored experience? It's called satellite radio and thankfully, at the present time, it is not overseen by the US government. Like the web, the adult nature of the medium is going to build a sizeable listenership very quickly. Within a few years, look for an audience of ten million. Although they will come looking for adult content, once they get there, those listeners are going to be checking out the other offerings on the services as well.Howard Stern, the self-pronounced King of All Media" made satellite radio ...read more
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