Published since 2004
A professional transient wandering Earth's extreme regions.
Pledge allegiance to those following a Duke.
That would be candidate Ellington in this case, as music fans willing to invest nothing more than a few hours clicking a mouse can become a voice of authority about the jazz scene in the legend's home town. The Post is now offering free MP3 downloads at its web site, which as of August 2004 contains about 230 jazz songs by 85 performers totaling 18 hours in length (the number of songs in all categories is considerably larger).
Participating musicians contribute anywhere from one short song to several extended-length tracks, provide generally well-written overviews of their work and offer links to sites where more information - and sometimes songs - exist.
There's obviously a wide variety in styles, talent and audio quality, but generally they sound professional and slant somewhat towards progressive mainstream and fusion. Sorting them all goes beyond what can be covered here, but these are a few of the shorthand notes jotted down while the MP3 player spent a weekend plugging through the files:
Downloading this many files will take a few hours, even with a high-speed connection, in part because of the time necessary to select each artist's page and download their songs individually. But it's worthwhile, as the size, diversity and quality is well above most commercial sites. Many performers will likely be unfamiliar, so the best approach may be storing them on a hard drive or a couple of MP3 CDs (the jazz collection exceeds 1GB) and doing a random playthrough. It's like getting a marathon session of commercial-free jazz radio, with the ability to investigate further when something of interest is heard - which is almost guaranteed for any type of listener.
Search for MP3s at mp3.washingtonpost.com .
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