Internet Radio Is Still In Trouble

From 2003 to 2010, I maintained an internet radio station on Live365. I did it for one reason: passion. I love the music I listen to and always want to share.

Sometime in the middle of that period, organizations with big money started to see internet radio as a threat. Royalty rates were hiked beyond any other broadcast medium. The RIAA and lobbyists wanted Internet radio to suffer.

I’ve been out of the game for a couple of years but apparently this predatory behavior has persisted. There must be some new major hike on the horizon because Pandora is speaking out. Today, Pandora’s founder posted an enlightening blog post about how much the company contributes to the music industry. That includes dollar figures ($65,173 for the Four Tops; about $3 million each for Drake and Lil Wayne are some numbers).

I wrote about why I did my radio station in 2007. Those words remain true today, maybe even more so. Where else can you hear contemporary jazz today? Where can you discover new sounds? On FM? Not likely. It’s internet radio.

Take a minute to think about the importance of music and how you listen. Read this and support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

GRP at 30 – New Compilation

Happy Anniversary to the label that introduced me to so many great artists. It was On the Cutting Edge GRP Sampler way back in 1989 or so that helped get me hooked on contemporary jazz. Nice to see Verve recognize the greatest contemporary jazz label ever with a new compilation.

My First Guitar

George Benson is one of the 70 top-notch guitarists interviewed for My First Guitar, a new book by Julia Crowe. The musicians share memories of the first time they picked up the instrument, including the challenges and successes. I can just image the smiles on some of those guys faces when they were reminiscing.

Drum & Bass + Jazz from Flowrian

Sounds I’d expect from LTJ Bukem’s great label!

Things I Know About Built to Last from the Rippingtons

Though it’s been a while since I considered myself a fan of the Rippingtons, I have always remained interested in the Russ Freeman project. Tourist in Paradise was my first love of contemporary jazz and you never forget your first love.

Built to Last is the new recording by the Rippingtons. Here’s what I’ve gathered about it:

  • It will be released on August 28.
  • It took 15 months to write and record.
  • The first single is “Cougars and Gigolos.”
  • The are 16 tracks on the recording, including four orchestral renditions and a classical guitar reprise of the title track.
  • Former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde is featured on the track “Monument/Monolith.”
  • iTunes offers a “deluxe edition” with a bonus track and digital booklet.
  • Bill Mayer contributes yet another outstanding jazz cat illustration for the cover.
  • The range of music goes from “orchestrated, widescreen epics, to lyrical, smooth ballads, and high energy, progressive jazz-rock.”

Sources: Rippingtons official site, Amazon

Interview with Branford Marsalis

Black Music Disaster

I don’t know anything else about this June 5th Thirsty Ear release but I am anxious to hear it!

The press release:

Hailing from both the UK and US, Black Music Disaster is a super indie group featuring Spiritualized’s legendary J Spaceman, Spring Heel Jack’s multi-instrumental innovator John Coxon, acclaimed jazz icon Matthew Shipp and drummer extraordinaire Steve Noble.

The pace is set with the pulsating Farfisa organ, complimented by dueling psychedelic guitars and punctuated with explosive drums.

At times hypnotic, yet rapidly moving with wide dynamic sweeps, this highly unique sonic experience is unmatched in its ultimate musical journey.

Given these great musicians span such diverse musical backgrounds; the brilliance of this composition is how the genre differences just melt away.

As to the name, Matthew Shipp provides the keys to its origin: “William Parker had mentioned to me about a negative review of a concert he had performed with Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton in Italy in which the reviewer referred to the concert as a ‘‘black arts disaster.”

“Everyone thought that was funny and by the time the story got around through Chinese whispers it had changed to black music disaster–at which time we all looked at each other and said that is a great name for a CD.”

Hiroshima – Departure

Review of the contemporary jazz recording Departure by Hiroshima by

I stopped writing reviews a few years ago. One of the major reasons is that I just didn’t have any new things to say. Fortunately, Hiroshima doesn’t have that problem. The group, led by Dan Kuramoto, continues to make their own East Meets West contemporary jazz. Departure, their 18th recording, is defined by its title. They are releasing this on their own. No record label marketing push or anything like that. They’re an indie band.

“Why Departure? Where do I begin? After more than 30 years in the recording industry — and almost four million records sold – we’ve decided to leave record companies behind and venture on our own,” Kuramoto explains. “It’s kinda scary, but given the changes in the music industry and what it’s now going to take for us to survive, we are moving toward direct contact with the community.”

A big part of reaching out to the community is putting content on one of the top three web sites in the world – Facebook. Hiroshima contributes frequently to their Facebook hub. One of the best things there is links to video commentaries by the band for every track on Departure.

What about the music? Kuramoto breaks it down: “It is a new beginning for us in many ways. The songs are all originals with just one guest artist, the incredible harmonica player Tetsuya “Tex” Nakamura, featured on the luscious opening track, “Have You Ever Wondered,” composed by June and Kimo. “Koto Cruise” is the second song and features a funky groove and a burning koto solo. “Blues for Sendai” is just that. There’s a tribute to our friend and mentor James Moody, who passed last December. It’s called “See You Again,” and there is a lot of ‘quoting’ from his “Moody’s Mood for Love.” After many years of requests, we have recorded our first full-on taiko solo ever, “Yamasong”–a live recording that really captures Shoji and Danny’s fierce interplay. “First Nation,” a composition by the Hawaiian Kimo Cornwell, is a powerhouse of a song embracing many cultures, as does our reincarnation of “Thousand Cranes.” The CD ends with a soulful version of “One Wish,” done as an acoustic trio.”

Consistent quality, a distinct sound, and longevity = win. If I were creating a Contemporary Jazz Hall of Fame, Hiroshima would certainly be an early inductee.

Incognito – Surreal

It looks like the unstoppable Incognito has a new collection of vocal soul/jazz gems out here in the States on March 26. Surreal features vocalists Natalie Williams, Mo Brandis, Vanessa Haynes, and Maysa plus one pure Incognito instrumental.

You can take sample all of the new tracks at Amazon right now.

Best of Jazzmatazz from Guru

Among the $5.00 MP3 albums Amazon is offering this month is the The Best of Guru’s Jazzmatazz. The late rapper collaborates with some top-notch talent for this hip hop meets jazz compilation. Jamiroquai, Ronny Jordan, Donald Byrd, and Lonnie Liston Smith are just a few of the artists you’ll hear.