Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cherokee - performed by Makovicz, Woods, Juris, etc.

Charlie Parker's classic tune "Cherokee" is one of the benchmark tunes for jazz musicians - if you call yourself a jazz musician, you should be able to play this tune, at the typical tempo (pretty darn fast). This is the first time I heard of Polish jazz pianist Dave Makovicz, but he's obviously capable of hanging with this all-star band.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Directions Cello Festival 2009 - Friday Afternoon

New Directions Cello Festival is an annual festival for cellists who want to learn from fairly well-known non-classical cellists and each other. I have nothing against classical music, but opportunities for cellists who study jazz, Celtic music, etc. from cellists who are established in those respective genres are quite limited. The positive experiences I had at the 2006 festival made me want to attend subsequent ones, but I had to wait until 2009 for my next chance. The format of the 2009 festival was very much like the 2006 one - one has a selection between 2-3 classes during the daytime, with lunch breaks, and concerts on Friday and Saturday nights to be followed by informal jam sessions.

Here are the classes I chose for Friday Afternoon:

Free Improvisation
Instructor: Joel Cohen

I unfortunately botched up my recording of this class. My Tascam DP-004 apparently has to "backup" the song from the DP-004's MTR partition on the SD card to the FAT partition. It took forever to backup the recording of this class. I think it's because I totally maxed out the card quickly by recording two tracks at once. Silly oversight on my part to not get a 16GB SD card - I used the pathetically tiny 1GB card that came with it. What I recall of this class was being given simple parameters with which to improvise - usually a tonal center like C or G, a rhythm, and a parameter specific to one's group (class was divided into groups at some point). So the improvisation wasn't 100% "free" as Derek Bailey would call it, but there was still a lot to room to try ideas.

Shetland Tune
Instructor: Abby Newton

The class was pretty much devoted to one tune from the Shetland region of Scotland. I was painfully reminded of how slow I am in picking up a new song completely by ear. I had the same problem when I took a class taught by Natalie Haas, another cellist specializing in Scottish music. Still, it was interesting to get a taste of Shetland bowing, which seems to be playing more notes with a down-bow and using the up-bow to accent a particular note. Because my DP-004's SD card was full, I couldn't record a second of this class.

Flying Pizzicato I
Instructor: Stephen Katz

This class introduced Katz's Flying Pizzicato technique for cello. A demo of this technique is here:

Katz is a virtuoso with this technique, which lends itself well to music with a strong rhythmic drive.

Cello Big Band
Director: Joel Cohen

This wasn't really a class, although I personally learned a lot by partipating. Part of NDCF tradition, apparently, is that cellists take time to prepare several pieces for the final concert on Sunday afternoon. Usually some cellists out of the group volunteer to improvise solos where the pieces call for it. I tried to participate back in NDCF 2006, but my sight reading was even worse then than it was as of June 2009. This is where my lack of true classical cello training might be a liability. Anyway, I gained quite a bit of confidence by being a part of Cello Big Band this time around.

I'll continue my NDCF 2009 reporting in a later post.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lee Konitz on Jazz Improvisation

Check out this jazz great's short but sweet interview, in which he offers some insight and opinions on the study and practice of jazz tones.

Moog Voyager Operating System 3.4 and the Touch Surface

I'm embarrassed to admit I just found out that Moog Music released Version 3.4 of the Minimoog Voyager Operating System quite a while back. The Moog Music site highlights these features of Version 3.4:

- Individual Local ON/OFF assignments for the Keyboard, Pitch and Mod Wheels, Aftertouch, Touch Surface, Pots and Switches.

- Elimination of parameter stepping when multiple pots are adjusted at the same time

- LFO Sample & Hold capability for the Touch Surface, plus four selectable Amounts
(OFF, 25%, 50%, 100%) for the X, Y and A axis.

- Global Reset of selected parameters (Category, Pitch Bend, and Pedal Amount)

The Minimoog Voyager is a direct descendant of the Minimoog synths made famous by the Beatles, rap artists, Keith Emerson, Jan Hammer, Chick Corea etc. - typically for searing leads and bass lines. I actually don't use it that way at all with our band Phonic Riot - for us it's more of a noise machine. I use the Touch Surface a lot for at least Phonic Riot's "Woodsong" . I searched for other Voyager owners' experiences on the V3.4 software update and came across mention a zipper-noise issue with the Touch Surface. So this post is mainly for future reference, in case I encounter the zipper-noise issues with the heavily Touch Surface-dependent patch I use for "Woodsong" after installing the update.

Moog Music Forum Thread on the Voyager OS 3.4 update.

Two reports from users on the forums (excerpt):

Right now these sounds (at least here on my Voyager) default on using the new Touch Surface LFO S&H function on all sounds. So all sounds get now a somewhat zipper noise like sound effect when playing the Touch Surface. I had to reprogram my sounds to set the new Touch Surface LFO S&H to "off" on all four Touch Surface destinations. This also include the factory sounds.

I just installed the new 3.4 OS upgrade and now all my patches have the zippering sound whenever I use the touch pad. I had many patches where the touch pad was used to swell the note as I went left to right, and now it zippers instead of responding smoothly. Have I missed something?