Blog Archives

Jazz, Buffalo New York, and the 1970s, in One Lovely Digitized Package

Buffalo Jazz ReportThe University at Buffalo announced earlier this week that it had digitzed the entire run of the Buffalo Jazz Report and made it available in the UB Institutional Repository.

The Buffalo Jazz Report was a freebie newspaper distributed between March 1974 and December 1978. You can browse the entire 58-issue run in all its 1970s glory at http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/BuffJazz.

You can browse issues or do a search. (You can also browse by author or subject, but there’s only one author and only five subjects.) The search is full-text but it’s pretty basic; a search for Monk found 37 results but the results simply pulled PDFs of full issues and did not direct me to excerpts or articles. Issues appear to be available only as PDFs; download them and read them in your favorite viewer.

The newspapers themselves include obituaries of musicians, occasionally articles on musicians, reviews of recordings, event listings, and relentlessly hip ads which could only be more 1970s if they were actually dipped in fondue. My favorite one was for a haircutter, “Crazy Ron,” who advertised with and without “Nanci.” And don’t forget Eskil’s Clog Shop (“When Your Feet Need a Friend.”)

Clog ShopThe newspaper evolves from a fairly brief affair with some drawings early on to a much larger newspaper with lots of articles, photographs, and concert reviews. I can’t find any indication that the last issue was the last issue; it seems to have just … ended.

Even if you don’t have a predilection for jazz you’ll enjoy the energy in the collection — editor and publisher Bill Wahl clearly loved what he was doing. (And he’s apparently still doing it! Check out Jazz-Blues.com for a database of over 8000 reviews of jazz recordings.) I recommending browsing, as the search doesn’t get you very far and there’s not enough detail in the subject trees to try to browse that way.

Get Your Jazz Quotes in a New Web Site

Jazz-Quotes

Matt Mullenweg is starting off 2012 right, with a new Web site devoted to jazz quotes. (This site is for quotes by jazz legends, not necessarily quotes about jazz.) The site is available, strangely enough, at http://jazz-quotes.com/.

I like the presentation on the front page, with several jazz legend photographs with a name/number next to each one. The number is the count of quotes available for that particular artist. There are also several names below the listings with no pictures, but with numbers.

I looked at quotes for Jaco Pastorius, Sun Ra, and Frank Zappa. Each artist’s page I saw had a list of their quotes, a picture, and a form for submitting more quotes. The Zappa page had just one quote (“Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny”) but other pages had dozens (Miles Davis’ page has 26 quotes.)

This isn’t an exaustive collection by any means, but the selection and the presentation are both great.

Georgia State University Launches Johnny Mercer Digital Collection

Georgia State University announced last week the launch of the Johnny Mercer digital collection, about 1300 images from the Johnny Mercer Papers and Johnny and Ginger Mercer Papers.

(Johnny Mercer was a singer/songwriter who was active from the 1930s up until the 1970s. He wrote some songs which might sound familiar to you, including Jeepers Creepers, You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby, and One for My Baby (and One More for the Road))

I couldn’t find a direct link, but I did do a search for Mercer and ended up here, with 1243 results. This is a search result; use the query box in the upper right to do more detailed query like Mercer guitar or Mercer television. You could also try names of contemporaries — I found several pictures of Johnny Mercer with Bing Crosby and one with Nat “King” Cole.

Search results have a thumbnail and a little context; click on the thumbnail for a much larger picture and some more information about it.

Kickstarting a Collection of Public Domain Classical Music

I read at EFF recently a story about Musopen. Musopen had a project up at Kickstarter where it was trying to raise $11,000 for the purpose of recording classical music and making it public domain. The project ended yesterday and well exceeded its fundraising goal.

Reading about the project made me intrigued about the site, so I visited http://www.musopen.com/ to learn more about the site. And I discovered that while the Kickstarter project is very worthly and I’m glad they’re doing it, the site already has a lot of classical music available for download, free with registration.

The front page gives you the option to browse music or sheet music (or “Shuffle,” which pulls random music for you.) Exploring music lists available content by composer, performer, instrument, period, or form.

Now, my two favorite classical composers (I think they’re classical, they’re certainly not contemporary) are John Field and Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Needless to say neither one of those was available. But there were many better known composers listed, including Bach, Beethoven, Handel, etc.

I chose Marcel Dupre. His detail page had a link to one available musical item — Three Antiphones from Fifteen Pieces, Op. 18. Clicking on that led me to a page where I could download one of the three pieces. There was space for a rating but this particular item didn’t have one. Information on it also included the performer, with links to bookmark or embed the item. If you don’t care to browse through the music you could also listen to Musopen Radio, which streams classical music as long as you care to listen.

In addition to the archive of music, Musopen is also in the project of developing a public domain music theory textbook. You can also see how other community projects have integrated Musopen into their work.

If you like classical music, this site is a must-see. My favorites weren’t there, but there was still material worth downloading.

Jazz in an Archive, Jazz on Your Screen

I had never heard of Smalls Jazz Club until I read this item on JazzCorner.com. Now it’s my favorite jazz place in New York City. I’ve been to a few concerts and had a great time.

No, I don’t live in New York City. I don’t have to; Smalls Jazz Club has a live video stream on its Web site every night. Yup, every night you can go to http://www.smallsjazzclub.com/ and listen in on great sounding live jazz from three or four artists from 7:30pm to 3:30am EST. The picture is quite good; as you’ll see in the screenshot there’s also some live picture-taking going on.

This isn’t why I’m writing up Smalls in ResearchBuzz, though. I’m writing it up because not only does it have live Jazz, it keeps an audio archive of past performances on its Web site. Hundreds and hundreds are available here. The interface is interesting; pick an instrument, and you’ll get a list of the artists performing on that instrument. Pick an artist and you’ll get a biography and a list of performance dates. Choose a date and in a few seconds you’re listening to the performance. (There are even ten performances here featuring the accordion, an instrument I have not hitherto associated with Jazz.)

Did I mention all this is free? The site accepts donations, but all of it is free.

I like music, I enjoy jazz, I’m stunned that Smalls keeps a live video feed available and and such a huge selection of archives available at no cost. Rock on, Smalls. Wait, I guess it would be jazz on, wouldn’t it…

Bing Gets More Entertaining

Search engine Bing has been putting up several blog posts this week highlighting new elements of its search engine. I have mentioned a couple of these in Morning Buzz, but I think the recent update about new entertainment content deserves its own post.

If you want to browse through entertainment content, you can go straight to http://www.bing.com/entertainment, but you can also get content as well.

First up is music. You can now get a lot of music information from a simple search. The one I’m most excited about, though, is lyrics. There are about a jillion places online to find lyrics, but many of them are loaded with ads and its’ not easy to tell sometimes which ones are safe and which aren’t. Now with Bing you can do a search for artist songname and you’ll get a result that shows a song with a lyrics link. Click on the link and you’ll get the lyrics to the song with writer credits without leaving Bing. This even works when you’re doing a search for lyrics, though you may have to do some URL hacking to get there. Check out this search: http://www.bing.com/music/lyrics/search?q=sipping+a+cup+of+pity.

A couple of notes on lyric search: it doesn’t seem to be censored, and I didn’t see an easy way to set the filter. Some of the most innocuous searches will get you some pretty wild results — I don’t think I’d let kids use this search without supervision. Also, many lyrics are presented colloquially; if you’re trying to find Dierks Bentley’s What Was I Thinkin’ you’ll have to search for hood slidin’ like Bo Duke because hood sliding like Bo Duke won’t get you any results. Experiment.

You’ll notice this result also gives you a “play” icon for this particular song (Soul Sloshing, by Venus Hum.) When I clicked it though, I got a “coming soon” popup, as I did for Gov’t Mule, Modest Mouse, Jane Siberry, and other searches I tried. I didn’t explore this further.

If you get tired of looking at music you can play a game or two. Bing has information on about 35,000 games, which it notes includes reviews, cheats, and walkthroughs. I had mixed results with this feature. I got results for Final Fantasy and Super Mario Brothers but not for Civ IV or Civilization IV. I didn’t get results for Mario Kart but I did get results for Mario Kart 64. This is another arena where you’ll have to experiment.

Bing has also embedded about 100 casual games that you can play from the search engine itself including, unfortunately, Bookworm. (Just search for Bookworm and you’ll get a link to the game and an invitation to play. You don’t have to be logged in unless you want your high score recorded.) Drat you, Bing…

If playing games is too much work Bing now offers episodes from over 1500 television shows. You can browse everything that’s available at http://www.bing.com/videos/browse/tv/all?q=browse:tv/all#, which I recommend because it took me a while to find a show doing random Bing searches. I saw soap operas, dramas, lots of reality television, and anime. You can filter by recent or popular items, or narrow down your search to clips or full episodes. There are also a couple of different duration options.

Bing has gathered a good strong set of content here, and also has wisely emphasized the issue of safety. However I wish that aspect of it had been explored a little further with quick filters being available for lyric searches. Definitely worth an explore, though I’m going to try to avoid Bookworm. If you never see another post on ResearchBuzz again you’ll know why…

Aviary Gets a Music Creator

Online toolbox Aviary announced last week its new online music creator, Roc. Roc is free, in alpha, and available at http://aviary.com/blog/posts/online-music-creator.

When you first launch Roc, it’ll offer you the option to start off with an instrument (WHAT? NO COWBELL? — no, wait, I think they hid it in the drum kits) or to open a sample project. The sample project is the RocDemo which will give you a screen full of instruments.

This project is set in common time at 120 bpm. Each instrument has its own line, with a row of four dots per measure. If you want an instrument to play at one of the beats in the measure, click on the dot. There’s a bunch of instruments on the right side of the screen. You can add instruments individually or by the folder. I added a folder of drums and within a few minutes had several measures of percussion-y goodness playing in a loop, though sometimes the playing would skip — I think something wasn’t completely loaded. Individual controls on each instrument allow you to control panning and volume. If you have an Aviary account (free) you can save your creations, tag them, and set usage rights.

Just messing with this a little bit I found several things missing. I couldn’t find a way to change the BPM or time signature, for example. I couldn’t find a way to play tracks individually — it’s easy to play samples, but I couldn’t isolate an instrument on a track and just play it in a loop as a I added or subtracted beats. And I couldn’t find a way to record my own voice or cigar box guitar solo on top of the provided tracks.

Then I noticed that there was an “Unlock More Features” link at the top of the page, which I figured was a pitch (you’ll pardon the pun) for a pay version. It’s not; instead, it’ll unlock many of the features I missed if you’ll provide five e-mail addresses for beta invitations. Now, when I put up this post, it’ll go to over 15,000 people between the RSS feed and the e-mail and the Facebook “Like” page. But the thing is everyone receiving these posts has asked to receive them. I would be uncomfortable providing Aviary with five e-mail addresses unless I knew five people who are really looking for an online music creator – and, sadly, I don’t.

Roc will absolutely not take the place of more advanced desktop software any more than Phoenix can, for me, take the place of GIMP. But like Phoenix, sometimes you need accessibility and ease of use far more than you need every last little feature in your desktop software. Despite the fact that there are some fundamental things you can’t change about Roc (at least not without giving out some e-mail addresses) it’s easy to noodle around and crank out little musical loops. Play with it and see what you think.

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