Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009

For many years, Your Own Personal Genius earned his drinking money by working retail. I've sold computers, appliances, furniture, mattresses, and kitchen cabinets; and in the process, became somewhat of a Grinch when it came to the material aspects of the holidays. Spending 14 hours a day in a store dealing with surly shoppers, an endless loop of the same maddening Christmas songs, and the insincere and overdone holiday decorations is enough to beat the holiday spirit out of all the Whos in Whoville.

Even Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two.

Fortunately, my experiences on the business end of the holiday gift-giving tradition weren't enough to completely sour me on the true meaning of the season; an orgy of indiscriminate spending to grease the gears of the economy and keep folks like me in beer till the better warm-weather selling months return.

Even though I no longer spend my days on the retail sales floor, I've still got a reflexive dislike of spending any more time in a store than is absolutely necessary. I even find myself planning the most efficient route through Target to get everything I need without going down even one unnecessary aisle or taking the risk of being ensnared by their vast selection of stylish yet affordable housewares.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Musician News - December 2009: New Photo Gallery, Profile Improvements and More

Dear fellow musician:

We made plenty of musician-related improvements since our September newsletter. We upgraded your musician profile and we added more features to promote yourself and your music. And we're also running a $100 off sale on our Showcase and Listening Party services. Please read on...


  1. Share your photos at All About Jazz!
  2. Musician Profile improvements
  3. Your promotional service checklist: Free & Pay
  4. Your Suggestions / Your Kudos
  5. Showcase and Album Streaming Sale!
  6. Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum
  7. Let's Tribute Ourselves by Vincent Gardner

Share your photos at All About Jazz!

We launched the new AAJ Photo Gallery back in October and we now host over 28,000 photos! Both musicians and professional photographers are uploading and tagging photos daily and we've made several functional improvements to the gallery since its launch.

The gallery works a little like Flickr and MySpace, but is fully integrated with your musician profile at AAJ. So please upload your photos today. Publicity, performance and candid photos are all welcome.

Musician Profile improvements

If you haven't checked out your profile recently, please review the recent changes and make sure your information is current. Many musicians are building their fan base at AAJ and can communicate with them direct from their profiles. View the CONNECT tab on your profile page to view and contact your fans. Click here to learn more about building your fan base.

Make sure you add your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog and other links to your profile. We'll then append those links to the bottom of your articles and news announcements. Check out this example.

We're now hosting over 18,000 jazz musician profiles and new ones are created daily. Read about our latest achievement here.

Your promotional service checklist: Free & Pay

We've recently updated the "AAJ Musician's Toolkit" page and we also created a new page detailing services you should be aware of beyond AAJ like ArtistData. Read "More Resources for Jazz Musicians."

If you recently released a CD then consider featuring a track as an AAJ MP3 Download of the Day. Our service is free and we recently featured a track by {{Sylvia Brooks = 16999}} that topped 3,300 downloads in a single day, so it has tremendous potential to raise awareness and drive traffic.

Your Suggestions / Your Kudos

We continue to gather your positive feedback about AAJ and make it public to our readers. You can view the 48 pages of kudos on our "Musicians Dig AAJ" page. We never get tired of the praise (thanks everyone!), but we're also very interested in your suggestions on how to improve AAJ to better serve you. We're collecting them here (FYI, you can input your suggestions from your profile page).

We added the Twitter link, the photo gallery and we're working on an affordable streaming audio solution. The plan is to allow you to upload and stream music right from your AAJ profile page. We'll have more news about that soon!

Showcase and Album Streaming Sale!

Place a Showcase or Listening Party order between now and the end of the year and save $100 off each purchase. The sale price on our Showcase service is $250 for one month and the sale price on the Listening Party is $250 for one week.

Learn more about our Showcase service here and our Listening Party/Album Streaming service here.

Mr. P.C.'s Guide to Jazz Etiquette and Bandstand Decorum

Read the December installment from AAJ's resident advice columnist, Mr. P.C.. Inspired by the cutting edge advice of Abigail Van Buren, the storied bass playing of Paul Chambers, and the need for a Politically Correct doctrine for navigating the minefields of jazz etiquette, he humbly offers his services to his fellow musicians. Read Mr. P.C.'s column then ask him a question.

Let's Tribute Ourselves

Trombonist Vincent Gardner would like the opportunity to play original music at a jazz festival. Who can blame him? Read his opinion piece, Let's Tribute Ourselves.

That's it for now. Have a safe and joyous holiday season.

All the best,
Michael Ricci

Share this announcement with a musician friend.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Paul Wertico: All In A Day's Work

Seven-time Grammy winner Paul Wertico, a name long-synonymous with innovation and Herculean energy/talent in the world of drums, has stepped out of the box once again to present an album that defies genre boundaries. In addition to the usual suspects of his trio including guitarist John Moulder and bassist Brian Peters, Wertico has combined forces with Israeli guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Marcovitch to form the Mid East/Mid West Alliance. The product of this marriage of talent recently came together at Studiomedia Recording Studio in Evanston, IL, where, after two short evenings of transcendental artistry, Impressions of a City (Chicago Sessions, 2009) was born.

With the help of Nick Eipers, master engineer and owner of Chicago Sessions, this recording rises above even Wertico's high artistic standards. This team has created a dreamscape that combines experience with differing definitions of mood, daily life and emotional maturation. Their strengths and talents allure from track-to-track. This collective and wholly improvisatory vision manifests itself as a soundtrack for the weary ear, offering a different perspective of what music is and what it can be. There are large servings of ear candy for the soul. A beast lurks deep beneath the musicians thoughts whereas, in other moments, there are tinges of beauty that speak as a siren would, calling out to the vulnerable lives within their sounding range. Tearing through this Babylon of sound, Wertico's impeccable ability to marry artistic dreams with talent are alarmingly in tune and have provided, yet again, a new standard bearer for music and the shape of it to come.

All About Jazz: This recording is quite unique...not like a jazz album at all. Can you tell us the story behind the formation of the Mid East/Mid West Alliance?

Paul Wertico: The story behind this is as intriguing as the record is. I've had my trio since the '90s. It's basically been John Moulder, who is one of my best friends and an incredible guitarist. I've played with him since the early '90s when I played on his first CD, Awakening. Then there's Brian Peters, who I met a few years ago when I recorded my CD, StereoNucleosis. He's this young genius. He plays, or at least it seems like it, just about every instrument imaginable, and also does fantastic engineering, mixing and a lot more. The three of us have been playing together for about five years.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Add AAJ's "Jazz Photo of the Day" Widget for Your Website or Blog

All About Jazz widgets can help you build your website's traffic and keep your readers coming back for more.

Place any or all of these free widgets on your website or blog:

New Widget!

  Photo of the DayGet Code

Other Jazz Widgets

  Articles Get Code
  Birthdays Get Code
  CD Reviews Get Code
  Contest Giveaways Get Code
  Interviews Get Code
  Jazz Video Guy PresentsGet Code
  Listening Party / Album StreamGet Code
  MP3 Download of the Day Get Code
  Musician of the Day Get Code
  News Get Code
  Jazz Session Podcasts Get Code
  Quote of the Day Get Code
  This Day in Jazz History Get Code
  Upcoming Releases Get Code

What are AAJ Widgets?
AAJ Widgets are dynamically updated content boxes that are pushed from to a user's website or blog. If you know how to copy & paste, you can use our daily jazz content on your site in a matter of minutes. Check out how they appear at the Jazz Excursion website, the Montreal Jazz Festival website or the AAJ News Blog. See them all in action on a single page.

How do I place AAJ Widgets on my website?
For the MP3 Download of the Day box, click here.

Adding an article, birthday, cd review and release schedule content box to your website is simple, but it does require some knowledge of HTML. To get started, click one of the live content links above, then follow the instructions.

Once the code is copied to your web page, upload the page, and you're done. AAJ will then automatically update your content once every 15 minutes, once an hour, or once a day. this sample page.

What are the benefits of using AAJ Widgets?
If you want to build "stickyness", then you need to frequently update your website. AAJ can help by providing new content in the form of daily downloads, daily news, articles, cd reviews and upcoming releases. AAJ Widgets gives your readers a reason to come back.

Who should use AAJ Widgets?
If you're looking to retain visitors, the answer is you. Musicians, bloggers, radio stations, venues, festivals, general purpose sites, fan sites, record stores, publicists... everyone can benefit.

Kurt Rosenwinkel: Reflections from Berlin

Broadly acknowledged as one of jazz's foremost artists, Kurt Rosenwinkel has established a reputation as an innovator and constant seeker on the guitar. He has carved out a unique sound over many years of experiment and refinement and today commands respect for his singular voice as a player and bandleader.

Kurt Rosenwinkel

As a follow-up to the successful double live album The Remedy (ArtistShare, 2008), Rosenwinkel recently released Reflections (Wommusic, 2009), an elegant collection of standards. Rosenwinkel spoke about this latest endeavor from Berlin, the city he now calls home.

Growing Up Philadelphia

All About Jazz: Let's start with some background. You grew up in Philadelphia. How did you first get into music?

Kurt Rosenwinkel: I played my tennis racket along to Peter Frampton. Then went to the piano and made up songs.

AAJ: Were you attracted to jazz from the beginning? How did it develop?

KR: I became interested in jazz in high school, through the talented other students who were into it, and through my friend David Brodie, who is still a jazz bassist in Philadelphia. We listened to a lot of music and his father was friends with a lot of jazz musicians and would host jam sessions at his house.

Before I was in the picture, apparently, Philly Joe Jones used to come over and hang out there too. Then I started going to jam sessions on Mondays at a neighborhood club called the Blue Note, where Tony Williams (the alto saxophonist), Eddie Greene, Sid Simmons, Tyrone Browne, Al Jackson, Mike Boone, and others used to host the session. It was a big club and would be always filled with people all having a good time. I was embraced and encouraged, and loved the feeling there.

AAJ: How did you settle on the guitar as your instrument?

KR: I started piano when I was nine; guitar when I was 12. I always play[ed] both after that point, but was more into guitar. Before I left high school and went to Berklee College of Music to follow my friends, I decided I should take a year of jazz piano lessons and decide which I would focus on at Berklee. I studied with the great Jimmy Amadie for a year, who gave me a strong foundation in jazz harmony, which I thank him for to this day. But I ultimately felt that I was a better guitarist so I should keep going with that.


Partisans: Blowing a Storm in Cyberspace

Partisans has been gigging in cyberspace--playing a virtual nightclub in Second Life. Over 13 years and four acclaimed albums, Partisans has developed a strong reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative bands on the British jazz scene. One of the band's strengths is its willingness to keep up to date with technology and experiment with it whenever this might help to expand their work. As a result, the night before saxophonist Julian Siegel and guitarist Phil Robson took part in this telephone interview, they had been involved in an unusual performance.

Partisans, from left: Thad Kelly, Phil Robson, Gene Calderazzo, Julian Siegel

The night of Friday November 6, 2009 saw Partisans' debut gig in Second Life, the online virtual world, when their concert at London's Crypt in Camberwell was video-streamed into the Crypt's virtual venue. While the live audience enjoyed the band's set in the small club, in Second Life avatars with exotic names and appearances watched and "danced" as the gig was presented on four large screens. The experience was an obvious subject with which to begin the interview: did playing to a virtual audience as well as real people need any special preparation for the band?

"We were asked to do the gig" explains Siegel, "then we were told about this element of it. What was different about it? Well, the club put a screen up so that the audience could see the various avatars dancing to what we were playing, although with a time lag of five or ten seconds, but we couldn't see the screen. So for us it was pretty much a normal gig although in the back of our minds was the thought that this was going out to a potentially world wide audience, which is a pretty unique thing."


Charnett Moffett: Improvisational Artistry

"I enjoy all of the music, just as I enjoy different aspects of color in paintings, or different people, or different types of food, or things of that nature. For me, it seems to be a more interesting way of life to have an appreciation for all that is offered on the planet."

Charnett Moffett

With that simple statement, bassist Charnett Moffett says a lot about his career in music that began as young a child, and was pretty much inevitable from the moment he appeared on the planet in 1967, as the son of drummer Charles Moffett. He started playing drums at age two, and then investigated the trumpet before he eventually found his hands around an upright bass, performing with the Moffett Family Band, led by his dad, that included brother Codaryl (Cody) also on drums, brother Mondre on trumpet and brother Charles, Jr. on sax. Bass chores were handled by Patrick McCarthy and young Charnett on a half-sized bas

He toured Japan at the age of seven with the family band and roughly a decade later was in the employ of Wynton Marsalis. He's since spent years playing all kinds of improvised music, moving from the mainstream lodgings of Marsalis to under the aegis of the free-spirited Ornette Coleman. He's recorded over the years with the likes of McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Stanley Jordan, Pharoah Sanders, Wallace Roney and Joshua Redman. Though improvisational is at the base of his musical explorations, his music influences and tastes are broad. That can be seen in his albums, from his 1987 debut on Blue Note records, Beauty Within, right up to his current recording, The Art of Improvisation (Motema, 2009), his tenth as a leader.


Terry Currier: A Coalition for Music Freedom

There is something almost sensual about the independent record store experience. Perhaps it's the element of discovery with each new find, or the common bond and passion shared with each other. Maybe it's the inspiration of hearing music that seems to arouse all the senses. Or perhaps it's the understanding that there is something more warm and soulful about music played from a treasured record than from a disposable downloaded file. Whatever it is, there is something magical that happens inside these music shrines.

It wasn't long ago that horror stories were being written and the corporates were running scared. Napster was on the horizon and Amazon was ready to kill. File sharing would shred the remains while nostalgia buried the dead. But they are still here and their fires burn deep. They are the independent record store owners, the gatekeepers of the music, the foundation of a community and culture. And they still believe that music can save the world.

Terry Currier is the independent record store owner of Portland's Music Millennium but he also initiated The Coalition of Independent Record Stores in 1995. I had the opportunity to talk with Terry about the coalition and discuss the music industry history along with the struggles and challenges facing the industry as we step further into the 21st century.

All About Jazz: If I remember correctly, you started the Coalition of Independent Music Stores.

Terry Currier: Yes, it was started in May of 1995 but it really all came together in 1992.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reskinning of AAJ Underway!

It's time for a makeover, and since late November we've been steadily converting All About Jazz to a cleaner and easier to navigate website. For the most part, we're simply moving objects and boxes around and placing them in more convenient locations. For instance, our streaming media content has been moved from the right panel of some pages to the bottom panel of all pages.

We refined each section from the top, to the middle (and right and left panels), and the bottom.

The color scheme is lighter (the background color on the home page was changed from black to white, and the content boxes were changed from dark green to light blue).

We added more items to the menu bar, making the FORUMS, NEWS and RADIO options easier to find. We also added the daily jazz photo to the right panel of each page.

What's left?

We still have to implement the new menu bar, the new Featured Stories box and the new-style content boxes. Once they are all in place we'll work on making each content box on the home page a scrollable region. This will allow readers to access more content direct from the home page.

The feedback so far has been "much cleaner," "easier to navigate," and "doesn't feel as heavy." Sounds like we're on the right track, but we still have a wee bit more to do.

We hope to have AAJ's new design fully in place by mid-December.

Michael Ricci
All About Jazz

18,000 Musician Profiles at All About Jazz

AAJ now hosts more than 18,000 musician profiles at our Musician Center.

Like MySpace, jazz musicians can create a free profile at All About Jazz, submit calendar information, share photos, present MP3s, embed videos, post news, make their teaching information available to students, add their MySpace, Facebook and Twitter links, and much more. AAJ musician profiles rank high on a Google search and drive traffic. We also feature a daily musician and syndicate jazz birthdays around the web.

If you have a profile, make sure it's current. If you're a jazz musician and you don't have a profile, create one today

Related Links

Ian Shaw: From Free Jazz to Noel Coward

Ian ShawIan Shaw is a jazz singer. This simple description is accurate--it's how Shaw refers to himself--but it falls well short of doing the man justice. Ian Shaw is one of the most distinctive, original and creative jazz singers on the scene: he is a talented pianist and songwriter with a knack for working with top-quality musicians, an ability to seek out and cover some of the finest songs in contemporary music, and a showmanship that ensures that his live performances can raise tears of laughter as well as tears of sadness.

Since the early 1990s, Shaw has released 11 albums as leader or co-leader--a diverse collection of recordings featuring songs from the Great American Songbook and from major writers such as Joni Mitchell and Nick Cave. No two albums share the same musicians or the same instrumentation: each one is a departure from its predecessor, yet Shaw's voice, the one ever-present element, makes them all distinctly recognizable as his own. Shaw's development as a musician is equally distinct and perhaps gives some clue to the way in which he works, mixing free jazz influences with comedy and piano bars.

Shaw grew up in Wales, and both his parents had a musical background. He began to learn the piano in a fairly standard fashion: "I did the Trinity College, London, piano course until I was 16. I did my 8 grades [examinations]." Some biographical sources state that Shaw studied at Trinity College, Dublin, but he's keen to emphasize the inaccuracy of this information: "I've never, ever, set foot in Trinity College, Dublin. ...Somebody made up this amazing biography of me, only half of which was true. The rest of it was so spectacularly detailed, but untrue. My father and my mother were both extremely musical. My father played trumpet and cornet and I started with piano and brass band. I was a precocious classical pianist brat. Then I came to London and did a music degree at King's College, which I passed, but not with flying colors. I did no work for three years, just went to jazz clubs, bought Miles Davis records and got pissed." Shaw laughs at the memory. "That was my formal training: I did composition and analysis. ... I got what I needed from it. After that I started gigging almost immediately, playing pubs and wine bars--playing piano but not singing. One of my first collaborators was a guy called John Miller, a good, swinging piano player who used to play with Van Morrison and was really into Frank Zappa and [the late English singer-songwriter] Nick Drake."

Early in his career, Shaw moved into an unexpected area for a budding jazz singer: "I did stand-up comedy with music for about four years. In fact, I did a comedy tour this year with [British comedians] Arthur Smith and Sandi Toksvig." The move into comedy may seem unusual, but Shaw's live shows are genuinely funny events, and it's easy to imagine him in a comedy club setting. Shaw's next move again put music center-stage, as he explains: "I met this guy called Jack Fallon. He was a Canadian bass player [who had settled in England after the Second World War] who played with the likes of Jack Teagarden and Lena Horne. In the '50s, he set up an agency which was still going into the '80s. I auditioned for him, and he sent me out to play piano bars around the world for three years. I'd play four sets a night. I bought all the Real Books and learnt all the standards. I learnt on my feet--well, on my piano stool."


Tim Garland: Beyond the Frontier

Composer, arranger and multi-reed virtuoso Tim Garland is a treasure the nation of the UK has yet to fully recognize. Having recorded a dozen albums in his own name, and arranged for and played in the groups of Chick Corea and Bill Bruford, Garland's pedigree as one of the leading jazz saxophonist/composers of his generation is unquestionable. In addition, his collaborations with the country's finest musical institutions, including the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, set him apart as one of the UK's most progressive modern composers. Few musicians have such pedigree or such an abundance of talent, and yet amazingly, Garland still awaits an invitation to appear at the country's premier celebration of jazz, the London Jazz Festival.

Despite this anomaly Garland is in demand around the entire world and, as his Lighthouse Trio's Libra (Global Mix, 2009) demonstrates, with good reason. The second of this two-disc set captures Garland, with trio members Asaf Sirkis (percussion) and Gwilym Simcock (piano), in a live setting, displaying all the energy and innovation which has won the group so many plaudits. Simply put, there few jazz trios quite as compelling as The Lighthouse Trio. But it is the first disc which is the most arresting; here, Garland's imaginative writing brings jazz trio improvisation into the womb of a modern orchestral setting, in this case the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Garland is not the first, and is certainly not the only composer to attempt to fuse such musical polar opposites. Nevertheless, his synthesis of these two genres, and his attempt at achieving balance between the power and structure of an orchestra and the chamber intimacy and freedom typical of the best small jazz groups, places him amongst the foremost composers at the forefront of what Günther Schuller has termed The New Frontier.

Another recording, Celebrating Bach (Audio-B Recordings, 2009), sees Garland interpreting the music of Bach and Stravinsky on soprano saxophone in the company of the Northern Symphonia. Where Garland finds the time to also compose concertos for piano, saxophone and cello, as well as compose film scores is anybody's guess, though one suspects he has more hours than the usual twenty four in his days.

All About Jazz: Libra was three years in the making which is obviously a big investment, but you must be very pleased with the results, no?

Tim Garland: Yeah, absolutely. I remember talking with the people who did the artwork and they asked me how long it had taken, so when I told them I think they felt the gravity of how I felt about it. As a result I'm also very happy with the way it looks, which is all credit to them; they really pushed the boat out on my behalf. Of course, I'm really happy. Even if you listen back after the band has worked so long and you think "Oh, we play this much better now" but that is probably true of every recording. I wouldn't say better, I'd say differently.


Bob Perkins: The Art of Listening

Bob Perkins"It's BP with the GM!" That's how the famed and venerable jazz disc jockey Bob Perkins signs on the air, with the code for "Bob Perkins with the good music." And it's not just a slogan. Perkins has a way of selecting jazz that resonates with his listeners' tastes and represents thoughtful choices on his part that invariably convey something important about the music. His program always flows along and entices the listener. As he himself notes, his trade secret is "big ears"--his ability to listen. And he is listening not only to the music but to the musicians, the audience, and the tenor of the times. He wants to know what's on his listeners' minds, and he uses that information in his programming. Plus, Perkins frequently has musicians as guests on his show.

Indeed, Perkins has always heralded and supported Philadelphia jazz players, bolstering the local jazz scene and appearing regularly as a lecturer and concert emcee. (Recently, he gave talks on Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis to accompany related musical performances. In addition, he has emceed the Cape May Jazz Festival and other regional events.) Philly Jazz owes a great deal to Perkins, who has been in jazz radio for over thirty years, and in his current slot at WRTI-FM for more than a decade. And now Bob can be heard on the internet worldwide at, so readers anywhere can tune in.

Before he ventured into full-time jazz broadcasting, Perkins was for many years News and Editorial Director at the Philadelphia radio station WDAS, and as an African-American, he helped make inroads into the local political scene that helped the Civil Rights and Equality cause through his advocacy of discussion of issues rather than personalities. More than a jazz disc jockey, Perkins has had radio in his blood from the time he was a child. Appropriately, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia for his work.

AAJ: Since you're always spinning the "good music" on your show, what do you personally listen to on your car radio or at home?

BP: Actually, I very seldom listen music at home. I like the feeling of sharing with an audience, so it's something of a revelation to both myself and the audience, and we're both surprised at the same time, and hopefully delighted by what I play.