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Cool links and random thoughts about jazz…

  • Jazz in Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos) ↗

    A visual representation of Dolby Atmos
    A visual representation of Dolby Atmos. (Source: Dolby website)

    Jazz really sounds great in these new, Dolby Atmos mixes that have been appearing on Apple Music. It’s like enhanced 5.1 surround sound, where the producer or mix engineer can place instruments in a 3D space. And, unlike 5.1, you don’t need a complex, multi-speaker setup to enjoy the immersive experience: you can listen on AirPods when you’re out for a walk.

    I listen mainly on my Mac on a standard pair of Sony MDR-7506s (and therefore I’m listening to what’s known as binaural audio). If you’re using wired headphones in this way, any pair will work. You’ll just need to make sure the Always On option is selected in the Apple Music app (under Preferences → Playback). Full details on how to listen on iPhones, iPads and various brands of wireless headphones are available on the Apple website.

    Recordings I’ve listened to hundreds of times (John Coltrane’s Blue Trane and Esbjörn Svensson Trio’s 301, for instance), have never sounded so good. Some panning on older records can be a bit extreme, where the saxophone might be placed fully left, and the drums fully right, with only some bleed between the two. The Atmos mixes tend to sound much more pleasing, with more space for the mix to breathe. And on newer recordings, the results are similarly great: check out Ethan Iverson’s Every Note Is True and Bill Charlap Trio’s Street of Dreams.

    I’ve compiled a playlist of some of my favourite tracks with Atmos mixes. Apple also has a playlist which is regularly updated as new recordings become available.

  • Brad Mehldau book ↗

    Brad Mehldau has an autobiographical book out called Formation: Building a Personal Canon, Part 1. From the blurb on Brad’s website:

    The book creates a vibrantly-written portrait of the jazz world in New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s, showing how a generation of musicians met and sparked off one another to take the music in new directions, drawing on a wealth of influences but also keeping sight of tradition, including those rooted in both the jazz and classical worlds. The atmosphere of the clubs, the creative scene in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and Brad’s early experiences of touring are brilliantly brought to life. […]

    I’ve been a fan of Brad’s music since I heard Largo in 2002. Other album favourites of mine are Elegiac Cycle (1999), Live in Tokyo (2002) and Day is Done (2006). I’ve listened to those recordings a lot!

  • Behind the scenes with Thelonious Monk in ‘Rewind & Play’ ↗

    The New Yorker:

    Alain Gomis’s film is a treasure trove of Monk in performance and a revealing look at common documentary practices.

    Also: trailer, New York Times review, and an Ethan Iverson essay originally written for the Jazz Icons DVD (now out of print) featuring the same footage.

  • Musicwriter ↗

    Photograph of a Musicwriter typewriter
    From a Musicwriter ad. (Source: Music Printing History)

    Music Printing History:

    The Musicwriter is a typewriter that was used to print music. It was invented by Cecil S. Effinger, a noted choral composer, music professor, and inventor. It eventually sold around the world. Working with various manufacturers, Mr. Effinger was able to produce over five thousand Musicwriters from 1956 to 1990.

    Also: discussion on tech forum Hacker News.

  • Floris Nico Bunink, restless bopper advised by Bill Evans ↗

    Werner Herbers, in a piece translated from the original Dutch, published at Point of Departure:

    And finally, there’s that eight-page handwritten memo from Bill Evans, which Nico described as “many pearls of wisdom.” Bunink was insecure about his musical background and Evans, seeing him as “a friend in need” wanted to put some courage into him. So he supplied Nico with a handwritten list of tips: music to listen to, things to know. Later, Nico claimed Evans had written it all out while on a break at the Village Vanguard in 1961. But in a 1979 note to Nico, Evans recalled writing it 15 years earlier – when both pianists were in California.

    Here is the misspellings-and-all text, as best we can make it out: […]

    Evans concludes the notes thus:

    Be concerned with nothing but music. Take care of music and all other things will follow (such as recognition, work etc.)
  • The Keith Jarrett interview ↗

    Wow, this video from Rick Beato was a wonderful surprise. Includes Keith playing piano.

    Rick Beato watches as Keith Jarrett improvises over a tune with his right hand
    A still from Rick Beato’s Keith Jarrett interview, in which Rick watches as Keith improvises over a tune with his right hand. (Source: Rick Beato/YouTube)

  • Sound ↗

    An amazing interactive explainer on sound by Bartosz Ciechanowski:

    Invisible and relentless, sound is seemingly just there, traveling through our surroundings to carry beautiful music or annoying noises. In this article I’ll explain what sound is, how it’s created and propagated.
  • 5 minutes that will make you love bebop ↗

    New York Times (paywalled):

    Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell: they altered the course of American music and raised the bar for improvisation. Listen to 10 experts’ favorites.

    Also: other articles in the series.

  • Plotting the future of the most storied studio in jazz ↗

    New York Times (paywalled):

    The New Jersey recording space built in 1959 by Rudy Van Gelder is filled with history. Can it regain its glory without getting stuck in the past?
  • JJazzLab-X: a Midi-based framework for automatic backing tracks generation ↗


    JJazzLab-X is a Midi-based framework dedicated to backing tracks generation – some people talk about “play-along songs” or “auto-accompaniment applications”. You type in chord symbols, select a rhythm (style), then the application generates a complete backing track with drums, bass, guitar, piano, strings, etc.

    The objective is to develop a jam buddy able to quickly generate intelligent and interesting backing tracks: realistic and non-boring backing tracks which you can easily adjust to a specific song.

    There’s a desktop app for macOS, Linux and Windows, and you can watch a demo video on YouTube.