Sunday, January 07, 2007

Music Notes for December 2006

Okay, I haven't been able to get any new music, and no one has sent anything to me to review, so I don't have much to say right now. However, I figured I could pass on a few thoughts on that have been going through my speakers as I work.

On iTunes:
I have been listening to a couple different radio stations. The last few days, I've listened to Pat Metheny Radio (which can also be accessed by his website). They rotate about three or four different playlists, but I don't know how often. This gives a wonderful cross section of his work in all contexts, demonstrating the breadth of Metheny's music without a lot of the jarring feeling one might get moving from a piece he might have recorded with his group to something he did for a soundtrack. Speaking of which, I even got to hear pieces from his Passagio Per Il Paradiso, one of the few cds he has recorded that I have not hear all the way through. Each playlist contains at least one track from his latest with Brad Mehldau. Right now, the playlist features two songs from the upcoming quartet disc with Mehldau (Metheny Mehldau 2).

In the "Classical" section of iTunes radio, there is a stations called Whisperings. It is solo piano, but it really isn't classical music. I could see most people categorizing it as new age, but I don't quite see it that way. It is relaxing and enjoyable. I have listened to it mostly in the morning during my quiet reading time or while I was trying to relax at work.

In the "Jazz" section is a pretty nice station called Forever Cool. This is a pretty nice place for some classic jazz, particularly if you are into West Coast or "Cool" jazz. I have really liked this station not only for the good tunes I already enjoy, but they do play some cuts that aren't likely to make it to KNTU, my regular jazz station, like from imports or alternate takes. It is the one place lately I'm likely to hear Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, and Dave Brubeck in the same hour. That makes for some nice listening!

All these iTunes stations have free and pay versions, though the only "commercial" on the Pat Metheny station is really for the station itself and his website. I'm too cheap and broke to listen to radio I have to pay for, but the commercials aren't too bad. My main problem with this, and often with iTunes in general, is that the player takes so much memory or something to play that if I am multi-tasking too much, then I sometimes end up with my machine freezing up as I'm working. That can be more than a bit of a hassle.

Welcome back Mark Chapman!
Alright, I know Mark and his show, The Art of Sound, didn't really go away, but I didn't get to listen to it for awhile, and when I came back, there was a lot of stuff in its place, including a Big Band show that was really the same damn thing every single time I listened. But it does appear that his show is back to mostly regular times (about 7 to 10 p.m., weekdays, with some other jazz shows following). If you enjoy an eclectic mix of great jazz then this is the place to be. Mark (with Bruce Tator joining on Wednesdays) knows a lot about the history of America's music, and is fascinating to listen to, but doesn't talk so much that you forget the music.

And for those who like Smooth Jazz (I prefer to call it Safe Jazz mixed with R&B), KETR does play this from 5-7 weeknights and from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. overnight.

Playlists on Winamp
Of course, I've been listening to a few of my playlists through Winamp lately too. I have a good playlist for jazz piano trios and one for jazz guitar. Also there is one for my quiet times called "relax." That one sometimes gets started and stays on as I work. Too much stress for the holidays. I love Winamp because it does not require a lot of memory and there are hundreds of skins that make it a bit fun. I've actually set mine to change skins with each song. Doing that is fun, but sometimes when it goes from a "Classic" skin to a "Modern" one and back again, there are problems. But overall, this is an excellent player for listening to stuff on your computer, which for me, is the best stereo I've ever had. Anyway, i don't know who or what the llama is, but its ass is definitely kicked with Winamp.

Christmas Pageant
Of course the highlight of my Christmas in the past few years has been the Pageant at my church. This year my Christina has a little solo and it was delicious. The whole thing went really well this year and I again found myself warmed and actually ready to enjoy Christmas. Much praise to God and thanks to Helen and the multitude of volunteers for a truly edifying experience.

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