some thoughts on music streaming …. and new releases !

The British magazine Jazzwise printed in their recent issue an article by writer Stuart Nicholson about digital streaming, entitled ‘Stream Machine’. Nicholson is asking a valid question with “how long are streaming services going to hang on to music that’s not generating revenue”, meaning the underuse of millions of tracks from niche genres and is pointing out in comparison, that Netflix did cut its content of films made before 1950 to just 25, because of the same problem. With streaming being song oriented, so argues Nicholson, jazz and related niche genres are falling through the system. If you add to that the bad presentation of jazz on most streaming services, one could think Nicholson might be right and one should for sure be worried.

But there is, in my opinion,  another possible scenario: all streaming services are fighting for growth by adding subscribers, but slowly the pop subscriptions will be or are already slowing down and in the fight for additional income the services might start to look into the smaller genres like classical music, jazz, folk etc. Once the music is presented in a way the jazz consumer wants (more relevant information on sidemen, recording dates, etc and artists with the same name separated by instrument or date of birth ..) and in better sound quality (here amazon made the first move already) than there is a good chance that jazz fans will migrate to streaming services faster and subscribe. And with that, make the niche repertoire for the streaming services worth having within their businesses. Of course, it will as well depend on what the stand of the big record companies will be on that … they are not only holding the biggest jazz catalogues, but as well a share in some of the streaming services and for all of them Jazz is only about 1 % of their overall business …. Interesting times indeed!! And maybe time to think about all label including genre oriented streaming services for niche repertoire like Jazz and classical music ….

recommended new music:

Julie Campiche / ONKALO – on her first record under her own name, Swiss harpist Julie Campiche is creating wonderful soundscapes and spaces for improvisation for her band, which includes saxman Leo Fumagalli, bass player Manu Hagmann and drummer Clemens Kuratle. Five out of the six composition on the album are by Campiche and show her talent as a writer with a unique style, using the talents of her co-musicians perfectly. Her sound on the harp is very individual and captivating, her music from groovy to contemplative, from ambient to modern jazz, with deep musical content, at the same time accessible and challenging and rewarding when listening closely. And it can be all that in one song … without losing its magic!! Julie Campiche is sure an artist to have an eye on for the future! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zukiErFon0

Cherise / Paradise EP – Singer, flautist Cherise (Adams-Burnett) is one of these rare musicians that pop up only once in a while: last year she won the Jazz Vocalist of the Year Award from Jazz FM in the UK without having even released any of her own music, just based on the merit of her work in various projects, all above Tomorrow’s Warriors and Nubiyan Twist. Her debut EP is including 4 songs written by her, showcasing the composing talents as well her incredible vocal skills. These songs are modern, nu soul, jazzy tunes which reveal a variety of influences. The title track is a soul number that leans on India.Arie, without losing its originality. ‘Violet Nights’ swings lightly and has a beautiful little groove – a classy jazz tune. ‘Siren Song’ has a more cinematic feel and the final track on the EP, ‘Felicity’is a beautiful slower song. A very promising debut from an artist we will for sure hear a lot more in the coming years!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMbGmk9DDe8

Eunhye Jeong / The Colliding Beings, Chi-Da – This new exciting live recording is pianist Eunhye Jeong’s fourth record as a leader or co-leader, of her latest concert Chi-Da, the free improvisation project that encourages colliding worlds of different performers and aims to achieve the harmony through the independency of each musician involved in the act. Eunhye Jeon, together with Soo Jin Suh on drums, Il-dong Bae on vocals and JI Park on cello created some powerful music, with all tracks giving space to improvisations and communication between the musicians. All songs, except one, being over 12 minutes long, with ‘The Hope Landed’ standing at 25 minutes and leading the listener into a place, where only expression through sound exists. The recorded concert has an intensity that is unusual, draws one into the music and one is captured by all performances and the haunting sound of the human voice. The singing reminds me a lot of Kim Duk Soo’s SamulNori, with whom I did some recordings with a jazz band (Red Sun) in the late 80’s. The singer then was Lee Kwang Soo and the band Red Sun featured sax player Wolfgang Puschnig, singer Linda Sharrock, bass player Jamaaladeen Tacuma and pianist Uli Scherer and their music had the same intensity and global power. Eunhye Jeong is a force in improvised music and this record deserves to be heard by many.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSFufq7j1CE

Roberta Piket / Piket Plays Mintz – this unique and beautiful recording started out as a birthday gift from pianist Roberta Piket for her husband, drummer and composer Billy Mintz. As she says in the liner notes:I appreciate Billy’s direct, personal approach to composition; they have an open quality which gives the performer the freedom to put forth her own viewpoint. Yet in every piece, I hear Billy’s distinct voice and vision. It’s a voice free of grandiosity, music pared down to its essence without unnecessary elaboration”. These emotionally charged solo piano recordings not only show what great compositions Mintz has, but as well what a sensible and wonderfully skilled pianist Roberta Piket is. A record for quiet hours, to listen and enjoy.  A true treasure!

Robin McKelle / Alterations – singer/song writer McKelle digs for her new album into the works of some of the most celebrated female artists of the past and present: from Billie Holiday via Joni Mitchell to Amy Winehouse and Adele, to name just a few. McKelle is joined on this release by pianist and arranger Shedrick Mitchell, acoustic and electric bassist Richie Goods, drummer Charles Haynes and outstanding guitarist Nir Felder.  Guest performances by saxophonist Keith Loftis and trumpeter Marquis Hill are completing the list of participating musicians. McKelle’s singing as usually is immaculate and I truly like how Robin makes all the songs her own, gives them personality and connects them through a great concept.  Outstanding tracks for me are ‘Back To Black’, ‘Don’t Explain’, ‘River’, ‘Mercedes Benz’ and her own composition ‘Head High’, which stands equally within all these jewels. A record that will spin for a while on my player.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TM5UNyTFYk

VA Virginia Schenk / Battle Cry – “What I sing matters. What I say matters. I see myself as a peacemaker and networker, someone who weaves worlds and people together. In 2016, my vision changed”, says VA, and ‘Battle Cry’ is her response to that change. The singer brought with her to the studio for this album pianist Kevin Bales, bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Marlon Patton, who have been VA’s core working band for the past decade. Add to that tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams, guitarist Rick Lollar and spoken word artist James Benson and the line-up is complete. Her versions of ‘Bali Hai’, ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ and ‘Strange Fruit’ are excellent and valid statements for our times and the only original on the album ‘Hear My Battle Cry’ is a groovy affair with strong lyrics, who make clear that for VA  “My music is my resistance”!  Recommended!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hek6aNttm3g

Elliot Galvin / Live In Paris, at Foundation Louis Vuitton – Galvin is for sure one of the young and upcoming UK jazz musicians. He is an extremely talented improviser and composer, as he has showcased as member of the group Dinosaur or with his own projects and recordings. The 6 pieces on this live album are completely free improvised and showcasing a musician’s brilliance in instant composing, as well as a storyteller, whose means to tell his story is his instrument. Outstanding tracks for me are ‘For J. S.’, ‘Time and Everything’ and the beautiful ‘Broken Windows’. But that might change, as with every listen I hear more nuances, discover little somethings I hadn’t heard earlier …. For sure a record that grows with listening to it. Wonderful!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_PfBUgB7R0

John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain / Is That So? – Guitar star McLaughlin has a long history of working with Indian musicians, going back to the original Shakti band from 1976, via Remember Shakti and now this outstanding trio, featuring the master himself on guitar, guitar synthesizer and orchestrations, as well as tabla legend and long-time collaborator Zakir Hussain and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. ‘Is That So?’ might have been six years in the making, but it sounds fresh and exciting and the music is touching and most likely one of the best offerings in the meetings of musicians from East and West. Shankar Mahadevan’s voice is clear and soaring over the sounds McLaughlin creates and the beats Hussain sets out to keep it all together. Sensational!!!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQRl6mhpq8M

Roberta Piket / Piket Plays Mintz – this unique and beautiful recording started out as a birthday gift from pianist Roberta Piket for her husband, drummer and composer Billy Mintz. As she says in the liner notes: “I appreciate Billy’s direct, personal approach to composition; they have an open quality which gives the performer the freedom to put forth her own viewpoint. Yet in every piece, I hear Billy’s distinct voice and vision. It’s a voice free of grandiosity, music pared down to its essence without unnecessary elaboration”. These emotionally charged solo piano recordings not only show what great compositions Mintz has, but as well what a sensible and wonderfully skilled pianist Roberta Piket is. A record for quiet hours, to listen and enjoy.  A true treasure!

Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow / Life Goes On – This trio is working together on and off since 1994 and now has developed into one of the most exciting small jazz groups around – and the intelligent and witty compositions by Carla get the best out of the three players. ‘Life Goes On’ is a three suite album: ‘Life Goes On’ is the first and showcases the trios chamber music qualities, with a bit of blues thrown in; ‘Beautiful Telephones’ is Bley at her best – she has summed it up as “a piece where things get excited and then impatient and then excited again and then change. Nothing stays the same because, with the attention span of the President, we have to quickly change the music, too.” The Third suite ‘Copycat’ is playing around with the call and response notion in jazz in an exciting and meaningful way. All three players sound exceptional good and are at ease with each other and the material. An early contender for album of the year!

Audrey Ochoa / Frankenhorn – Young Canadian trombonist Ochoa is a rising star in her own right, a skilled composer, exciting performer and not afraid to play in any genre that fits her musical expressions. All songs, except one, are her compositions … mixing her trombone with piano, bass and drums, as well as strings to create a melange of chamber music, groove and contemporary jazz. Her sidemen are Chris Andrew on piano/keyboards, Sandro Dominelli on drums, Mike Lent and Rubim de Toledo on bass, Luis Tovar and Raul Tabera on percussion, Kate Svrcek and Shannon Johnson on violin, Ian Woodman on cello and special guest Battery Poacher, who created cool remixes for two of the tracks. Surprising in its variety and quality, this is a cool record to discover. Audrey Ochoa will as well perform in April at jazzahead in Bremen – go and check her out!!!!

Dan Loomis / Job’s Trials – Called a Jazz Song Cycle or, even better, a jazz oratorio, this is an ambitious recording project by bass player Dan Loomis and his band, consisting of vocalists Yoon Sun Choi and Song Yi Jeon, Jeff Miles on guitar, Jared Schonig on drums and Daniel Breaker as narrator. ‘Job’s Trials’ is an innovative, genre-bending work that uses the power of the human voice and the expressive palette of jazz to tell one of the world’s most poignant and ancient stories. Loomis uses spoken interludes between the songs to create a narrative that the music supports dramatically. The voices of the two Korean singers are expressive and soulful and make this unusual project work in a special way. Great music, nothing less!!!

2 responses to “some thoughts on music streaming …. and new releases !

  1. Pingback: REVIEW: Robin McKelle Alterations reviewed by Wulf Muller - LYDIALIEBMAN.COM

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