Me in 1975
|"Researchers have scanned musicians' brains and found that the 'chills' that they feel when they hear stirring passages of music result from activity in the same parts of the brain stimulated by food and sex." — Drake Bennett, Survival of the harmonious|
|My musical history Favorite artists Favorite albums In Memoriam Links Ringtones 60s music Search MP3 Songs Videos|
|Music has always been one of my greatest passions. I grew up playing music, and when I was in my twenties in the early 70s I had developed into a jazz bassist and I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. You might say that before I was a programmer I was more in touch with my right-brain (but jazz is very technical and also uses a lot of left-brain activity). Although I'm not actively performing anymore, music is still one of my first loves and I can often be seen with my iPod's distinctive white earbuds in my ears. I have broadened my tastes beyond the jazz I loved so much at one time, but improvisational music will always be my favorite style, and jazz is the ultimate form of that because there are no boundaries to the influences on jazz musicians. For my current musical choices see a list of the songs I listen to on my iPod (now smartphone). Search this page for "iPod" for many iPod tips.|
Studying music greatly enhances one's appreciation and performing abilities, but it can also "unsynchronize" you with the public's awareness of music. This priceless video says so much about the unenlightened views one encounters in life after a musical education.
(Read the great comments on YouTube!)
I don't know if that is the appropriate term, but I want to make it clear that while I still enjoy music as much as I ever did it is almost
entirely as a listener, not a player. I no longer have a bass but I still have a piano, which doesn't get as much attention as it deserves (my
son, a very talented keyboardist, plays it when he visits). This was not planned, it just evolved.
While I don't actively play an instrument anymore I still listen to music quite a lot. I have used an iPod for years and have recently loaded all this same music on my smartphone. I have always used iTunes to manage my music for my iPod, and on my Droid phone I got an app called iSyncr that accesses iTunes on my PC (on an iPhone you can use iTunes directly because both are Apple products) and lets me load all the same music including playlists. I like having the music on my cellphone because it is always in my pocket.
|"The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain. . . . Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves." — Arthur Schopenhauer|
|Music has always been a part of my life. I began taking piano lessons at age 7 in Payette, Idaho, and in 6th grade I took up trumpet, playing in the concert and marching bands. Since I had a lot of drive and practiced diligently I was able to achieve the first chair position, which I held through 8th grade. When I started high school band, there were many older and more experienced trumpet players already there, so with my desire to always be the best in the section I switched to French horn, which I played for a year. At the end of my freshman year the lead trombone player graduated from high school, so with an eye on that position I decided to switch to trombone. My older brother had played trombone before, so we had one at home, and by practicing a lot during the summer and playing in several outdoor concerts at the bandshell in the park, I got my chops in order and successfully achieved first chair trombone in the high school band. After 10th grade I dropped out of band, for reasons I don't remember anymore, possibly boredom, or maybe I thought being in band was un-cool, a very important consideration to an adolescent. The last two years of high school I was not actively playing music, but when I went off to college in 1966, I did what many of my generation were doing—I grew my hair long, took up guitar, and joined a rock band.|
|One of my first experiences with hearing outstanding, contemporary jazz performed live was at a daytime concert in Seward Park in Seattle about 1968. Charles Lloyd was playing with his group which consisted of him on sax, Keith Jarrett on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums (I didn't learn until many years later that I heard some of the best musicians play that day). After this I started to listen to jazz more frequently and began experimenting with my own style of playing.|
|Studying music in college|
|After several years of playing a variety of improvisational types of music on guitar, I started playing more and more jazz, and I decided that to better understand this complex music I wanted to study it in college. I was living in Seattle at the time but the school I chose was Berklee College of Music in Boston. When I started at Berklee (1973) the school had an abundance of guitar players and a shortage of bass players, so I was asked if I would consider switching to upright bass? Knowing I would be just one of many struggling guitarists I made the switch, which turned out to be a good choice because, since there were so few acoustic bass players at school, we were always in demand. I studied at Berklee for two years under John Neves and John Repucci. The recording and touring bass players that I was most inspired by at that time were Dave Holland, Stanley Clarke, Miroslav Vitous, and Charlie Haden, four bassists with very distinctive styles.|
|Live jazz in Boston in the 70s|
|While I was in school I went regulary to the local Jazz Clubs in Boston including the Jazz Workshop, Paul's Mall, the 1369 Club, Ryles, and Michael's Pub. One of my favorite clubs was Debbie's, a small place on Merrimac Street near Government Center that had great local performers every night (I remember guitarist John Scofield was a regular there while he was going to Berklee) and big bands played on Monday nights (the only night with a cover-charge, something like $1). Occasionally a well-known artist on tour would sit in with the locals. In addition to going to the clubs to see great live music I also saw a lot at school (Berklee) and the New England Conservatory, which has a great jazz department. See Boston's Jazz History for more on the jazz scene in Boston in those days.|
|My perspective on things has frequently leaned towards the cutting-edge so my taste in music ultimately evolved into the avant−garde style that was being performed in the 70s in the jazz lofts. This very non-commercial style of music had a serious following among musicians and some fine recordings of it can be found on the Wildflowers series. When these musicians came to Boston, they usually didn't play in the well known clubs, but they did find that, like New York, Boston had a loft scene. Some of the best music I heard when I was in college was performed in the jazz lofts. In an Atlantic Monthly article, "Jazz − Religious and Circus", Francis Davis writes about how many of us viewed the 1970s as the "Golden Age" of jazz. Alan Douglas, who recorded the Wildflowers sessions, says, "I think the loft jazz period was the last time that significant changes took place in jazz."|
|Much of the jazz I listened to over the years was produced before I was into it so being a contemporary person my tastes evolved quite naturally into jazz fusion, a mixture of Jazz & Rock or Jazz & Latin music that took off in the 70s. Some of my favorites in this genre are Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever (Chick Corea's group), and Tony Williams Lifetime (Williams was Miles Davis' drummer in the 60s). My all-time favorite album is Bitches Brew by Miles Davis, recorded in 1969 (see a Bitches Brew video) and featuring some of the best musicians of the time, many who went on to have their own fusion bands. An album I consider one of the best ever recorded is Wayne Shorter's Native Dancer, released in 1974 and featuring a lot of Brazilian jazz musicians. John McLaughlin released one of my favorite fusion albums in 1969 with fellow British musicians called Extrapolation that is so good that I still think it ranks with the best. And another one of the best fusion albums that also came out in 1969 is Miroslav Vitous's Mountain in the Clouds. There are references to these albums and others below under Favorite albums.|
|By the end of the 70s, although my interest in jazz remained very intense, my desire to play music for a living had lessened, so I basically reached the end of that pursuit. Since that time my creative energy has been consumed by computer programming and though some might find it hard to believe, I get some of the same creative fulfillment as a programmer I received from being a musician. I have heard that these two interests involve the same parts of the brain.|
When my kids became teenagers I was exposed to musical styles that I might not have discovered on my own, some of which were not even around
when I was younger. My son Alex turned me on to Ska *, and in summer 2000 we
went to a concert by Reel Big Fish, one of the top American Ska groups, and
I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how a lot of Ska bands took previously recorded songs and did them in a Ska style. Come On Eileen,
a top-40 song by Dexy's Midnight Runners, was redone by the group Save Ferris (that great name
comes from the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"),
and Take On Me, a top-40 hit by the Norwegian group a-ha,
was redone by Reel Big Fish.
Both of my sons have been actively involved in music. Alex took piano lessons for several years, and sang in a rock band in high school and college. Ben is also quite accomplished on piano (I love to hear him play songs like Scott Joplin's The Entertainer) and is a great singer. He has taken voice lessons, and he sang in the high school chorus and performed in school plays. When he was in high school he participated in a yearly performance by the Southeast Region District Chorus, which has the top singers from all the school choruses in the area. We have always enjoyed Broadway musicals when they are in Boston. We would buy the CDs of these shows and the boys have grown up listening to this music, like Rent and Phantom of the Opera. Now that the boys have graduated from college and started their adult lives I don't get to hear them perform music, but I know it is in their genes to love it as I do.
It may appear that I have abandoned jazz, but I prefer to think that I am just not actively involved at the moment. Is jazz dead? On Sunday, August 4, 2002, there was an article in The Boston Globe, "Off the record," describing how the recording industry may think so. I hope not.
Although decades have passed, some of my greatest musical euphorias were experienced in the mid-70s. One of my favorite groups will always be
the Mahavishnu Orchestra of those days. I still can get chills listening to some of their
performances. As a jazz aficionado I acquired an extensive
collection of recordings by John Coltrane, who was always my favorite improvising musician, and I spent many hours listening to Trane and other tenor players who were
greatly influenced by him, like Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, and Wayne Shorter. One of the best concerts I ever attended was a duo of John
Surman on bari-sax and Miroslav Vitous on bass at the small, intimate Jonathan Swift's club in Harvard Square about 1975.
Listed below are some of the people who have really moved me through the years. The musicians listed by instrument are jazz musicians; non-jazz musicians and groups are listed at the end. Some of the groups may no longer exist and sadly, some of the musicians have passed away (see In Memoriam), but I still want to list them here because they will always rank as some of my favorites. There are also some musicians listed below under 60s music. Photos of many of these artists can be seen at DowntownMusic.net. See videos by many of these artists at Music videos.
|I have included a link to each artist's page at All Music Guide for the discographies, cross-reference links, and song previews. Periodically AMG reorganizes their website and some of these links stop working. I try to correct them when I notice this. Please email me if you encounter a bad link.|
|I have links to some of the artist's videos on YouTube.|
|(vid)||Click to see artist's video(s).|
|Singers, groups, and others|
Most of my favorite albums were recorded in the early 70s, when I was studying jazz at Berklee College of Music
in Boston. At that time I was thrilled to experience so much really outstanding music, and the quality is so great I never get tired of
listening to it. Though most of these albums are jazz-based, over the years I've listened to and loved a lot of music that is not jazz, like Bob
Dylan, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd (see My iPod songs for what I listen to now), but improvised
music with extended solos will always be my favorite.
All these albums have such musical virtuosity that decades later I still enjoy listening to them immensely (now ripped to my iPod). Click on the
album to go to its page on Allmusic.com where you can sample the songs.
I have a Favorites playlist on my iPod, which has songs from many of these albums.
Sadly not every artist whose music I love is still with us. Here are some of those who have passed on in my lifetime, many that I had the
privilege of seeing perform live.
R.I.P. these fabulous musicans and long live their legacies. The names are links to Wikipedia. Hover over name for more info.
|Reference & reviews|
|Streaming audio (see Stream an audio file for more on streaming)|
|I love the freedom ringtones give you to personalize your cellphone, so when someone calls you know it is your phone ringing. You can
even have different ringtones for different callers. Try to use ringtones as unique as possible so you immediately recognize them because you
don't want to think your cell is ringing when someone else's is. There are many websites that allow you to purchase and download ringtones
directly to your phone, but if you want a really unlimited selection you can make your own from any song on your PC and transfer them to your
phone (see below).
Here are some ringtones I made from songs I like (I use Goldwave, a shareware audio editor). They are small segments of the original songs (hopefully this prevents copyright infringement)—some are the intros to the songs and some are instrumental sections I cut and edited—I didn't include any singing because I don't like voices on phone rings. I usually like ringtones that start softly and build so they are not startling when they go off. The ones listed here are typically 15-20 seconds long (saved as 96kbps and mono to decrease size) and they will loop on a cellphone so the end should segue into the beginning. Keep them small because there may be a size limit on your cell.
Click on a song to play it—to copy a song to your computer right click on the title and choose Save Link/Target As.
|There are several ways to put a ringtone from your PC on your cellphone:
Because I was a teenager in the 1960s, the music of that time played a big part in my life. Like many young
people of that era I was in a rock band that existed primarily for our own entertainment, although
we did play a few gigs at fraternities and sororities on campus. In Seattle
I went regularly to concerts by the top West Coast groups of the day at the
Eagles Auditorium, and in 1968 (the year before Woodstock) I
joined 20,000 other "social revolutionaries, hippie communalists, psychedelic evangelists, musicians, and music fans" to attend one of
the world’s first outdoor rock festivals, the 3-day Sky River Rock Festival and
Lighter than Air Fair (see photos, a 30-year review and a 40-year review), and in 1969 I went to Sky River II (see festival pictures). Not every band listed on the poster showed up, but there was still a
tremendous amount of great music. One thing besides music that I enjoyed was Richard Prior doing a standup comedy routine.
Here are some more links to that music.
|Multimedia search engines|
|These search engines allow you to search for songs on sites like mine (or like mine used to be). The results typically provide the ability to listen to songs from the sites where they are found. If the link to play the song goes diredtly to the song file, to save a copy of the song put the mouse pointer on the link and press the right mouse button, and from the context menu choose Save Target/Link As. If the link goes to a webpage or player and not directly to the song, you can look in your browser cache after the song has played and you may be able to copy it from there. Sometimes you have to rename it and put an extension (usually .mp3) on it.|
|These MP3 search applications, pioneered by Napster, allow you to find shared files offered by others using software that you install on your PC. They are the best way get your own copies of audio files, although the RIAA is forcing the government to crack down on this process (I had to stop sharing). Also, some are rumored to install spyware (hidden software tracking your web-surfing habits) on your PC, and you can also download viruses, so be cautious. If you do frequent downloads, it is always a good idea to run anti-virus and anti-spyware programs regularly to keep your system clean. Many of these are clients of Gnutella, a large open protocol distributed file-sharing network.|
"The real threat of MP3 music piracy—to listeners and, conceivably, democracy itself—is the music industry's reaction to it."
— Charles C. Mann, The Atlantic Monthly
|RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)|
The above quotation ("The real threat...") is from an article, "The Heavenly Jukebox", that includes a history of the MP3, which is one of the digital formats for music that has become very popular
on the Internet. Because they are ubiquitous and you can download them for free, MP3s have the RIAA all freaked out. In
2001 the RIAA took peer-to-peer file-sharing company Napster to court and put them out of business, and in 2003 they started
going after individual "major offenders", those who offered more than 1,000 songs to others for downloading. The RIAA has the
rather short-sighted view that being able to download MP3 songs for free will keep people from purchasing the CDs. MP3s actually
provide a great way to sample songs before buying a CD, and people will continue to make purchases if the music is good. As far
as MP3s being a threat to the royalty income the musicians receive from CD sales, according to the previously mentioned
Atlantic Monthly article, if it exists at all this income is miniscule.
This is from the testimony in the trial of a Minnesota woman which resulted in her being fined $222.000 for sharing music. It looks like the RIAA are even bigger idiots than imagined.
One can also be introduced to a new artist via MP3s, especially someone esoteric like Tin Hat Trio, who lacks the heavy marketing of the more commercial artists. I discovered them almost by accident (on a music system in Starbucks no less), yet I still purchased Tin Hat Trio's CDs, even though I knew I could download some of their MP3 music for free. Or suppose you have a song on a CD that you want to share with someone who lives far away from you. You can convert the song from the CD (rip it) to an MP3 file and send it as an email attachment, which may even encourage that person to go out and buy the CD, thereby increasing sales.
I don't know where the MP3 litigation will ultimately end up, but in the meantime MP3s provide some interesting technical
solutions. For instance, when I wanted to put a song I liked on a cassette tape to listen to in my Walkman (the old days), I could only
locate it in the MP3 format (it was also made on 7" vinyl but I couldn't find that). To get my MP3 on tape I had to
burn it to a CD, which I then played on a regular stereo system and recorded it to tape. For mobile music I use an
iPod now so I still convert many individual songs to MP3s from CDs or vinyl recordings
(see Convert a record or tape) to load them.
As MP3 usage and the software to do things with them gets more common, some of the tips I put here are no longer needed, and I will try to keep this section up−todate. Many of these tips make reference to various software I use (names in green italics). See see MP3 tools for more on these.
YouTube to MP3 Converter
|Top of section|
|These are some of the tools I have used to manipulate MP3s. Some shareware/freeware may contain spyware, so use caution when installing them.
|MP3 songs info & tips above MIDI files below I also have Videos|
|For years I had playable MP3s listed on my website, until I received the following in an email from my web-hosting provider. I have complied to prevent my website from being shut down.|
I have moved my website to another hosting company since receiving that threat, but to play it safe I am still not sharing music here, and it appears I removed these files just in time, because a week later I read this story about a woman who was found guilty of sharing music "illegally" and fined $220,000!
After receiving this email I emailed them back and asked if they could site some of the songs that were identified. Strangely, the ones they listed were songs that I actually ripped from vinyl albums that I owned (making me the legal owner), but most of the songs I shared were not acquired by purchases so I removed them all.
My music has always been one of the big draws to my website, so I am taking away something that people loved, and after awhile the music search engines will no longer show me having these songs, so I know the number of my visitors will decrease. I am still sharing ringtones, which I believe is still safe because they are only snippets of songs. Thank you RIAA, for improving the quality of our lives.
|These MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files are digitized, instrumental versions of the original songs.|