A more flexible platform. My iTunes music library continues to expand, as evidenced by my two-terabyte external hard drives. Meanwhile, iTunes has remained pretty much the same. What would I want if I could wave a magic wand? Let's start with a way to mark which track I left-off on. I often listen to box sets and want to remember where to pick-up my listening the next day. This would mean adding a column of little stars next to each track that I'd click to turn red or orange. I also want to highlight "wow" tracks in a color. And how about the ability to create categories within categories? Meaning I'd like to create a "new saxes" folder and within that folder create individual folders for each artist.
Adding images to WAV tracks. Some high-fidelity downloads for review from record companies and other sites are in the WAV (Waveform Audio File) format. Sounds great, but why won't iTunes let me drag and drop album covers into these tracks?
Making stuff bigger. My eyes are tired at day's end. Which means that I'd love to make the font of virtually everything inside the iTunes box larger—the library folders and track listings. From what I can tell, this isn't possible.
More titles. I'm constantly being told by readers of JazzWax in Europe, South America and Asia about new albums being added to iTunes that aren't at iTunes in the U.S. For example, Herbie Mann's Salute to the Flute is available in Europe and Canada. Or the fabulous French Chronological Classics series, which is now out of print. ITunes here stocks some of them (there are two under Charlie Ventura) but not others. So why are so many others available at iTunes in other countries, especially in the R&B category?
New Jersey wax. If you're in the New York area this weekend, the 38th annual Jazz Record Collectors Bash is being held on Saturday (June 30) at the Hilton Woodbridge in Iselin, N.J. You'll find rare 78s, LPs, CDs and memorabilia. You can buy, sell, swap, trade or just chew someone's ear off. For more information, go here. Need directions? Go here.
Speaking of Rene Urtreger. Last week, I posted on French pianist Rene Urtreger. Yesterday, Ted Hodgetts sent along the image above of a rare poster for sale at his retail site, Jazz First Books (click the image above to enlarge). The concert took place in Munich, Germany, as part of the Birdland '56 European concert tour. Unfamiliar with Ted's site? Take a look. There's a ton of rare jazz books and posters there—some pricy and some not so much. Go here.
Louis Armstrong. On Wednesday, July 4th, WKCR-FM in New York will present its annual Louis Armstrong broadcast special, playing Satchmo's music all day around the clock. A good day to read Terry Teachout's Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong while listening. You can access the station on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here.
Miles and Elevator music. Bret Primack, the Jazz Video Guy, tipped me off to a free showing on the web of Elevator to the Gallows, the 1958 French film starring Jeanne Moreau, with Miles Davis' trumpet playing throughout. To watch at Hulu, go here.
"Liltin'" Martha Tilton was a big band vocalist of the first order who was probably most famous for her vocal on Benny Goodman's And the Angels Sing (1939). Here's one I found that I know you'll like, featuring Tilton weighing in with her own brand of healthcare reform, from 1941...
A Mosaic tip. Last week, Mosaic Records sent out word that some of its limited edition box sets were running low. Among them was The Complete Roost Sonny Stitt Studio Sessions. As I wrote here back in March 2010, this is one of the label's major sleeper boxes. Great from start to finish. When this one's gone and you wish you had grabbed it, you can't say you weren't warned. For more information about the set, go here.
Oscar Peterson on jazz. Back in January 1954, Oscar Peterson wrote dishearteningly in Down Beat about young jazz musicians—particularly those in New York. Last week, pianist Joe Alterman sent along a link to the Peterson article. To read it, go here.
Hollywood radio. If you dig radio and have wondered where all the great disc jockeys went, they went to the Hollywood Hills, a comprehensive and widely read online newsletter published daily by Hollywood's Jack Roberts. To read and subscribe, go here.
The Carpenters. Not long ago I confessed to being a secret Carpenters fan. If you, too, share a touch of nostalgia for the '70s siblings, dig the site Carpenters: A Complete Recording Resource. Last week I granted permission for the site to re-print part of my recent interview with Hal Blaine on Karen and Richard Carpenter. To check it out, go here.
Your type of music. And speaking of Hal Blaine, he sent along this video clip last week featuring a Madrid symphony orchestra and a most unusual soloist...
CD discoveries of the week. Each track on tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer's new big band album For the Moment (MCG Jazz) is a breath of fresh Rio air. The CD's nine tracks all feature rollicking Brazilian tempos and Bob's clean and intricate arrangements. There are no samba cliches here or on-hold bossa novas. Instead, Bob leverages the pulse of South America and leaves plenty of room for his superb band and soloists to rise through the feel. Sample the title track by Bob and guitarist Chico Pinheiro's Irrequieto. I love this album for its sophisticated swing and find it to be Bob's finest outing to date.
Melissa Lauren can sing. And write. And she takes gorgeous risks, turning notes inside-out without ever landing flat or straining. On The Other Side, we hear nearly all originals, and Melissa's voice rings with intelligence. It's never forced or coy, like so many vocal albums today. Instead, she has a girlish modern sound, and her melodies and lyrics are engaging and meaningful. Sample Art Class, Wrapped Around My Finger and Senses. Think Stacey Kent and Kat Edmonson. And as a songwriter, she's a winner. An album for fans of female vocalists who have all the Songbook stuff they will ever need and are looking for something exquisite and dynamic.
If you dig New York and bluegrass, you may be surprised to learn that the two actually can work together. The Spirit Family Reunion is a six-piece roots band from Brooklyn that's so good they were invited to play at the Newport Folk Festival this year. On No Separation, the band sounds as authentic as the smell of birch logs burning in a cabin hearth, though this album was recorded in Brooklyn and Richmond, Va. Each original is wonderfully crafted with a folk feel—perfect for a summer evening in a wooded hollow or Flatbush flat. Rather than clicking-off tracks, go here and listen for yourself via their videoclips. Remember, you heard about 'em here first.
If you like your Country with a healthy dose of folk and a pinch of psychedelia, you'll go nuts over a new Jerry Reed two-fer from Real Gone Music. The album features Reed's first two albums remastered on one CD. The two were The Unbelievable Guitar & Voice of Jerry Reed (1966) and Nashville Underground (1967). Reed, who died in 2008, wasn't a traditional Opry singer. As a songwriter, he had more in common with Gordon Lightfoot than Nashville traditionalists of the period. On the groovy side, there's a harpsichord on tracks along with Reed's guitar and smooth-leather vocals, giving the material an acid wash. Sample It Don't Work That Way and It Comes to That, and I assure you you'll fall for Reed's unusual sound when Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul also were in the stores.
If you're unfamiliar with Cape Verdean chanteuse Titina, you're in luck. Portrait (Network) offers tracks from her recordings of the past 20 years as well as early '60s recordings. Tracks divide into nostalgic ballads and upbeat dance numbers. What's fascinating is you hear in Titina's music the essence of Cuban and Brazilian music, which makes sense given Cape Verde's history in exporting slaves to the Americas. For those without a globe, the Cape Verde Islands are off the coast of Western Africa in the central Atlantic Ocean. Sample Marcha De Oriundo and Catatau here. According to the liner notes, Titina today lives in Portugal. Soul music from another part of the world.
Oddball album cover of the week. Over the past two years, I have offered you oddball albums from the '50s featuring half-clad models in any number of poses, beckoning seductively in an effort to woo male record store browsers. I also have featured dozens of strange action photos on covers that also hoped to spark interest. But this one may take the cake as the saddest, most static and lethargic cover concept of them all. Seems if ever an album called for a groggy-eyed vixen in an evening dress holding two drinks, this was it.