Like you, I'm an avid music buyer and listener. And like any consumer, I have my gripes. No, this post isn't about the death of record stores or misplaced nostalgia for the LP. I'm good with downloads; I'm just not happy with what I'm getting and I see room for improvement. Maybe you do, too.
Here's Part 1 of my "Digital Wish List" (Part 2 will appear next weekend)...
Are remasters really remastered? Do today's remastered recordings really sound better—or are we being tricked into thinking they are? Frankly, I don't know the answer. I know that the word "remastered" has a lot of leeway and probably ranges from a true reworking of the original material to waving the original over the digital one. What I do know is that 80% of the time, I'm not happy with what is claimed to be "remastered." In short, there's no wow factor. Whichever company can come up with the technology that adds true sonic value to recordings will rule the world.
Who played on the download? I'm all for downloads. They're fast to buy and convenient to install. But albums aren't heads of cattle. I buy music because I'm interested in learning something and reading about who made it. I'm not sure why the industry has been so slow to offer liner notes with all downloads. Memo to industry: Hire intern, ask intern to scan original liner notes, convert to digital PDF.
Are samples better than the download? I often check out samples before I invest in a download. In many cases, the samples sound bright and full, but when I download the album itself, the tracks somehow don't match-up. And I'm not sure why. This could be a music industry and retailer trick—the way ad agencies enhance images of products to make them more seductive. Or maybe the source they use for the samples is better than what's pushed through our cable. I have no idea. But if this trickery is truly happening, shame on the industry.
Where's the mp3? If you download from Amazon, as many people do, one of the big frustrations when shopping the site is that CD and download versions often are segregated. Meaning, you can wind up at the CD page and scroll down to see only track listings. But further inspection may show that a download is indeed available—just on another page. Amazon needs to bring its pages up to date and unify CD and downloads on a single entry.
So what's new? I've griped about this before but nothing has been done yet. In short, music buyers have no way of knowing what has just become available as a download. As a result, unless you are looking for something specific, you'd never know an album you're looking for was released yesterday as a download. The solution might be a weekly page listing new entries in specific music categories. Or perhaps a buyer could click to request a weekly email update. Either way, buyers spend when they know about what's on the market. Keeping new product a secret helps no one.
A big thanks to Patrick Jarenwattananon, who writes and edits NPR's invaluable A Blog Supreme. Global readers of JazzWax who are unfamiliar with the NPR blog will find the site smart, insightful and way ahead of the curve when it comes to jazz news, web roundups and fresh perspectives on new artists. A Blog Supreme also has been an ardent supporter of JazzWax's mission to capture the stories of jazz legends and make them available online for free as an educational tool. Patrick was last year's winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's "Best Blog Award" and was a nominee this year. If you're unfamiliar with A Blog Supreme, go here and bookmark it.
Enrico Rava radio.The lyrical Italian jazz trumpeter Enrico Rava [pictured] will be featured this Sunday on Bill Kirchner's hour-long Jazz From the Archives radio show on WBGO-FM. Bill will feature Rava's recordings with a number of partners—including guitarist John Abercrombie, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, trombonist Gianluca Petrella, pianist Stefano Bollani, drummer Paul Motian and others. Tune in from anywhere in the world on your computer at 11 p.m. (EDT) by going here.
Nelson Riddle Orchestra. If you're in New York on Tuesday night, you can dance outdoors to the music of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra as it pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra at Lincoln Center. The event is part of Lincoln Center’s 24th season of Midsummer Night Swing. Tickets are $17 each. For more information, go here.
For sale: Glenn Miller's last concert property. JazzWax reader Phil Andrews in London sent along this fascinating article by Max Davidson in the Telegraph on The Grange. The large home in England's Bedfordshire was the site of Glenn Miller's last Army Air Force Band performance before the trombonist flew to Paris two weeks later in a small plane that disappeared. Go here.
Oddball album cover of the week: We may finally have found the polar opposite of those covers with half-clad models lying on their backs with drinks at their side. As for the target market of this album, one can only assume that the LP was aimed at chess-tournament types, protractor salesmen and lab technicians. Also makes you wonder if this album was part of a series: Music From Granite, Music From Magnets and Music From Condensation. On the cover, the signs for addition, subtraction and multiplication are there. Can you find the sign for division?