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Lee Zimmerman The Montreal Jazz Festival takes flight in its 40th year

Music and Montreal make a superb mix. That’s become increasingly evident over the past 40 years of Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, a literal labor of love that has grown over the decades to become one of the world’s most prestigious festivals regardless of genre or style. Here is an overview of Goldmine’s experience at this year’s festival.

The post The Montreal Jazz Festival takes flight in its 40th year appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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NeahkahnieGold New Features Make It Easy to Add To And Sell From Your Collection

The music we collect is a part of who we are. It’s a physical manifestation of the music we love and a way to keep tabs on the evolution of our listening habits.

A few years back, Discogs released a feature that allows music collectors to catalog their personal collections. If you’re not using the Discogs Collection feature, you should be. It’s free and has numerous benefits. You can:

I’m just skimming the surface here, but hopefully you get the gist. The Collection feature is an invaluable tool for anyone who loves physical music.

Today, we’re pleased to announce two new features to the Discogs Collection:

  • List to sell from Collection
  • Add to Collection after purchase

Mark For Sale

Gone are the days of finding the release page of the record you have to list it for sale. As long as you have a record in your Collection, you can quickly list it on the Discogs Marketplace

 
There’s an added bonus for those of you that keep your Collection meticulously annotated. If you have the condition of your copy listed in your Collection, it will carry over to the sales listing.

Add To Collection After Purchase

If you’re like us, one of the first things you do after dropping the needle on the record the postman just dropped off is adding it to your Collection. Back in the day, you’d have to scour all of Discogs to locate the specific record you purchased and add it from that release page. Well, those days are officially over. You can now add Discogs purchases to your Collection with just a couple of clicks.

 
Adding items from the Purchases tab will transfer the condition of the item as listed by the seller as well. So as long as the record was shipped properly and there were no postal mishaps, this should be a time saver as well.

Can you believe there was a time when this feature didn’t exist? We can’t either. Adding to Collection from Discogs purchases is now a breeze – especially when you consider the time saved when adding multiple items from one page. If you’re forgetful like us, we can even remind you with an email or private message a few weeks after the item is marked shipped. Try it out on your own here.

These additions to the Collection tool should make your life easier. Whether you want to add to or sell from your Collection, there are now fewer steps involved. Let us know your thoughts below and happy collecting!

The post New Features Make It Easy to Add To And Sell From Your Collection appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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Mark Kimber Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Steely Dan ‘Aja’

Released in 1977, the year that both the lighting force of punk and the carefree abandon of disco were enjoying cultural hegemony, Steely Dan’s Aja found itself strangely out of time and place; an irregular jigsaw piece in an often polemic commercial puzzle. It was around this time that predominantly white rock fans where denouncing the perceived superficiality of repetitive black dance music. But Steely Dan had also been the subject of their ire. As Michael Duffy’s review in The Rolling Stone noted: “Aja will continue to fuel the argument by rock purists that Steely Dan’s music is soulless, and by its calculated nature antithetical to what rock should be.” Far from immune to this criticism, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen reportedly remixed the album around 13 times in the months prior to its release


Read: Classic Album Sundays at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019

Listening to Aja, It’s hard not to see the album’s musical complexity and shimmering clarity as a riposte to the conservative rock sensibility. Becker and Fagen’s deeply intuitive use of chord changes is central to the record’s shape-shifting character, as the pair eschew pleasantly resolved sequences and modulate to entirely new keys between sections. This imbues the album’s songs with a certain uneasiness which rubs against the polished surface of its smooth instrumentation and production – even music theory experts were left puzzled as to the direction a chord sequence was taking or why a specific harmony so strangely worked.

Having cultivated a reputation as stubborn yet masterful songwriters, Steely Dan possessed a certain magnetism which helped hugely when it came to assembling a dream-team of jazz, r&b and rock virtuosos for their masterpiece Included on this list was legendary saxophonist and Miles Davis alumni Wayne Shorter (who rips through a solo on the album’s title track), drummer Bernard Perdie (responsible for the groove of “Home At Last”) and Steve Gadd, amongst many others. Far from assured by the proven talents of these musicians however, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen took their infamous hairsplitting scrutiny to new and extreme levels, famously sifting through dozens of separate recordings of the same guitar solo for “Peg”, before landing on Jay Graydon’s pitch-perfect performance.


Read: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Brian Eno ‘Another Green World’

Rhythmically the pair had also dove deeper into the locked grooves of American r&b and soul. Their hiring of musicians who had worked with the likes of James Brown, Quincy Jones and Aretha Franklin provide some insight into their desires to maintain pop music’s infectious percussive drive. It was in-fact the most rhythmically focused songs, such as “Peg”, “Josie” and “I Got The News”, which proved most time-consuming in the recording process, as Becker and Fagen, of course, pursued the perfect backbeat, and the perfect sound, with an almost maniacal attention to detail.

Despite the numerous advances in recording technology of the last forty years, Aja still stands as one of the finest commercial recordings ever made – a holy grail for audiophile’s around the world. Its inherent smoothness coupled with its remarkable intricacy transcends the boundaries of taste and trends, shining as an example of uncompromising creative ambition, which nevertheless remains thoroughly grounded in the principles of pleasure. Aja is truly Steely Dan’s monument to the joy of listening.

Owen Jones


Warm yourself up for Steely Dan’s incredible Aja with our special mini-playlist below.


 

The post Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Steely Dan ‘Aja’ appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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Music Freelance A guide to Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 9

Rating: 
0

 

The finale to Vaughan Williams’s life returns at times to the pastoral, but in darker, dramatic moments, reflects the trauma of his wartime experiences. 

 

Composed: 1956-7
Premiere: 2 April, 1958, Royal Festival Hall, London, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent

Vaughan Williams was 83 when he began the Ninth, which shows the composer to have been still at the height of his powers. He was also working on the cantata Epithalamion, he later wrote the Ten Blake Songs and began a three-act opera, Thomas the Rhymer. In another 1957 work, Variations for Brass Band, he was much taken with the flugelhorn, which he included in the score of the symphony together with three saxophones. He described it as a ‘beautiful and neglected instrument not usually allowed in the select circles of the orchestra, and banished to the brass band, where it is allowed to indulge in the bad habit of vibrato to its heart’s content. While in the orchestra it will be obliged to sit up and play straight’. The saxophones and flugelhorn impart a special dark tone-colour to the score. 

 

 

Influences

Another contributory factor, as it had been in the Eighth Symphony, was Bach's St Matthew Passion, which he conducted every year at the Leith Hill Music Festival in Dorking. The principal subject of the first movement, first heard on trombones and tuba, occurred to him after playing some of the organ part of the opening of the Passion.

Another important starting point for the Ninth was the idea of a symphony about Salisbury and Hardy’s Wessex, particularly the association with Tess of the D’Urbervilles and her arrest at Stonehenge for murdering her seducer. Although this programme was abandoned, it did not disappear entirely.

The second movement in particular is the Stonehenge scene. But Vaughan Williams moved away from a literal depiction of Hardy’s idea of the gods killing Tess for sport to a wider consideration of sacrifice generally. His experiences in WWI seemed again to be haunting him. He had seen another world war since then, and the near-hopelessness of the human condition must have troubled such a sensitive artist, whose humanity is the focal point of his work.

 

 

The Ninth's Style 

Vaughan Williams was not a believer in a religious sense, but he believed in the human spirit. The mood of the Ninth Symphony is ambiguous and enigmatic. It is on an ample scale, it looks back and it looks forward. One of its themes is derived from an early and abandoned tone poem and it also occurs as the ‘limitless heaving breast’ of A Sea Symphony. Clearly it had some special significance for him. The work contains wistful pastoral episodes, but there is savagery too, and a darkness that has been interpreted as pessimism.

It seems more likely that Vaughan Williams feared the worst for mankind but hoped against hope for the best. He loved Arnold’s poem Thyrsis and could easily have prefaced this finale with the words: ‘The light we sought is shining still’ – dimly, perhaps. When the Ninth was first performed, many failed to recognise it as one of his deepest and finest works. After 50 years, that has changed.

 

Reception and Death 

On August 25, 1958, during the night before he was to attend Sir Adrian Boult’s recording sessions of the Ninth, Ralph Vaughan Williams died suddenly and peacefully from a coronary thrombosis. His ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey near to Purcell and Stanford. 

Symphony No. 9, dedicated to the Royal Philharmonic Society and arguably the hardest of the symphonies, was first played through on 21 March, 1958, after which Vaughan Williams cut and revised the finale. Asked for his reaction to the cool critical reception, he replied: ‘I don’t think they can quite forgive me for still being able to do it at my age.’

 

Recommended Recording:
Leopold Stokowski & His Symphony Orchestra
Cala CACD 0539

 

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Mark Kimber Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Steely Dan ‘Aja’

Released in 1977, the year that both the lighting force of punk and the carefree abandon of disco were enjoying cultural hegemony, Steely Dan’s Aja found itself strangely out of time and place; an irregular jigsaw piece in an often polemic commercial puzzle. It was around this time that predominantly white rock fans where denouncing the perceived superficiality of repetitive black dance music. But Steely Dan had also been the subject of their ire. As Michael Duffy’s review in The Rolling Stone noted: “Aja will continue to fuel the argument by rock purists that Steely Dan’s music is soulless, and by its calculated nature antithetical to what rock should be.” Far from immune to this criticism, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen reportedly remixed the album around 13 times in the months prior to its release


Read: Classic Album Sundays at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019

Listening to Aja, It’s hard not to see the album’s musical complexity and shimmering clarity as a riposte to the conservative rock sensibility. Becker and Fagen’s deeply intuitive use of chord changes is central to the record’s shape-shifting character, as the pair eschew pleasantly resolved sequences and modulate to entirely new keys between sections. This imbues the album’s songs with a certain uneasiness which rubs against the polished surface of its smooth instrumentation and production – even music theory experts were left puzzled as to the direction a chord sequence was taking or why a specific harmony so strangely worked.

Having cultivated a reputation as stubborn yet masterful songwriters, Steely Dan possessed a certain magnetism which helped hugely when it came to assembling a dream-team of jazz, r&b and rock virtuosos for their masterpiece Included on this list was legendary saxophonist and Miles Davis alumni Wayne Shorter (who rips through a solo on the album’s title track), drummer Bernard Perdie (responsible for the groove of “Home At Last”) and Steve Gadd, amongst many others. Far from assured by the proven talents of these musicians however, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen took their infamous hairsplitting scrutiny to new and extreme levels, famously sifting through dozens of separate recordings of the same guitar solo for “Peg”, before landing on Jay Graydon’s pitch-perfect performance.


Read: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Brian Eno ‘Another Green World’

Rhythmically the pair had also dove deeper into the locked grooves of American r&b and soul. Their hiring of musicians who had worked with the likes of James Brown, Quincy Jones and Aretha Franklin provide some insight into their desires to maintain pop music’s infectious percussive drive. It was in-fact the most rhythmically focused songs, such as “Peg”, “Josie” and “I Got The News”, which proved most time-consuming in the recording process, as Becker and Fagen, of course, pursued the perfect backbeat, and the perfect sound, with an almost maniacal attention to detail.

Despite the numerous advances in recording technology of the last forty years, Aja still stands as one of the finest commercial recordings ever made – a holy grail for audiophile’s around the world. Its inherent smoothness coupled with its remarkable intricacy transcends the boundaries of taste and trends, shining as an example of uncompromising creative ambition, which nevertheless remains thoroughly grounded in the principles of pleasure. Aja is truly Steely Dan’s monument to the joy of listening.

Owen Jones


Warm yourself up for Steely Dan’s incredible Aja with our special mini-playlist below.


 

The post Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019: Steely Dan ‘Aja’ appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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Goldmine1 New Goldmine Giveaway in touch with the ’80s!

Win two new CDs from Deko Music, and read the related interviews with former Enuff Z’Nuff vocalist Donnie Vie and Mark Mangold of American Tears, which evolved from the ‘80s band Touch.

The post New Goldmine Giveaway in touch with the ’80s! appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Goldmine1 10 Albums That Changed My Life: Chuck Negron

Singer Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, give the 10 Albums That Changed His Life.

The post 10 Albums That Changed My Life: Chuck Negron appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Discogs Staff The Big, Friendly Sound Of Audio-Technica’s M50xBT

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By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

Headphones make me nervous. Whenever I wear an over-the-ear model in public, I feel like I’m being followed by a parade of murderous freaks and rabid bears, all of them just waiting until “Running On Empty” ends so they can cut me in half.

But maybe that’s just me, because headphones are obviously wildly popular, and few more so than the Audio-Technica ATH-M50, of which AT has sold nearly 2 million pair. The ATH-M50xBT, under review here, is the latest iteration of the M50 line and by popular demand does away with wires altogether (if you so choose).

The ATH-M50 was a standard studio quality professional headphone. The ATH-M50x added the ability to switch out cables for use with smartphones and laptops in addition to headphone amps. The BT in ATH-M50xBT stands for Bluetooth and Bluetooth is freedom, albeit with some compromises.

Overall, the ATH-M50xBT offers sound quality that’s both accurate and forgiving. It’s a big, friendly sound with ample bass and plenty of treble energy, and they don’t err in favor of either tonal extreme. The sound quality does, however, change depending on how they’re used.

The headphones connected to my iPhone flawlessly via Bluetooth and I never had to reintroduce them — as far as ease of connectivity, these things are a dream. They did require my phone to be in close proximity at all times, however; if you leave the room without your phone the music stops, which can be a real problem when you’re in the middle of “High Voltage.” They also hold a charge for a very long time, maybe not as much as the claimed 40 hours but AC/DC tends to drain a battery.

In the real world, distance from your phone is a non-issue as the ATH-M50xBT are meant to be used on your daily commute, in airports, and while the best years of your life are being sacrificed to data entry. In other words, your phone is always going to be by your side. I didn’t have to endure the data entry test but the connection never wavered for me, whether my phone was sitting on a nearby table, stuffed in a messenger bag or tucked into my pocket.

ATH-M50xBT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

I listened via Bluetooth for hours before trying the provided 1/8-inch cable and all was fine. The orchestrated chaos of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “Volunteered Slavery” was unraveled nicely, for example, as was the aforementioned Jackson Browne.

But when I used the cable with a MacBook Pro there was a definite step up in clarity and quality. A slight graininess disappeared and everything just sounded a bit more effortless. This was most evident on one of my go-to albums for both music and sound quality: “Ella and Louis,” a 1956 recording by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong that shames 98-percent of modern recordings.

Using the cheap, simple cable, Ella’s voice regained its purity and Armstrong’s trumpet was strident, as it should be, but not piercing. The difference between wired and Bluetooth was less noticeable on FKA Twigs’ “Pendulum,” but there was a heightened sense of immersion using the cable — I fell into the song rather than simply heard it.

This was most likely due to the quality of the Macbook’s digital-to-analog converter, because using the cable with an iPhone didn’t produce the same results. That bodes well for the ATH-M50xBT’s ability to keep pace with various equipment upgrades, and when listening to these in a crowded airport are you really going to notice the fifth layer of vocals FKA adds to any given song? Probably not.

As far as looks go, the ATH-M50xBT is defiantly old school. It’s a pair of black cans, man, and that’s fine. The thick padding and the size of the cups were ideal for me — at no point did my ears get sore, although they did get hot — and that’s a marked contrast to some other torture-chamber ‘phones I’ve owned.

At $200, the ATH-M50xBT will require some budgeting for a lot of people, although its street price is usually around $170. That’s still a lot of money for a lot of people, but I’d rather listen to these than my $40 pair of wired Monoprice headphones, which make every recording sound exactly the same: bass heavy, dark and stiff.

The ATH-M50xBT sound like music.

This article was produced in partnership with Audio Technica.

The post The Big, Friendly Sound Of Audio-Technica’s M50xBT appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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Tomaga & Pierre Bastien share the title track from their debut LP

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