Rabbit Holes

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Thomas Conrad  |  Aug 28, 2023  |  3 comments
Something has happened in jazz culture in the new millennium. There is more emphasis on original composition than ever before. There has been remarkably little discussion and analysis of this phenomenon, perhaps because many assume it is a positive development. Jazz, after all, prioritizes originality.

There is a counterargument. It goes like this: Jazz today is vital and dynamic because great players keep popping up, all over the world. Very few of those great players are also great composers. Yet they apparently feel obliged to be. A large proportion of new jazz albums contain all or mostly originals.

Tom Fine  |  Jul 31, 2023  |  1 comments
Behold the genius of Quincy Delight Jones Jr., well known as Q, still with us at age 90. There isn't enough space to get into all his accomplishments, so I will focus on five favorite albums, which he either headlined or was heavily involved with.
Robert Baird  |  Jun 05, 2023  |  0 comments
FLASH! Record Business Conquers Death! Musicians Live Forever! There is life after death in the world of recorded music. Elvis left the building 46 years ago. Jimi Hendrix has been absent for 53 years. Yet both continue to release albums of unreleased material. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen wisely recorded much of their music throughout their careers, live and in the studio; they'll continue to release "new" music long after they pass.

Keeping fans satisfied but also looking forward is an effective marketing tool, one that Ernst Mikael Jørgensen, the guru of all things Elvis, has mastered. His latest project is the six-CD box set Elvis On Tour, which is connected to the 50th anniversary of Presley's 1972 US tour and the rerelease of the MGM documentary/concert film of the same name, a Blu-ray of which is also included.

Anne E. Johnson  |  Apr 27, 2023  |  18 comments
In 1955, Canadian pianist Glenn Gould surprised executives at Columbia Masterworks by choosing J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations for his debut recording. His performance was fast and fluid and sparkling and delicious, and it was an astonishingly big seller. In 1981, Gould came full circle and recorded the Goldbergs again. It was his last studio recording. That second attempt could not be more different from the first: relentlessly intellectual, percussive, insistent.

Late last year, to honor what would have been Gould's 90th birthday, Sony put out a package with a full-color coffee table book and 10 CDs of unreleased outtakes from the 1981 sessions—The Goldberg Variations: The Complete Unreleased 1981 Studio Sessions—with an 11th disc containing the 1981 album.

Tom Fine  |  Dec 07, 2022  |  4 comments
The year 1965 was turbulent, pivotal, and consequential. LBJ sent soldiers to the Dominican Republic, stepped into Vietnam with both feet, and signed laws expanding voting rights and creating Medicare and Medicaid. Antiwar protests gathered steam, Bob Dylan went electric, the Beatles played Shea Stadium, Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game, and pioneering DJ Alan Freed died.
Tom Fine  |  Jul 05, 2022  |  7 comments
My tastes coalesced around rock music, particularly the harder and faster kind, by the time I was in middle school. Earlier, they were oriented toward pop: The Beatles are my first and forever musical love.