The Music I Can’t Stop Listening Too Lately

So I’m becoming more and more of a music omnivore. There are very few genres of music I don’t like, and in fact my music collection probably has at least one representative of most any well known genre. They only major exception I can think of off the top of my head are Boy/Girl Group Pop Genres where how pretty the singer(s) are and how well they dance are often as or more important than the actual music. No. Sorry – this is not, has never been, and probably will never be my thing.

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Jazz Collection Update

I’ve written previously about my growing interest in and enjoyment of jazz here and here. Since then I’ve added quite a bit to the collection picking up some new albums for musicians I already had, like Art Blakey and Charles Mingus and adding many new jazz artists and groups to the collection. Some of these have become favorites of mine. Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is nothing short of incredible, a true work of genius. Clifford Brown is great and his work with Art Blakey (possibly my favorite jazz musician) on A Night At Birdland Vol. 1 & 2 is really enjoyable. Pharoah Sanders’ Elevation gets a lot of plays as does Bobby Hutcherson’s Dialogue.

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Covers and Shared Worlds

Prepare for my thoughts! And a ridiculous amount of links!

I love covers. Not book covers, though there are plenty of nice examples of those out there, but covers of songs. Just love them. Discovering a new take on a song I like, or even one I hadn’t before, just puts a smile on my face.

I also enjoy living in the future. Thanks to YouTube and streaming music services I can now go on quests to find covers I’d never heard before. Do you have any idea how many versions of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” there are? I have to be careful though, because I can turn such quests into tools of procrastination like no other.

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Reading and Writing: A Couple Challenges for 2013

A few weeks ago I took on two new challenges that will run the span of 2013. The first was a writing challenge and the second was a reading one.

The writing challenge came from the fantastic musician John Anealio. Well, to be specific this isn’t a writing challenge, its a challenge to be creative. He’s calling it “23 in ’13” and, as you might guess, it’s all about doing 23 creative things over the course of the year. His goal is to create 23 new songs this year. My goal is to create 23 new short stories that I consider good enough in quality to submit to editors. I’m a little behind myself but I’ve got one new story out in the slush piles (it’s already gained it’s first rejection) and one new installment of Empire and Animal.

You can join in the fun over at John’s blog. I recommend getting on his mailing list. You can also download the three instrumental pieces he’s made for the challenge so far or pick up his album “Laser Zombie Robot Love” which is really good.

The reading challenge comes from Worlds Without End. They are having a Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge. The goal is to read 12 books this year each by a different woman author that you have never read before. If you sign up they’ve got a great tracking page set up for the challenge and a huge list of authors to explore. Full participationi also includes writing at least a small review for each book you read but it gives you a chance to be featured on their blog. If that happens you also get put into a poll for a chance to win Amazon gift cards! I highly recommend joining in this.

I’ve read my first book for the challenge, Lauren Beukes amazing “Zoo City”, and I’ll be posting my review in the next day or two. I’ve started my second book, Kelly Link’s “Stranger Things Happen”. After that it’ll be Octavia E. Butler’s “Wild Seed”. After that? Who knows. Something awesome I’d bet.

Any of you participating in these challenges? Know of another great one? Got your own? Shout it out in the comments!

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The New Additions to My Jazz Collection

A little while back I wrote this post about how jazz has started to become a big part of my music listening. A kind commenter, Ed, dropped by and provided a list of musicians he thought I should check out to expand my listening. Well I haven’t checked them all out, but I have expanded my collection a little thanks to his suggestions. I’ve also picked up a few albums of some artists I already had albums of. Here is the complete list of new additions:

  • Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Ugetsu
  • Horace Silver: Horace Silver & The Jazz Messengers
  • Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges: Side by Side
  • Coleman Hawkins: Centennial Collection
  • Charlie Haden with Liberation Music Orchestra: The Montreal Tapes
  • The Ornette Coleman Quartet: This is Our Music
  • Pat Metheny & Ornette Coleman: Song X: Twentieth Anniersary

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On Learning to Love Jazz and Wanting to Love it More

One of the more interesting, for me anyway, side effects of my recent commitment to writing is my new-found love of Jazz.

I had a short-lived flirtation with Jazz back in my high school days. I was a member of my school’s concert band (don’t laugh – it got me to Vancouver, New York and Paris) and several of my friends were a part of that and the school’s much smaller jazz style band. I remember that our teachers pointed us to a jazz concert series that would be taking place at the local University one year and a couple friends and I were the only ones I knew who decided to take advantage of it. I really enjoyed the music I heard going to those shows but I didn’t really stick with Jazz any further than that. At the time exploring music wasn’t quite so easy or cheap as it is now.

Fast forward to a few months ago and I decided that I wanted some music I could listen to while writing. The problem I quickly found was that I can’t write when I’m listening to music with lyrics. Other people’s words coming in my ears when I’m trying to get my own words out of my head just doesn’t work well. There are some modern albums with vocals, such as Bon Iver’s Bon Iver or Radiohead’s Kid A that I can listen to when writing. On albums like those the lyrics are just another part of the overall sound and easy to block out. There are also some classic rock albums, such as Quicksilver Messenger Service’s Happy Trails that are pretty much just instrumental pieces, but I’m going to leave off with the non-jazz albums there. That can be a post for another day.

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