Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random Chance Rants & MP3 Revelations

Random Chance

I love it when stuff is just random...

Hence the title of this blog involving the term "Random Revelations"...

That's what we have today for ya...

seems like so much of what I experience in this modern life seems predetermined. overly affected and set in plastic molds...

But I loves me some "random"...

Tonight I just randomly discovered a record label called Random Chance Inc and their catalog of sonic treats.

They sorta appeared outta nowhere in my radar...I saw my local PBS affiliate was showing the great "Satchmo" documentary so there I was looking up some Louis Armstrong tunes to download. I stumbled upon an interesting looking tribute disc put out by this Random Chance label.
Mental Strain At Dawn Aside from the "Mental Strain at Dawn" disc that has some of the last recordings of Armstrong associate Doc Cheatham on it and tunes by Jack Pervis, Fats Waller etc, the label's done lotsa other stuff as well...

David Murray & Doc Cheatham etc - La Cucaracha (sample)

Really seems like they release an eclectic blend of stuff, a veritable microcosm and melting pot of all that's right and adventuresome that's possible in music these days...

The music they issue ranges from
straight down-the-line harmonica infused Chicago blues, to jazz, hip hop, latin, world music acts and unique variational combinations thereof. I doubt there's much money being raked out of the market, but it's a well oiled labor of love no less.

A perfect example of the label's diversity might be Pyeng Threadgill who has two albums on the label. Long a fixture in New York at venues like The Kitchen, Joe's Pub etc she moved to Berkeley on the west coast a few years ago.

Her most recent CD "Of The Air" features tasteful lightly produced jazzy vocal numbers that flit & flutter with a simple & subdued sense of passion and poetry, often about nocturnal matters.

Pyeng Threadgill - Before Day

Pyeng Threadgill - It's Late

Of The AirWhile the newer album lacks in a strong sense of production trickery, it is an amiable enough effort.

In her first Random Chance effort she takes some dirt encrusted Robert Johnson tunes and polishes them with a laid back moderne jazzy feel that makes 'em shine and glimmer brighter than the platinum platters of Norah Jones.

She'll be doing gigs in Athens, Rome & Paris this spring so all you int'l denizens & globe trotters , check out her schedule at Pyeng.com.

Sweet Home: The Music Of Robert Johnson
From : The Music of Robert Johnson...

Pyeng - "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom"

Pyeng - "They're Red Hot"(mp3)

from "Sweet Home: The Music Of Robert Johnson"
by Pyeng Threadgill

More On This Album

If you liked that check out Angela Ortiz another young female vocalist ( & asparagus enthusiast) raised upstate NY but now out of Brooklyn whose got a CD called "All About You" coming out in March on Random Chance...

01. Everyone Changes (4:16)
02. Dustpan (5:22)
03. Days of Lemonade (3:54)
04. Finish What You Started (4:15)
05. Mr. Thomas (4:32)
06. Steven (2:51)
07. Last of Who You Are (4:45)
08. We Must Be All Right (4:32)
09. Cheshire Cat (3:30)
10. All About You (5:11)
11. Song For Lost Friends (3:30)

On her new CD she uses Ryan Scott on guitar who is also in Pyeng's band. For lyrical inspiration she told the website Musical Discoveries that she uses:
"Old books, and some new ones. Economics magazines and advertising literature. Very plain pictures of very normal-looking people. Court TV."

Angela Ortiz - Days of Lemonade

Angela Ortiz - Everyone Changes There Mind

All About Your CD Cover

Most Random Chance label music seems to be available at Emusic.com, a monthly subscription download service which I highly recommend, and helps make many musical discoveries possible...

This next Random Chance release I'm highlighting features one of the longest running Latin jazz groups in the world paying tribute to the music of Art "Buhaina" Blakey, and The Jazz Messengers...

will appear in my homebase of San Francisco on March 9, 2007 @ The Palace of Fine Arts

Rumba Buhaina

Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band - "Rumba Buhaina" (mp3)
from "Rumba Buhaina"
by Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band

released via
Random Chance, Inc.

More On This Album

On this Random Chance album recorded recorded at Famous Dave's BBQ in Chicago in 1999 you hear a former 1950's roommate of Little Walter and Jimmy Reed, that being Little Arthur Duncan who has a Chicago blues pedigree and a classic juke joint harmonica style.

Live In Chicago!

Download "Duncan Donuts" (mp3)
from "Live In Chicago!"
by Little Arthur Duncan

released via
Random Chance, Inc.

More On This Album

With the nutcases in DC now declaring that since our Iraq campaign is going so well, we of course need to declare war on Iran...

Here's a Random Chance album needs to get heard before that is ever allowed to happen...

Got the Impeach Bush/Cheney Blues

Baba Isreal - "State of Emergency" (mp3)

David Rovics - "The Draft Is Coming" {mp3}

from "Got the Impeach Bush/Cheney Blues"

released by
Random Chance, Inc.

More On This Album

Here's one more sample from a Random Chance releases:

Chet Baker & Charlie Haden - Four

hope ya enjoy all the DRM free mp3 love ya get here...here's a note one of the formats early cheerleaders recently sent to Steve Jobs after his recent blogburst defending I-Tunes and criticizing the RIAA & major label execs...

MP3.com Founder Michael Robertson's Response To Steve Jobs' Call For MP3

Dear Steve,

First let me say that your iTunes/iPod success is unprecedented and awe inspiring to me. Your impact on digital music is astounding. I read your open letter to the music industry and wanted to respond. It's great seeing the #1 DRM vendor in the world acknowledging that DRM is an issue. I've been talking about this since I founded MP3.com so it's nice to finally have someone with your prominence raising awareness on this topic (read You Own Nothing - the highest rated blog post I've ever written).

I want to challenge you to take actions to bolster your words to insure you are genuine and your letter wasn't simply a deflection shield to escape government scrutiny. In your letter you stated that currently "customers are being well served with a continuing stream of innovative products and a wide variety of choices." The incompatible chaos of digital music today is not serving customers or the music industry particularly well. I think you know this too which is why you posted your letter calling for change. I agree with your suggestion that the industry is already selling non-DRM files on CDs so it's not a big leap to selling them online (of course, as you know, non-DRM files are available online from many unlicensed sources so now it's just a question of whether the industry is going to put a price tag and make some money on this behavior). You mentioned that licensing your FairPlay DRM technology is problematic. Microsoft widely licenses its similar DRM technology and it doesn't seem to be any more or less secure than yours, so I'm not sure I agree with you. But instead of focusing on political posturing I want to focus on real solutions that can change the industry.

My vision is that customers should be able to mix and match the type of computer, music software, retail option and music devices they want to use. No single company is the best in every product category so consumer choice ensures the best music experience. Here are some immediate actions Apple could take to help push the industry in that direction.

1) Start selling some content in MP3 format in the iTunes store.

It's my understanding that Apple has a license from certain content providers that allow tracks to be sold in the MP3 format, like the CDBaby catalog. While the major labels might be insisting on DRM files, that isn't the case with many indie labels and other music providers. Making those songs available for purchase in the consumer friendly MP3 format would mean that some songs from the iTunes store would be compatible on every MP3 player. The big criticism of the iTunes store, which has spurned possible government action, is the fact that purchases only play on iPods. By selling MP3s in the iTunes store, files become interoperable with any player. It will be a minority of files, but according to your letter, major labels control only 70% of music distributed. Therefore, if a significant percentage of the remainder are made available in MP3 format, this would have an impact.

2) Publish the database format for iPods so other music software can be used.

Files stored on iPods are done so in a proprietary database structure that Apple does not reveal. The only software that can reliably move files to/from the iPod is iTunes. Thus, iPod owners are forced to use iTunes software exclusively. There are many good media managers available that I'm sure people would like to have work with their iPods. By publishing the database structure for iPods these music managers to interact with iPods. This would not mean licensing the DRM that wraps each music file, so it should not affect security in any way.

3) Open the doors for iTunes software to work seamlessly with other stores.

Today the iTunes software is tied solely to your iTunes store. These two platforms converse over the net with a secret language. It's not complicated, but it's also not public. So iTunes customers are tied only to your store and iPods only work seamlessly with that store. There is a growing list of great online music stores which sell MP3 tracks such as eClassical, Magnatune, Broadjam and Wippit. By revealing the language or API that your store uses, other stores could use that same technology. Meaning, they could sell songs that load directly into iTunes software and from there sync to iPods.

4) Make iTunes software for Linux.

I talked to you a few years ago about making iTunes work on Linux. Apple made the leap to Microsoft Windows by releasing iTunes for that platform. Porting iTunes to Linux would be a relatively easy job and give people more flexibility in their choice of operating system. A Linux company I founded called Linspire would even do the engineering for free if engineering resources were an issue.

I hope you'll consider taking these actions - none of which require approval of the music industry, nor require you to license your Fairplay DRM technology that you see as problematic. All of these actions will demonstrate that you want a world where consumers have options as to where they buy and play their music; not to mention, you'll be putting Apple's leadership where your pen is.

Anyhow... I gotta go...

peruse the archives & keep vigilant

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