Me in 1975
|Please note: All music videos are located on the Videos page.|
Music has always been a big part of my life. I grew up playing many instruments for many years, and when I was in my twenties in the early 1970s
I had developed into a jazz bassist and I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Although I'm not actively performing anymore, music is still one of my
first loves and I can often be seen listening to music with my earbuds in my ears (or wearing my Bluetooth cap). The only instrument I have
now is a piano, which doesn't get as much attention as it deserves (my grown son, Ben, a very talented keyboardist, plays it when he visits). I have broadened my tastes beyond the jazz I loved so much at one
time (see my current songs), but improvisational music will always be my favorite
style, and jazz is the ultimate form of that because there are no boundaries to the influences on jazz musicians.
Listening to music is a very personal pleasure and I put music on my smartphone, because it is always in my pocket and I can listen to music anytime I want with earbuds that I keep in a case that holds my car key. Smartphone music players work very much like the iPod I used for years (most references to my smartphone on this page previously applied to my iPod). As far as sources of digital music, I am not happy with what is provided by those that think they can identify my listening tastes, like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Google Play (they apparently don't really understand what makes certain music appeal to me) and I get my music elsewhere, including previously ripping songs from my own vinyl records. Sometimes I find a song I like on YouTube and I paste the link to it at YouTube mp3 (also a Firefox extension), where it is converted to an MP3 that I put on my phone.
|Studies & quotes...|
A study of the neurological wonders behind playing a musical instrument showed enhancement in multiple brain areas.
(Interesting that my instrument, the bass, is shown in the example.)
"The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain. . . . Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves." — Arthur Schopenhauer
|"Researchers have scanned musicians' brains and found that the 'chills' that they feel when they hear stirring passages of music result from activity in the same parts of the brain stimulated by food and sex." — Drake Bennett, Survival of the harmonious|
We had a piano in our house when I was growing up in Payette, Idaho and I took several years of lessons starting at age 7, and in 6th grade I took up trumpet, playing in the
concert and marching bands. Since I had a lot of drive and practiced diligently I was able to achieve the first chair position, which I held for
three years. When I started high school band (9th grade), there were many older and more experienced trumpet players already there, so with my
desire to always be the leader in the section I switched to French horn, which I played for a year. At the end of my freshman year the lead trombone player graduated from high school,
so with an eye on that position I decided to switch to trombone. My older brother had played trombone before, so we had one at home, and by
practicing a lot during the summer and playing in several outdoor concerts at the bandshell in the park, I got my chops in order and successfully achieved first chair trombone
in the high school band in 10th grade. For reasons I don't remember the last two years of high school I was not in the band, but when I went off
to college in 1966, I did what many of my generation were doing—grew my hair long, took up guitar, and joined a rock band. I was at the University of Idaho (majoring in Mechanical Engineering)
and our band played at campus parties at fraternities and sororities and we once played at the local high school.
(After decades apart, in 2015 I reconnected with the lead guitar player in this band on Facebook, and he still remembered the name of our band, "The Creation.")
At this point in my life I was really into flat-picking on acoustic guitar, emulating the style of Clarence White, who had a bluegrass band with his brother, Roland, named the Kentucky
Colonels, and then he went on to play lead guitar in The Byrds (I saw this band in concert, before his untimely, accidental death in
1973). After hearing Kenny Baker, one of the best
fiddle players around (and even playing with him at a bluegrass festival) I read that he and Clarence were influenced by
Django Reinhardt a great jazz guitarist. I started
listening to Django and violinist Stephane Grappelli (The
Quintette du Hot Club de France).
|Studying music in college|
After several years of playing a variety of improvisational types of music on guitar, I started playing more and more jazz, and I decided that to better understand this complex music I
wanted to study it in college. I was living in Seattle at the time but the school I chose was Berklee College of Music in Boston, one of the
leading jazz schools in the country. I drove cross-country to Boston in 1973 (my 4th cross-country car trip) and when I started at Berklee
I was asked if I would consider switching to upright bass because the school had an abundance of guitar players
and a shortage of bass players. I made the switch, which turned out to be a good choice because acoustic bass players at school were always in
demand. I studied at Berklee for two years under John Neves (he really taught me jazz bass) and John Repucci (very technical lessons, all with a bow).
The recording and touring bass players that I was most inspired by at that time were three bassists with very distinctive styles
Studying music greatly enhances one's appreciation and performing abilities, but it can also put you out of touch with the public's appreciation of music.
This priceless video says so much about the unenlightened views one encounters in life after a musical education.
Read the great comments on YouTube!
|Live jazz in Boston in the 1970s|
While I was at Berklee I went regulary to the local jazz clubs in Boston (sadly many now gone) including
|My perspective on things has frequently leaned towards the cutting-edge so my taste in music ultimately evolved into the avant−garde style that was being performed in the 1970s in the jazz lofts (some photos). This very non-commercial style of music had a serious following among musicians and some fine recordings of it can be found on the Wildflowers series (this 5 record vinyl LP set, which I owned, is now on 3 CDs). When these musicians came to Boston, they usually didn't play in the well known clubs, but they did find that, like New York, Boston had a loft scene, and some of the best music I heard when I was in college was performed in the jazz lofts. In an Atlantic Monthly article, "Jazz − Religious and Circus," Francis Davis writes about how many of us viewed the 1970s as the "Golden Age" of jazz. Alan Douglas, who recorded the Wildflowers sessions, says, "I think the loft jazz period was the last time that significant changes took place in jazz."|
These are my favorite fusion albums that I still listen to all the time (previously on vinyl, now on digital):
|By the end of the 1970s, although my interest in jazz remained very intense, my desire to play music for a living had lessened, so I basically reached the end of that pursuit. Jazz had always evolved and progressed in the 20th-century and I had assumed it would continue on this path, but it seems that it reached its peak around this time. My favorite jazz recordings were all done in the Seventies, as you can see if you go to the My songs page and see my listening choices.|
When my kids (who are now adults) became teenagers I was exposed to musical styles that I might not have discovered on my own, some of which were not even around
when I was younger. My son Alex turned me on to Ska*, and in summer 2000 we
went to a concert by Reel Big Fish, one of the top American Ska groups, and
I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how a lot of Ska bands took previously recorded songs and did them in a Ska style.
"Come On Eileen", a top-40 song by Dexy's Midnight Runners, was redone by the group Save Ferris (that name comes from the great
movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"),
and "Take On Me", a top-40 hit by the Norwegian group a-ha,
was redone by Reel Big Fish.
Both of my sons have been actively involved in music. Alex took piano lessons for several years, and sang in a rock band in high school and college. Ben is also quite accomplished on piano (I love to hear him play when he visits). We have always enjoyed Broadway musicals when they come to Boston. We would buy the CDs of these shows and the boys grew up listening to this music, like Rent and Phantom of the Opera. Now that the boys have graduated from college and started their adult lives I don't get to hear them perform music, but I know it is in their genes to love it as I do.
It may appear that I have abandoned jazz, but I prefer to think that I am just not actively involved at the moment. I enjoy listening to many
styles of music (see My songs) but improvisational music will always be my most respected and enjoyable
style, and jazz is the ultimate form of that because there are no boundaries to the influences on jazz musicians.
Since the early 1980s my creative energy has been consumed by writing computer code and though some might find it hard to believe, I get some of the same creative fulfillment as a programmer I received from being a musician. I have heard that these two interests involve the same parts of the brain (see Programming for more).
(pictures I found online of my actual components)
Most of the music I listened to in those days was on record albums, and since I have always been very particular about what I listened to, if I got tired of an album I typically got rid of it so there would be no chance somebody requesting to hear it again.
I hauled my stereo and all my albums in my car from Seattle to Boston when I came here for school in 1973 (the KLH speakers were actually made in Boston and shipped to Seattle where I bought them, and then I brought them back to Boston). I had this stereo for years, upgrading many times, ultimately replacing the reel-to-reel recorder with a casette recorder and the tube amplifier with a solid-state receiver that had a radio tuner. As music became more digital most of these analog stereo components became discarded. Eventually listening to music became a personal thing and I got a Sony Walkman. I had this for a couple of years before I finally got into digital music with an iPod, which I had for several years until it was replaced by putting music on my Smartphone.
|Like most people of my generation I collected vinyl record albums for years. My albums experienced incredible heat in a house fire in 1982 and were mostly warped beyond playable. Even though I had ultimately converted my music listening to cassette and then digital—for some reason I kept these albums for years and finally decided to get rid of them in 2015. Before trashing them I made a list so I would always know what albums I had owned. Here is that list of record albums. I was surprised that some of my favorite albums were not here when I made this list, so apparently I had purchased them as CDs. Many of the songs on these albums have been ripped to digital MP3s and put on an iPod and now my smartphone. I have heard the vinyl records are making a comeback, and when I left my turntable at the swap area at the "dump" (now a transfer station since the landfill is full) somebody picked it up as soon as I set it down.||
Although decades have passed, some of my greatest musical euphorias were experienced in the mid-1970s, at a time when I was studying music in
college and I think improvisational music reached its peak. One of my favorite groups will always be John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra (videos), and I am still totally amazed at how good they were. As a jazz aficionado I
acquired an extensive collection of recordings by John Coltrane (in 2017 I was wearing a Trane t-shirt and somebody asked me if it was for the
manufacturing company), and I spent many hours listening to Trane and other tenor players who were greatly influenced by him, like
Dewey Redman, and
Listed below are some of the people who have really moved me through the years. The musicians listed by instrument are jazz musicians; non-jazz musicians and groups are listed at the end. Some of the groups may no longer exist and sadly, some of the musicians have passed away (see In Memoriam), but I still want to list them here because they will always rank as some of my favorites. There are also some musicians listed below under 60s music. Photos of many of these artists can be seen at DowntownMusic.net. See videos by many of these artists at Music videos.
I have included a link to each artist's page at
All Music Guide for the discographies, cross-reference links,
and song previews.
(Periodically AMG reorganizes their website and some of these links stop working. I try to correct them when I notice this.)
|I have links to some of the artist's videos on YouTube.|
|(vid)||Click to see artist's video(s) on my Videos page.|
|Singers, groups, and others|
Most of my favorite albums were recorded in the early 1970s, when I was studying jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston. At that time I was thrilled to experience so much really outstanding music,
and the quality is so great I never get tired of listening to it. Though most of these albums are jazz-based, over the years I've listened to and
loved a lot of music that is not jazz, like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Electric Light Orchestra (see My songs for what I listen to now), but improvised music with extended solos will always be my favorite.
All these albums have such musical virtuosity that decades later I still enjoy listening to them immensely—now "ripped" from the
original vinyl recordings to digital and put on my smartphone. Click on the album to go to
its page on Allmusic.com where you can sample the songs.
Now I listen to songs from many of these albums on my smartphone with earbuds.
|Sadly not every artist whose music I love is still with us. R.I.P. these fabulous artists and long live their legacies. Here are some of those who have passed on in my lifetime, many that I had the privilege of seeing perform live. These are primarily musicians but there are some composers and others included. The names are links to Wikipedia. Hover over name for more info.|
|Listening to music
|(Sorry—listenable music has been removed from the website for reasons explained here.)|
I listen to my music on my smartphone in playlists that I
create in iTunes (I also access the music on my phone using Bluetooth on my car radio).
These are smart playlists configured using iTunes columns Genre, or a specific value I put in an unused column called
Grouping. Multiple values in Grouping will put a song on multiple playlists. Please note I use "contains" and "is" (equals) when
validating stored values. Sometimes I just select Songs and put it on random play. I have an Android phone and use iSyncr software to transfer the playlists from iTunes
to my phone.
Here are my playlists and the iTunes settings for each:
|Reference & reviews|
|Streaming audio (see Stream an audio file for more on streaming)|
|I love the freedom ringtones give you to personalize your cellphone, so when someone calls you know it is your phone ringing. You can
even have different ringtones for different callers. Try to use ringtones as unique as possible so you immediately recognize them because you
don't want to think your cell is ringing when someone else's is. There are many websites that allow you to purchase and download ringtones
directly to your phone, but if you want a really unlimited selection you can make your own from any song on your PC and transfer them to your
phone (see below).
Here are some ringtones I made from songs I like (I use Goldwave, a shareware audio editor). They are small segments of the original songs (hopefully this prevents copyright infringement)—some are the intros to the songs and some are instrumental sections I cut and edited—I didn't include any singing because I don't like voices on phone rings. I usually like ringtones that start softly and build so they are not startling when they go off. The ones listed here are typically 15-20 seconds long (saved as 96kbps and mono to decrease size) and they will loop on a cellphone so the end should segue into the beginning.
Click on a song to play it—to copy a song to your computer right click on the title and choose Save Link/Target As.
|There are several ways to put a ringtone from your PC on your cellphone:
|Because I was a teenager in the 1960s, the music of that time played a big part in my life. Like many young people of that era I was in a rock band when I was in college that existed primarily for our own entertainment, although we did play a few gigs at fraternities and sororities on campus. and once at the local high school. (After decades apart, in 2015 I reconnected with the lead guitar player in this band on Facebook.) When I lived in Seattle I went regularly to concerts by the top West Coast groups of the day at the Eagles Auditorium.|
Sky River Rock Festival
In 1968 (the year before Woodstock) I joined 20,000 other "social revolutionaries, hippie communalists, psychedelic evangelists, musicians, and music fans" to attend one of the world's first outdoor rock festivals, a 3-day affair in a pasture near Sultan, WA, a small town Northeast of Seattle. My buddy and I had originally planned on staying for all 3 days, but woke up the first night in our sleeping bags getting wet when it rained, so we went home and commuted every day from our apartments in Seattle. Not every band listed on the poster showed up, but there was still a tremendous amount of great music. The performers who were there included the Grateful Dead, Santana, Youngbloods, Country Joe and the Fish, Big Mama Thornton, James Cotton, Dino Valenti, It's a Beautiful Day,, Sandy Bull, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, John Fahey, Ramblin' Jack Elliot,and New Lost City Ramblers. One thing besides music that I enjoyed was Richard Prior doing a standup comedy routine.
|Multimedia search engines|
|These search engines allow you to search for songs on sites like mine (or like mine used to be). The results typically provide the ability to listen to songs from the sites where they are found. If the link to play the song goes diredtly to the song file, to save a copy of the song put the mouse pointer on the link and press the right mouse button, and from the context menu choose Save Target/Link As. If the link goes to a webpage or player and not directly to the song, you can look in your browser cache after the song has played and you may be able to copy it from there. Sometimes you have to rename it and put an extension (usually .mp3) on it.|
|These MP3 search applications, pioneered by Napster, allow you to find shared files offered by others using software that you install on your PC. They are the best way get your own copies of audio files, although the RIAA is forcing the government to crack down on this process (I had to stop sharing). Also, some are rumored to install spyware (hidden software tracking your web-surfing habits) on your PC, and you can also download viruses, so be cautious. If you do frequent downloads, it is always a good idea to run anti-virus and anti-spyware programs regularly to keep your system clean. Many of these are clients of Gnutella, a large open protocol distributed file-sharing network.|
"The real threat of MP3 music piracy—to listeners and, conceivably, democracy itself—is the music industry's reaction to it." — Charles C. Mann, The Atlantic Monthly
MP3 tips MP3 tools MP3 songs
|RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)|
The above quotation ("The real threat...") is from an article, "The Heavenly Jukebox", that includes a history of the MP3, which is one of the digital formats for music that has become very popular
on the Internet. Because they are ubiquitous and you can download them for free, MP3s have the RIAA all freaked out. In
2001 the RIAA took peer-to-peer file-sharing company Napster to court and put them out of business, and in 2003 they started
going after individual "major offenders", those who offered more than 1,000 songs to others for downloading (eventually this included
me). The RIAA has the rather short-sighted view that being able to download MP3 songs for free will keep
people from purchasing the CDs. MP3s actually provide a great way to sample songs before buying a CD, and people will continue to make purchases
if the music is good. As far as MP3s being a threat to the royalty income the musicians receive from CD sales, according to the previously
mentioned Atlantic Monthly article, if it exists at all this income is miniscule.
This is from the testimony in the trial of a Minnesota woman which resulted in her being fined $222.000 for sharing music. It looks like the RIAA are even bigger idiots than imagined.
One can also be introduced to a new artist via MP3s, especially someone esoteric like Tin Hat Trio, who lacks the heavy marketing of the more commercial artists. I discovered them almost by accident (on a music system in Starbucks no less), yet I still purchased Tin Hat Trio's CDs, even though I knew I could download some of their MP3 music for free. Or suppose you have a song on a CD that you want to share with someone who lives far away from you. You can convert the song from the CD (rip it) to an MP3 file and send it as an email attachment, which may even encourage that person to go out and buy the CD, thereby increasing sales.
I don't know where the MP3 litigation will ultimately end up, but in the meantime MP3s provide some interesting technical
solutions. For instance, when I wanted to put a song I liked on a cassette tape to listen to in my Walkman (the old days), I could only
locate it in the MP3 format (it was also made on 7" vinyl but I couldn't find that). To get my MP3 on tape I had to
burn it to a CD, which I then played on a regular stereo system and recorded it to tape. For mobile music I use my smartphone
now so I still convert many individual songs to MP3s from CDs or vinyl recordings
(see Convert a record or tape) to load them.
As MP3 usage and the software to do things with them gets more common, some of the tips I put here are no longer needed, and I will try to keep this section up−todate. Many of these tips make reference to various software I use (names in green italics). See see MP3 tools for more on these.
YouTube to MP3 Converter
|Top of section|
|These are some of the tools I have used to manipulate MP3s. Some shareware/freeware may contain spyware, so use caution when installing them.
|MP3 songs info & tips above MIDI files below I also have Videos|
|For years I had playable MP3s listed on my website, until I received the following in an email from my web-hosting provider. I have complied to prevent my website from being shut down.|
I have moved my website to another hosting company since receiving that threat, but to play it safe I am still not sharing music here, and it appears I removed these files just in time, because a week later I read this story about a woman who was found guilty of sharing music "illegally" and fined $220,000!
After receiving this email I emailed them back and asked if they could site some of the songs that were identified. Strangely, the ones they listed were songs that I actually ripped from vinyl albums that I owned (making me the legal owner), but most of the songs I shared were not acquired by purchases so I removed them all.
My music has always been one of the big draws to my website, so I am taking away something that people loved, and after awhile the music search engines will no longer show me having these songs, so I know the number of my visitors will decrease. I am still sharing ringtones, which I believe is still safe because they are only snippets of songs. Thank you RIAA, for improving the quality of our lives.
|These MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files are digitized, instrumental versions of the original songs.|