Tag Archives: Audio

Namesake guitar… at last

IbanezPMIbanez guitar company first released the Pat Metheny PM200 model in March 2013. At the top of the Ibanez PM line (which also includes PM120 and PM20), the PM200 is a full-hollow body electric guitar featuring a mahogany set-in neck, maple top/back/sides, ebony fretboard, and a single Silent 58 humbucker neck pickup. It has been widely acclaimed for its rich tone, fantastic playability, and exceptional build quality.  After the acoustic Martin D35 (from 1983) and the cut-away nylon Ovation #1863 (from 1991), it was time for us to update.

Here is a quick sample of the PM200 sound through Roland’s 80W CUBE in Tweed mode with a bit of rev and delay; a beautiful arrangement by John McLaughlin of jazz standard My Foolish Heart (by Victor Young): 

Making science (part VII): On the utility of science

In a recent interview for the podcast series of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Ira Mellman of Genentech expressed his views on the utility of science practiced at academic institutions. After an academic career at Rockefeller and Yale University, Mellman joined Genentech in 2007 where he is Vice President of Research Oncology. Mellman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2011. The interview is about current challenges in the field of cancer immunotherapy. But things get a bit more controversial at the end. Scroll the audio featured below to -0:35 and you’ll hear this:

PNAS: “I asked Mellman whether his move from academia to industry has brought him closer to his goal of practicing people-centered science.”

Mellman: “It gives one a deep feeling of satisfaction that you’ve actually done science that’s meaningful to people’s lives – and not just interesting, which is what one normally does in the academic realm.  You can be a terrific success if you are serially interesting, and it doesn’t really matter if you’re particularly useful. Here you really have to be both.”

So there you have it. At academia, it does not matter if you are useful or not.

I have to respectfully disagree with Mellman. First of all, I am yet to find an academic scientist who does not care whether his/her discoveries have an impact on people’s lives. Second, the practical consequences of all research are always of great importance at academic institutions, particularly in biomedicine. Clinical utility of biomedical research is always looming in the guidelines of all research grants. There is no interesting biomedical research –or successful biomedical scientists for that matter— that are not useful. Coming from Yale and Rockefeller, Mellman should know this very well.

But one point of greater philosophical interest is the general concept of “usefulness” in basic research. What does Mellman mean by being useful? Intriguingly, both of the research programmes mentioned as examples of people-centered  science in the interview are rooted in basic discoveries made at academic institutions. Were those original discoveries not useful? Had they never been made, there would not be any “people-centered science” for Mellman. Two good quotes come to mind here as well:

“…the shortest path to medical breakthroughs may not come from a direct attack against a specific disease. Critical medical insights frequently arise from attempts to understand fundamental mechanisms in organisms that are much easier to study than humans”  — Bruce Alberts.

“Translational research is meaningless without something to translate.” “The idea that tens of thousands of scientists are sitting on secret knowledge that could be applied today, if only they were provided with the simple tools and incentives that are needed to create a start-up company, is simply absurd” — Howy Jacobs.

The utility of basic discoveries is difficult to predict and Mellman has got himself into slippery territory here. Sadly, more than a serious statement about utility in science, Mellman would simply seem to be justifying himself in front of his academic peers.

UPDATE August 17 2013: Must-read Editorials by Huda Zoghbi and Marc Kirschner in Science magazine on this topic.

Pablo Marquez: Musica del Delphin (Luys de Narvaez 1580)

Ok, this not jazz, as it was written several centuries before jazz was invented, but it is a truly amazing recording nevertheless. Masterly interpretation of Luys de Narvaez “Seis libros del Delphín” by Argentine guitarist Pablo Marquez for the ECM label. Marquez got to choose 17 of the more than 40 pieces included in the “Seys libros” compendium. Originally published in 1538, the pices were composed for the vihuela, a predecessor of the modern guitar.Here Marquez skillfully demonstrates how rewarding these pieces can be even in a modern instrument. This impecable performance preserves the intimate, introspective character of the pieces. Timeless, beautiful music of a mystical nature. Pablo Marquez was born in the northwest of Argentina in 1967. He has played with bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, cellist Anja Lechner, the Rosamunde Quartett and the Ensemble Alma Viva.

Audio files of two favorites, Diferencias sobre Conde Claros (libro VI, 1) and Segundo tono (libro I, 2) appear below.

Wonderful, unreleased recording from Jan Garbarek’s “Photo with…” Quintet live in Kiel, Germany, 1979

The web would sometimes seem to be infinite. Looking for something else, I recently stumbled upon the You Are What You Hear blog site. Dedicated to unreleased live jazz recordings, it contains thousands of mp3 files with previously unheard-of jewels from all corners of the jazz musical spectrum. Remarkably, the last entry in the site was made two years ago. But everything is still there: a time capsule carrying a treasure trove of music, floating in cyberspace.

The catalogue is endless, and one should make sure to download everything indispensable as soon as possible. To me, that includes this incredible recording from Norweigian saxophonist Jan Garbarek live in Kiel, Germany, the 10th of July, 1979, with his quintet from the iconic “Photo With…” ECM album featuring Bill Connors in guitar, John Taylor in piano, Eberhard Weber in bass and Jon Christensen in drums. The concert contains no less than 10 tracks and 2 hs 20 min of uninterrupted joy, all there at the YAWYH site. As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, here we have two tracks from this amazing concert. “Blue Sky”, the first track of the “Photo With…” album (15:32 min) followed by “Melting” (21:38 min), the first track of Bill Connors’ “Of Mist and Melting” ECM recording from 1977. (Also available from the Audio files sidebar.) Truly incredible stuff.

UPDATE 2011-11-25: The YAWYH site has been taken down.

John Hollenbeck – Eternal Interlude

The Jazz Session featured drummer and composer John Hollenbeck in a recent podcast. I was really struck by his music so I got his “Eternal Interlude” CD. It is a work for a large ensemble, too long crew to list here but available from Hollenbeck’s website. The CD is sonically poweful with incredible textures, beautiful lines and cadenzas. One of the many hidden jewels that I discover through Jason Crane and his terrific podcast.

Featured here is the 19:21 minute long title track. An amazing piece.

Paolo Fresu @ Jazz Baltica 2007

P_FresuHere are two unreleased live recordings from trumpet player Paolo Fresu. D’Estate was recorded on July 1, 2007 during the Jazz Baltica Festival at Salzau, Germany, with Fresu in trumpet and Don Friedman in piano.

La Sicilia is a composition by pianist Steffano Bollani who appeared along with Fresu and Paolo Russo in bandoneon at Club Nefertiti, Gothenburg, Sweden, on December 12, 2007.

I was blown away by this trio when I saw them on the previous day at Jazzklubb Fasching in Stockholm. Both recordings come from the Swedish radio. The image (taken with the EF 70-200 L II lens on the EOS 7D) comes from Fresu’s concert along Ralp Towner at the ECM 40 Years Festival anniversary in Mannheim 2010.

Bobo Stenson with Oriental Wind & Karnataka College of Percussion

Bobo_StensonIn December 2008, the Swedish Radio showed up at the home of Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson to record an interview and a series of solo piano improvisations at Stenson’s private studio. In the absence of available solo recordings of the acclaimed pianist, this was a very special event. The interview covered several aspects of Stenson’s musical life. Inevitably, he was asked about Keith Jarrett, and the Swedish pianist took distance -without being overt critical- from his colleague’s use (or abuse?) of ostinato techniques. Featured here, from the over 70 minutes piano recording, is the beautiful “Alfonsina y El Mar” from Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez -now a standard piece of the Stensonian repertoire.

On April 16, 2009, Bobo Stenson played at Jazzclub Fasching, Stockholm, alongside Christian Spering in bass, Lennart Öberg in tenor saxophone and Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz (a group otherwise known as Oriental Wind) in a tandem concert with the Karnataka College of Percussion (KCP) from Bangalore, India. The KCP has a long tradition of interaction with musicians from the European jazz scene and Oriental Wind in particular. For this concert, founders Ramamani (voice) and husband Mr. Mani in mridangam were seconded by their common son -Krthik- in ghattam. The concert included several of Temiz compositions for Oriental Wind alongside KCP as well as traditional KCP’s percussion and solo voice sections. In the theme featured here, Stenon’s intro leads to the group theme with Ramamani’s leading voice, followed by piano and percussion solos in an interesting Orient/Occident mix.

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Featured photographs from the 2009 Fasching concert (Canon EOS 40D with 100mm 2.8 macro and 24-205mm L zoom). Additional photographs from this concert can be accessed from the link under the photo gallery on the right side bar.