Yes, We Hear You: Great Accessible Jazz

Recently, I had the pleasure of mastering some nice straight-ahead jazz by the V-Tones, featuring Vic Estrada and J. (Juan) Vega. The resulting six-song EP, entitled “Yes, I Hear You”, will satisfy anyone who likes slow to medium tempo swing and laid back Latin rhythms, catchy melodies and well-chosen harmonies.

Having played and taught jazz for decades, Juan has a kean ear for nice melodies and traditional composition. Don’t worry; no atonality or rhythmic gymnastics here, just strong compositions that you may find infectious!

the Mastering

Juan was looking for a sound reminiscent of later Rudy Van Gelder recordings. With that in mind, I brightened things up quite a bit, taming the low end on most tracks, in an attempt to give things that forward presentation RVG is known for. Often, a simple Baxandall EQ was all that was needed, although the “air band” on Maag’s 4EQ plug-in added some extra shimmer without things becoming harsh. Cytomic Software’s “The Glue” added a dB or two of compression, while Slate Digital’s excelent Virtual Tape Machines and Virtual Console Collection plug-ins added much needed simulated analog goodness.
Personally, I would have gone all the way trying to recreate the sound of those classic albums, by releasing this in mono. But, today’s listeners expect stereo, and the nice wide keyboard sounds on some tracks do benefit from remaining in stereo. Overall, it was a joy to work on such well-written material, and I hope the V-Tones continue to write and record original tunes!


The CD costs $10 within the continental US, and that includes shipping. Send an e-mail to JVegaTrio AT aol dot com for information, or remit via PayPal to the same e-mail address.

The Website includes audio samples, but you can hear some of their music here as well.

sample 1
sample 2


“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,”–William Congreve

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. – Maya Angelou

“Music is what feelings sound like.” – Author Unknown


Guitars for Vets, Inc. (G4V) is a federally registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and music instruction. Through self-expression and the healing power of music, it is their intent to restore the feelings of joy and purpose that can be lost after suffering trauma.


It costs $200 to deliver the Guitars for Vets program to one veteran. Monetary contributions are tax deductible. Please see the Donation Page at the Guitars 4 Vets Website to make a secure donation through Pay Pal. Checks may be sent to the Guitars for Vets headquarters as well.


Guitars for Vets accepts guitars, playable or not. Donated guitars are either used as practice guitars or sold in order to raise funds for the program. Unrepairable guitars are turned into visual art through the G4V’s Art Strings program and sold at events. Guitar donations are tax deductible. Please see the Donation Page for details on how to donate guitars.


Simply visit the Guitars 4 Vets Website.

“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Music’s the medicine of the mind.” – John A. Logan

“He who sings scares away his woes.” – Cervantes


From AFM:

“It’s been enormously heartening to see the thousands of musicians and fans, calling on Amanda Palmer to pay ALL the musicians on her tour. And it’s a huge pleasure to see that she’s listened to the community, and now reversed her position. Everyone will be paid. Thank you Amanda!”


From The Trichordist

“We’ve already posted how pleased we are that Amanda Palmer is a class act and did the right thing by recognizing her error in not wanting to pay her local pick-up musicians. The part of this story that really excites us however is that the creative community came together to effect positive change. This story was very simply about artists expressing sadness and anger at the continued exploitation of their labor.”

“The most important take away here is that many artists added their voices to this discussion for fair compensation, even if they were not directly effected. It’s time for more artists and creators to learn from this experience and support each other as a community. As we posted last week, many artists are being affected by an attempt from internet corporations to weasel out of paying royalties to artists on sites like Pandora.”


Free Music: It’s Not Enough to Win Fans Anymore…

This is a situation that seems to be getting worse, not better. Because even the artists that are resigned to giving away their music for free are finding that it’s still not enough to hook new fans. The modern-day media consumer is just too distracted, too overloaded, and too oversaturated to engage.



by Dave Liebman:


Hello to all and hope you are well. I am sending this to musicians and teachers alike.

I have been working on this document for quite awhile and hope it might be helpful to you and your colleagues. The problem I am alluding to has to be on all of our minds.
Hope you enjoy and it stimulates some thoughts.




Question: What values does a jazz education offer beyond the music itself?

Artists have always had a supply and demand problem. Since time immemorial there have been more people with creative ideas than an audience to communicate them to, especially if the art demands more than a cursory attention span. In the current world of jazz education, the situation vis a vis graduating more and more of the most equipped musicians in history (every year more so) in stark contrast to the scarcity of paid performance and recording opportunities has assumed epic disproportion. To deny this would be like ignoring global warming. Serious educators are and should be concerned. Discussions on the subject are sometimes uncomfortable, but are nonetheless taking place worldwide. Notwithstanding that this situation might differ in degree from country to country or even regionally (all trends have their own natural ebb and flow), it is incumbent that responsible educators address this issue.

The standard response has traditionally been that it is not our responsibility to be concerned with the vocational aspects of an arts education. Our job is the transmission of knowledge, peripherally, if at all, addressing matters concerning the ramifications of making a living pursuing one’s art in the “real” world. This viewpoint does not hold up under scrutiny and is at the minimum a matter of principle and ethics, let alone economics if one considers the rising cost of a college education worldwide and the financial debt that a young person will be straddled with from the onset of their “real” life. Obviously, the situation in America vis a vis the cost of a college education is the most glaring and outrageous example of this part of the problem. Responsible educators should have something to offer these young men and women beyond cliches that is relevant and specific, at the least enumerating proven attributes of a jazz education that go beyond the music itself and will enrich their lives. Yes, Coltrane (and other artists) offer a high aesthetic and spiritual plane, but what about the here and now?

I think it is safe to assume that most students (and their teachers) would in a perfect world, choose to play and communicate their art while maintaining a steady financial basis. When I address my master’s degree students at the Manhattan School of Music the first day of class I ask them point blank if they could have it their way, how many would rather contemplate questions of harmony, rhythm, etc., instead of having to deal with making a living, the most obvious route being teaching. The obvious response is unanimously 100% towards playing. This is after all what most of us dreamed of when we became enamored of jazz way before thoughts of a formal education surfaced. It’s possible that on a case by case basis a certain measure of success may somehow occur to a gifted, deserving and fortunate individual. But for the majority of young aspiring students looking towards the future this scenario may not happen for reasons that are well documented (end of record business, venues closing, arts funding down, etc.)

What values and/or skills have our students learned through the study of music, of jazz specifically, that will be of use in the world and life they will most likely encounter? I have enumerated what I consider these core values to be using my personal concepts, all of which can easily be described in multiple ways.


Jazz skill(learned): Spontaneous improvisation.

Life skill(transferred): The level of personal honesty that an individual brings to a playing situation is a given since there is nowhere to hide when improvising in the jazz tradition. Who you are and what you represent go beyond the here and now touching upon deep philosophical and spiritual aspects of being alive.
Key concept: Honesty

Jazz skill: Soloing.

Life skill: Having the ability and attitude necessary to assume leadership, meaning to take charge when and if required; also to hand over leadership unconditionally when the situation calls for it.
Key concept: Leadership and follower abilities

Jazz skill: Soloing as a “multitasking” activity.

Life skill: Dealing with a lot of information quickly; ability to integrate and synthesize information in a creative fashion.
Key concept: Clarity of thought

Jazz skill: Learning from mentors.

Life skill: Being able to learn from older mentors by graciously accepting their wisdom as a vital part of the learning process. This implies suspension of judgment as to the immediate personal value of the material offered.
Concept: Experiential learning

Jazz skill: Participating in a group effort through ensemble collaboration.

Life skill: Maintaining an open and respectful attitude towards other group members by working with them as peers, regardless of age, gender, proficiency level, nationality, religion, race, etc. This infers that being better at a task does not mean personal superiority or the opposite.
Key concept: Mutual respect

Jazz skill: Realizing one’s unique “voice.”
Life skill: By honing one’s own vision, the individual assumes an active role towards changing and improving a given situation by offering unique and personal ideas towards that end. This involves critical and creative thinking, honest self evaluation, much discipline and a desire to change one’s status quo towards discovering a better way to accomplish something.
Key concept: Clarity of vision

Jazz skill: Knowing the “standard” repertoire (history and traditions) as it is along with the desire and ability to vary these set directives in creative and multiple ways, both spontaneously as well as pre-planned.

Life skill: Being able to adjust and change direction in a situation already framed by a given set of rules and conditions which may or may not encourage new discoveries and innovation; seizing the moment and affecting immediate change while at the same time being actively involved in the process itself; having the necessary confidence to accomplish this goal with the awareness that the final result might not be realized until later with no guarantees concerning the outcome.
Key concept: Flexibility

Jazz skill: To be able to “swing” meaning being part of the surrounding context (“groove”).

Life skill: Being part of the creative process taking place; to energize and be energized by interacting with the involved parties towards realizing a goal; feeling a “joie du vivre” through being involved in a group effort.
Key concept: Commitment

Jazz skill: Composing original music

Life skill: Creating something new and/or modifying an already established tradition or practice based upon one’s imagination, skills and experiences.
Key concept: Individual creativity

Jazz skill: Being in the moment, aware of what is happening around you (in a playing situation).

Life skill: An open attitude towards the new and unexpected without fear or immediate judgment; realizing that out of the old comes the new to be embraced and refined as befitting the specifics of a situation.
Key concept: Awareness

Jazz skill: Interaction on stage; communication with an audience; working within one’s immediate musical community.

Life skill: Realizing your relationship to one’s direct working and social environment, meaning the immediate group as well as society at large; the ability to see the “big picture” in both one’s private and public life.
Key concept: Citizenship

Jazz skill: Being an entertainer and communicator.

Life skill: Realizing the social component and purpose of your work; the ability to offer one’s ideas and creative work in a manner that will successfully convey ideas and concepts to a given audience for consideration.
Key concept: Communication

Jazz skill: Being an artist

Life skill: To recognize the deep intrinsic values of what one does in life on both a practical and spiritual level; communicating core universal values (truth, beauty, compassion, etc.) in a way that both educates and entertains.
Key concept: Spirituality

John Dewey, one of America’s foremost thinkers on education:

“…each (individual) shall have the education which enables him to see within his daily work all there is in it of large and human significance – first and foremost to teach habits of learning.”

Thanks to Walter Turkenburg, Jari Perkiomaki and those educators who offered comments.


Listeners of Coast to Coast AM, may remember hearing host George Noory experimenting on air with a tuning fork. Specifically, this fork was resonating at 528 Hertz. Guest Dr. Leonard Horowitz claims this and five other tones make up a lost Solfeggio scale, and that these tones activate certain spiritual or healing properties.

For those who want to experiment with these tones after reading this article,

I created sine wave recordings of the six tones.

The Six Tones Are:
UT: 396 Hz (liberating guilt and fear)
RE: 417 (Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change)
MI: 528 Hz (Transformation and Miracles, DNA Repair)
FA: 639 Hz (Connecting/Relationships)
SO: 741 Hz (Awakening Intuition)
LA: 852 Hz (Returning to Spiritual Order)

The audio files in the ZIP file are single channel 16-bit 44.1KHZ WAV files, each five seconds in duration. The tone is a pure sine wave, recorded at -12dBFS. Do not change the amplitude of these files or reencode to a lossy format such as MP3, as this will introduce impurities into the sound!

Others have created youtube clips containing these tones, but with severely degraded audio quality. If these frequencies do have any special properties, any such adulteration as converting to lossy formats will cancel out any supposed benefits.

Load these into Windows Media Player, Winamp, itunes, any multitrack audio editor or a sampler, and have fun.

To get more than 5 seconds, simply turn repeat mode on in whichever audio software you are using.

Announcing Creative America – United Against Content Theft

The Problem

The music industry has been completely decimated by the far more powerful technology corporations that make high margins by distributing content without compensating the creators,investors and owners who made the content.
I Drink Your Milkshake

Now the movie entertainment industry is under threat. Creative America is a grassroots organization uniting the entertainment community and others against content theft.

Part Of the Solution!

Visit Creative America

Online Content Theft, The Full Documentary

Making Stuff and Making Money

“Rather than wealth creation, we’re mostly seeing wealth redistribution – which is nothing short of a recipe for disaster (which we are, arguably, currently watching unfold before our eyes). Wealth redistribution is akin to a game of pass the parcel: the more time you spend passing it around, the less of it there is.

I need hardly tell you how it works in our little farm-plot. Music hasn’t lost its value – people are still listening to as much music (if not more) as they ever have been. The value is simply being captured by people who have nothing to do with its creation, nor any intention to contribute to it. Its a self-defeating strategy, in that the pirates exist in a world where there is ever less valuable music being made, whilst the value of existing music slowly decreases. Now, I’m all for pirates sinking their own ship, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t drag the rest of us down with them.”


“The same people who take offence at CDs costing $18 are folks that applaud charging $5,000 for dinner opportunities on Kickstarter, or some such. I can whip up a beaut dinner for you for free – if I like you enough. I’m a fine cook, if I do say so myself. For some reason, I find the idea of charging ~20 bucks for a potential lifetime of music listening much less repulsive than charging thousands of dollars for pretending to be your friend. Maybe I’m just getting old.”


WQXR Blog Poll: What Would Help Troubled American Orchestras?

Later this week, WQXR will devote the latest installment of our music-industry debate series, Conducting Business, to the troubles facing several major American orchestras.

No recent fall concert season has approached with so many ensembles in such serious fiscal straights as we’re seeing at the moment. Delayed or even cancelled fall seasons may result. Consider:

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra stopped paying musicians and locked them out of its facilities after increasingly ugly contract talks reached an impasse.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has canceled its first two weekends of performances after contract talks with its musicians union broke down Saturday.

The Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, two Twin Cities ensembles with rich histories, are both staring down projected multi-million dollar deficits and tough contract talks with musicians.

And the San Antonio Symphony reports a $1 million deficit and no contract with its musicians.

Read More