Challenging Your Conventional Listening Stereotypes: Zach Danziger and Owen Biddle TEDx Performance


After last night’s concert of O.S.Z. - short for: Owen Biddle (bs), Sixtus Preiss (keys) and Zach Danziger (dr) – at Kongress Bar Munich, I ventured a little further into finding out about the concept that Owen Biddle and Zach Danziger started with Oli Rockberger, who manned the keyboards at last year’s performance in the same venue in Munich. And I came across this:

Zach Danziger and Owen Biddle TEDx Performance.

Now, as an avid live music buff or culturally inclined individual, I think it’s a good idea to be prepared for the fact that you can leave your typical ways of conventional listening to music at home – and this doesn’t even account for your preferred genre of music. Instead, what you’re going to experience transcends downtrodden, stale ideas of genre, musical form and performances thereof: You’ll experience a sonic vortex that will challenge not only your musical self – be it as an active musician or music lover -, but what the congenial power trio are bringing to the stage in real time is nothing short of a new approach to sonic perception per se. Forget about figuring out, where the predominant beat of any given bar is placed, cast aside ideas of “four on the floor” or even just regular measures, but try to open your mind to the idea of a pulse being generated from a free form of audio triggers that will still amalgamate into an inimitable blend of phrases, beats and heavily throbbing sub-tones coming from Biddle’s bass with its equally outstanding looks sporting an acrylic body, thus exposing the electronics built into the instrument.

With this year’s lineup the sound seems to have changed a little bit over last year’s, probably due to a new, less cumbersome approach of the band to setting up and handling the electronic hardware involved in creating these fireworks of signals, both conventional as well as MIDI-triggered/electronic. In a nutshell, you could say that each instruments is connected to an audio interface that functions a little bit like a microphone at its core, thus sending the regular audio impulse to a piece of software on the laptop, from which a series and layers of electronic signals are being generated. I hadn’t really asked for a proper interview slot nor asked for such a thing impromptu (thus respecting the band’s schedule and existing agreements with other parties), but managed to get this one inquiry in when overhearing another interviewer’s question, while the band finished setting up and checking sound. For the tech geeks amongst  us: From what I derived from Zach Danziger’s reply was that they now use an approach, which takes the raw audio signal, sends it into the software, the software reads “transient spikes” of audio and uses those spikes to generate a MIDI signal to be interpreted by sound generating plug-ins, such as e.g. MIDI synthesizers or arpeggios coming from said plug-ins. I would have loved to follow up on this and get the specific details, but this time, I hadn’t really arranged for such an opportunity in advance. But if you watch above video closely – in particular the media screen behind the musicians – you get the basic idea of how the equipment is wired and who controls what at any given moment during the performance.

What’s interesting about this approach is that there is a stronger place and role for the conventional sounds coming from the instruments. In other words: Whereas last year’s sound was almost purely electronic, this year’s sound provided a more prominent place in the mix for the instruments per se, which became visually and sonically apparent via Preiss’s vintage Fender Rhodes piano on stage, which created a nice antidote to the purely electronic sounds coming from all sorts of other keyboards and hardware they had set up. At the risk of contradicting my own headline here: You might say that the instruments’ natural sounds being more present in the overall “audioscape” might be taken as a kind of sonic “guardrail” or “anchors”, whereby you might have an easier time discerning all of what’s going on on stage.

The most impressing thing – to me, anyway – was the connection between the band members and just how they’re capable of keeping that pulse going without form, lead sheets and acting purely on feel, instinct and a few cues here and there, while they seemed to take turns in “leading the pack” musically with the other two responding immediately and making musical sense of whatever was introduced at any given moment.

If you had to put it in one phrase, I’d say this outstanding act represents a musical force majeure that can barely be explained, but needs to be experienced in order to get the full effect of their art. And isn’t true art about challenging conventions of any kind here and there? If that was true, O.S.Z. fully deliver!

Challenging Your Conventional Listening Stereotypes: Zach Danziger and Owen Biddle TEDx Performance


After last night’s concert of O.S.Z. - short for: Owen Biddle (bs), Sixtus Preiss (keys) and Zach Danziger (dr) – at Kongress Bar Munich, I ventured a little further into finding out about the concept that Owen Biddle and Zach Danziger started with Oli Rockberger, who manned the keyboards at last year’s performance in the same venue in Munich. And I came across this:

Zach Danziger and Owen Biddle TEDx Performance.

Now, as an avid live music buff or culturally inclined individual, I think it’s a good idea to be prepared for the fact that you can leave your typical ways of conventional listening to music at home – and this doesn’t even account for your preferred genre of music. Instead, what you’re going to experience transcends downtrodden, stale ideas of genre, musical form and performances thereof: You’ll experience a sonic vortex that will challenge not only your musical self – be it as an active musician or music lover -, but what the congenial power trio are bringing to the stage in real time is nothing short of a new approach to sonic perception per se. Forget about figuring out, where the predominant beat of any given bar is placed, cast aside ideas of “four on the floor” or even just regular measures, but try to open your mind to the idea of a pulse being generated from a free form of audio triggers that will still amalgamate into an inimitable blend of phrases, beats and heavily throbbing sub-tones coming from Biddle’s bass with its equally outstanding looks sporting an acrylic body, thus exposing the electronics built into the instrument.

What was interesting this year is that the sound seems to have changed a little bit over last year’s, probably due to a new, less cumbersome approach of the band to setting up and handling the electronic hardware involved in creating these fireworks of signals, both conventional as well as MIDI-triggered/electronic. In a nutshell, you could say that each instruments is connected to an audio interface that functions a little bit like a microphone at its core, thus sending the regular audio impulse to a piece of software on the laptop, from which a series and layers of electronic signals are being generated. I hadn’t really asked for a proper interview slot nor asked for such a thing impromptu (thus respecting the band’s schedule and existing agreements with other parties), but managed to get this one inquiry in when overhearing another interviewer’s question, while the band finished setting up and checking sound. For the tech geeks amongst  us: From what I derived from Zach Danziger’s reply was that they now use an approach, which takes the raw audio signal, sends it into the software, the software reads “transient spikes” of audio and uses those spikes to generate a MIDI signal to be interpreted by sound generating plug-ins, such as e.g. MIDI synthesizers or arpeggios coming from said plug-ins. I would have loved to follow up on this and get the specific details, but this time, I hadn’t really arranged for such an opportunity in advance.

What’s interesting about this approach is that there is a stronger place and role for the conventional sounds coming from the instruments. In other words: Whereas last year’s sound was almost purely electronic, this year’s sound provided a more prominent place in the mix for the instruments per se, which became visually and sonically apparent via Preiss’s vintage Fender Rhodes piano on stage, which created a nice antidote to the purely electronic sounds coming from all sorts of other keyboards and hardware they had set up. At the risk of contradicting my own headline here: You might say that the instruments’ natural sounds being more present in the overall “audioscape” might be taken as a kind of sonic “guardrail” or “anchors”, whereby you might have an easier time discerning all of what’s going on on stage.

The most impressing thing – to me, anyway – was the connection between the band members and just how they’re capable of keeping that pulse going without form, lead sheets and acting purely on feel, instinct and a few cues here and there, while they seemed to take turns in “leading the pack” musically with the other two responding immediately and making musical sense of whatever was introduced at any given moment.

If you had to put it in one phrase, I’d say this outstanding act represents a musical force majeure that can barely be explained, but needs to be experienced in order to get the full effect of their art. And isn’t true art about challenging conventions of any kind here and there? If that was true, O.S.Z. fully deliver!

Audiam.com turns Copyright Infringement into Making Money!


This is cool!.

My Facebook- und G+ friend Patricia Britton of Utopian Dreams Band shared this cool service URL with us: Audiam.com are collecting your streaming royalties from exposure and play on YouTube and see to it that you’re making the money you are entitled to! The key word here is perfoming rights. For more detailed information on how it all works, please see this: Audiam – how it works.

Archived Songwriters Showcase HOA #4 – YouTube, Sunday 20th 2013


Yay! Got invited to the Songwriters Showcase HOA #4 – YouTube by Jonathan Blackshire the other day to appear live on a Google Hangout on Air. This was a first for me and I was kind of nervous, because I had struggled hard with finding a good configuration that would omit latency as much as possible, while still being able to hear myself play along with the playback of two of my tracks. And since struggling with technology and keeping an eye on it stresses me out to an extent, it’s a challenge to be relaxed at the same time and get into the feel of the song. Ugh! How was I doing it in my earlier years, when I’d play music for a living year round? I don’t remember. I do remember it being just as stressful then, though, LOL. Anyway, personal challenges or not, I hope I came out o.k. and didn’t butcher it. Also, pls. lend an ear to the fellow artists’ performances, e.g. Jeff Hellman’s beautiful songs and vocals as well as featured artist’s Cecilee Linke’s blend of acoustic and electronic music.

Songwriters’ Showcase HOA on G+: I’ll go on air in about 3.5 hours from now


Jonathan Blackshire kindly invited me to perform two of my songs on the Songwriters’ Showcase Hangout on Air tonight. I have struggled quite some with finding the best working configuration, but think I found something that’ll work out. When compared to available bandwidth in the U.S., we are almost on the other side of the digital divide over here, at least for some rural parts of the country, which I happen to live in. Upstream is at 1 Mbps tops for me and I hope I’ll have that bandwidth available later tonight (seeing as it’ll be 00.15 am in my timezone, I’m counting on not too much competing traffic around that time).
Other than the technical challenges, I’m thrilled to participate in this and I’m excited over the possibilities technology continues to give us. To think of such an opportunity some 30 years ago, when my passion for music and the music business per se was at its peak, would have been outlandish! And now I get to converse and jam with musicians and music lovers from all around the world! Woohoo, that’s totally amazing!
I’m not sure, whether you need to be registered on G+ to simply watch and follow the event without interaction. I’d say give it try by clicking the link above and saving the URL and time.
See you later? I hope so :)

Human Evolutionary Project – Google+ Live Hangout w/ wesbound


Save the date: I’ll be performing two songs of mine live on “Human Evolutionary Project” on G+, hosted by Jonathan Blackshire. Feel invited to listen and watch live – and spread the word! Sunday, 6 pm EST. See you there! https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cme69effrtgc5s7na002ntmk2cs

Songwriters Showcase HOA #4 w/ +Cecilee Linke – Google+.

Too much Fourplay? There’s no such thing! :)


Fourplay I“After 20 years of Fourplay, maybe they felt we should move on…”, says Chuck Loeb in a jocular manner later that night, employing the pun on words in the band’s name when introducing one of the songs he contributed to Fourplay’s 12th album “Let’s Touch the Sky“. While the cover art suggests that very endeavor with the band member’s hands reaching up, nearly two hours of stellar live music performances left no doubt among avid music lovers who had flocked to Bayerischer Hof Night Club on this November, 8th 2011 night that Smooth Jazz’s famous supergroup are doing exactly that: They’re not only touching the sky, but weaving a musical skyscape with arrangements and solos that exude virtuosity, verve and vitality in equal parts.

Katharina Ehmki, CEO of Ehmki Music Management, promoter and press relations at the venue, landed the renowned music act as a major highlight of her New York at Bayerischer Hof series, and proved her experienced hand at knowing Jazz fans’ expectations: Fourplay packed the place to the last available seat and had every non-seated area crowded as well! Which might explain why fans had started to line up well before admittance at 8 pm, as Fourplay had sold out many venues prior to coming to Munich.

I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time and I was curious to see, what Chuck Loeb would sound like in this rarity of a group of musical heavyweights, where each of them is undoubtedly a leader in their own right, yet they appear to have kept ego out of the way and managed to amalgamate four strong musical personalities into a band – and with a formula that’s been going strong for the past two decades with only two changes to the line-up: Prior to Loeb, Larry Carlton held the guitar seat from 1998 through 2010, while Lee Ritenour was a founding member and stayed from 1991 through 1997.

// Soundcheck and Gear.

Chuck Loeb IEarlier, Lena and I had the pleasure to meet Sonny Abelardo, the band’s manager and tour manager, who allowed us to witness Fourplay’s soundcheck. I was impressed by the calm and almost casual atmosphere during soundcheck, which speaks of the skill level and professionalism of the sound engineers traveling with the band. Setting optimal sound required only minimal feedback from the artists on stage and if so, they would quietly give hand signals to the sound crew operating from the second floor of the club opposite of the stage, this being the perfect spot for maximum sonic control.

Nathan EastBassist and vocalist Nathan East intoned the opening song’s theme of Eastern Sky Chant repeatedly and with aerial ease, thus giving the sound engineers an opportunity to adjust the mic and perfectly blend it with his signature bass sound, coming from a Yamaha BBNE2 Signature Model amplified by a compact, yet powerful Aguilar stack. Chuck Loeb’s gear consisted of two Fender Twin Reverb amps, a Line 6 M13 stomp box modeler, an Ernie Ball volume pedal, a Boss Expression pedal and an Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal for creamy, “singing” distorted lead sounds, next to his honey colored Sadowsky solid body guitar, which he endorses among other models of the same N.Y. manufacturer. A year ago, we had seen him operate an Apple Mac Book Pro on stage at Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg 2010, using Apple’s software Mainstage to control and switch sounds via an Apogee Gio floorboard. However, experiences with unfavorable weather conditions during some outdoor events in California (“It never rains in (Southern) California“? – sure does!) had him rethink the fragility of a computer laptop and choose in favor of more robust, but still flexible gear.

Harvey Mason IIBob JamesFourplay’s drummer Harvey Mason played a black Yamaha drum kit sporting six tom-toms and Sabian cymbals to my surprise, when I would have expected him to use Tama drums, which he has been endorsing for some years. And Fourplay’s pianist, keyboardist and music director Bob James enjoyed a Boesendorfer grand piano with a Yamaha Motif controller keyboard sitting on top of it – and an Apple iPad on top of that, which displayed digital lead sheets and a little surprise at the end of the concert.

Fourplay II

// Chuck Loeb on working with Fourplay.

Chuck Loeb IIIWe had met Chuck Loeb and Nathan East earlier during a casual get together with musician friends from Munich and while making our way downstairs, Chuck shared a few bits about the past year of touring and what it felt like being a member of Fourplay.

Q: What is touring with Fourplay like?
CL: We enjoy ourselves and the fans thoroughly and have a lot of fun on the road. Whenever our schedule gives us the opportunity, we head out to exploring the cities we play in and shoot images and videos for our Facebook profiles and other social media sites. The other day I noticed an image Nathan had taken of me while being on a morning walk through beautiful Budapest in Hungary. Often though, the schedule is tight and we have to rush from the airport to the hotel, get ready for soundcheck, play the show and then go to a different place on the very next day. So, there’s never a dull moment! (wb: Fourplay’s manager Sonny Abelardo later remarked how quickly and effortlessly Chuck Loeb had settled in with the band, being the great team player he is.)

Q: When you received the call to join Fourplay, what was your reaction?
CL, (as per Jim Dail’s article in The Californian): “I was definitely eager to join the band, having been a fan of the band from the beginning,” said Loeb. “It’s a really good moment for me as the focus on my own career was changing, and this left the door open to pursue two different areas, to keep me challenged.” And he continues: “It’s a really exciting step for me, sort of the latest stage in my career.”

Q: You have contributed two original compositions to “Let’s Touch the Sky”. How were the songs selected?
CL: The band is very democratic when it comes to the repertoire. We vote on which songs make it on to the album, what the sequence of songs should be etc. When I got the call, jokingly they said “Part of the initiation process, Chuck, is that you have to write the number one song - for the band! [It] Put the pressure on a little bit … but I – uhmm – I think I may have hit it with 3rd Degree. (wb: A pun denoting the fact that Chuck Loeb is the third guitarist of the band).

Q: I noticed that you are using different gear today. What made you replace the Mac Book Pro and Gio in favor of a Line 6 M13?
CL: I love the Mac Book Pro and the Gio, but believe it or not: We played a few outdoor concerts in California, when it started to rain! Usually, there is a tarp covering all the stage area. However, there were a few places, where this was not the case. I have the Mac Book Pro not too far from me on stage to check settings or display the setlist. So it got rained on! I didn’t want to have it ruined by the humidity and thought that some more robust gear might be better suited. The M13 pedal board by Line 6 gives me a robust casing and still a lot of flexibility in terms of sound. In addition to that, I recently found an old Ibanez Tube Screamer, which gives me a great distorted sound – I love it!

// The Concert.

Fourplay IIThe soundcheck had continued for a little bit, with Nathan East singing “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder and playing chord changes on bass, the other musicians joined in, while the sound crew made adjustments on the mixing console as they played. Eventually, Sonny announced “9 pm in the lobby, 9.15 showtime” and the band split for a little more relaxation before the concert. Meanwhile doors had opened and people progressed to find their seats and barstools.

At 9.15 sharp the band appeared back on stage and was met with enthusiastic bordering on frenetic applause! Nathan East started the set by singing the beautiful, breezy Eastern Sky Chant theme, backed a low-key, yet highly precise groove coming from Harvey Mason’s drum set, with lots of cymbal work, thus highlighting the East-meets-West atmosphere of the song. East soloed first, demonstrating his impressive fingerstyle picking bass chops and feel for chords and harmonies, which his six-string bass enables him to lay in addition to Bob James’ piano and keyboards work. Chuck Loeb did a solo next and received quite a bit of spontaneous applause coming from the audience, which was comprised of music lovers and admiring musicians, too. And their idols were at the top of their virtuosity with the first note they play!

Bob James IIBob James preceded Blues Force with a long, almost classically informed piano-only intro, a little reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s way of doing completely improvised concerts. It seamlessly blended into the signature shuffle-feel, which allowed Harvey Mason to show off his clockwork-precision timing and set the musical pocket for Nathan East to comfortably rest in throughout the song. In other words: They make a tight rhythm group as you want it to be!

Harvey MasonHarvey Mason got to shine again with a solo during Robobop, where he would hold one drum stuck horizontally with his teeth and mouth in order to place very subtle snare and tom-tom knocks with one hand, thus creating a rich envelope of volume changes ranging from pianissimo – and supported by Bob James’ delicate string pad sounds – to a full throttle thumping, yet contained groove.

 

 

Nathan East IINathan East would resort to a chord-orientied intro to Argentina and Bob James later followed with a solo that can almost be called “physical” in so far as it saw him lean into the grand piano as if he was about to hug it. 101 Eastbound was another tip of the hat to previous Fourplay albums, the last one of this set, which is not on “Let’s Touch The Sky”. A Night in Rio featured Nathan East’s soothing and unintrusive vocals again, most tastefully and virtuously accompanied by his bass lines and chords. On the album’s title track Let’s Touch the Sky, Bob James and Chuck took short solo parts in an alternating fashion, always keeping it fresh and building and releasing tension as they’d pass the musical ball back and forth between them. Chuck Loeb surprised during his solo in Pineapple Getaway by playing a short recurring citation of Benson’s “Breezin’”. Bob James poignantly honored one of his own favorite Jazz pianists, Hank Jones, when introducing the song Gentle Giant, which he tributes to him in response to having found similarities in Chuck Loeb IIIboth their careers during a personal encounter in Japan. Another shining moment of so
many that night was Chuck Loeb’s long lyrical solo intro to Above & Beyond, his other composition on the album. It’s at such moments where you realize the incredible musicianship of this ace guitarist, as every note and open string or chord was crystal clear from perfect fingering of the left hand. It was also particularly impressive for guitarists to see, how quickly he switched from finger picking with his right hand and using the guitar pick in other places. (I did my best to figure this out and explain it to interested guitar players in this short video). Nathan East graced our ear buds with stellar vocals again in his song I’ll Still Be Lovin’ You, jokingly introduced by Harvey Mason, adding “…maybe” to the title and yielding a round of chuckles, laughter and applause in the audience. In general, the atmosphere on stage was marked by a light-heartedness and fun shared by the artists, that again underlines the absence of ego and might well be one of the reasons that make for the ongoing success and steadiness.


Chuck Loeb IVI had asked myself all night, when they would perform 3rd Degree and what can I say: They saved the best for last! Chuck Loeb’s highly sophisticated, technically quite challenging, yet funky uptempo groove with catchy hook lines had the band totally on fire! Don’t get me wrong: They were always fresh, entertaining and on top of their craft all night. But 3rd Degree was like one season-winning home run! They performed the song with a number of variations to the recorded album version, such as e.g. an introductory wah-wah-guitar rhythm, slightly reminiscent of the famous The Streets of San Francisco lick of the film score, a very funky clavinet sound employed by James and a session-like vamp in the beginning. Before they entered into the blazing fast lines towards the end of the song, Chuck Loeb would quickly mimic the sign of the cross at 7.52 min. into the video as if to summon God’s help on the finish! :) When the last note had rung silent, the crowd was ecstatic and it came as no surprise that they cheered the band back on stage for no less then three encores, which again were songs from previous years: Bali RunMore Than A Dream and Bob James’ Westchester Lady, a song that is said to have established the Smooth Jazz genre as such. Before they left the stage that night, Bob James unmounted the iPad from his Grand Piano and had a “Danke Schön!” scrolling across the display, showing it around to standing ovations and thunderous applause that wouldn’t ebb for minutes!

Bob James IIITo me, there is hardly a doubt that Fourplay define the state of the art in the Contemporary Jazz genre. These most accomplished composer-musicians, each of whom have careers rich in musical diversity and reading like a who-is-who list in Jazz, R&B, Pop and even Rock, have solidified their highest standard of excellence by virtue of writing, recording, producing and touring profusely. And they haven’t lost one beat in 20 years!

My heartfelt thanks go to Lena Semmelroggen of ©Smashing Snapshots, who again managed to take a set of beautiful signature shots, she’s become known for.
Thanks also to Marco for letting me link to the videos he shot at Bayerischer Hof, Munich and elsewhere on Fourplay’s tour.
 
 
 
view all pictures inline here by clicking on one of them:

I’ve entered into the Big Audition at Pizza Express London!


Hello friends, fans and supporters!

As a Reverbnation citizen, artists get notified of upcoming opportunities. These opportunities happen in the U.S. for the most part and come at a small submission fee. For various reasons, I’m unable to front the money for an itinerary and/or tour on U.S. soil at this point. So I might be missing out on great chances of getting seen and heard by you… which is…shall we say unfortunate?

However… I now found something that might turn out to be an exciting opportunity, I’d be better able to follow up on: It’s called the Big Audition at Pizza Express Jazz Club London. Starting as of July 27th, 2011 – which was two days ago – the Big Audition is open for artist submissions to enter a contest that will be rewarded with a live performance among the top 50 candidates at one of their outlets. The winner gets to take home a prize of 5,000 British Pounds! As Pizza Express’s founder Peter Boizot is a huge music proponent, they have made live music venues an integral part of their concept from the beginning. And guess who got their big break there? No lesser man than Jamie Cullum, Britain’s own wunderkind himself! Legend has it, he performed there for a free meal and got discovered on the spot with regular follow-up performances!

Whether or not I’ll be able to do as well as Mr. Cullum – is up to me preparing and – YOU! Here’s what you can do:

  • Forward this message to your friends and fellow music lovers
  • Follow me on Reverbnation, Facebook, my Facebook page, Twitter as well as my own blog
  • If I get to enter the top 50 candidates, spread the word! Or better: If you happen to live in the UK or feel like a little trip to a live music event, consider showing up at one of the 50 Regional Heats performances!

The performances from those regional heats will be uploaded to the competition site and an ensuing public voting process will decide over whether or not the artist proceeds to become one of the top 10 semi-finalists. Well… but first things first. :) I entered four submissions so far, three songs and a video with audio (terms say you can, as long as they’re not the same song and different in style – which I’d say they all are). Making some noise on my behalf will certainly raise the panel’s attention levels, so… shall we do this?

In any case… these will be exciting weeks and months to come. Stay tuned!

wesbound, July 2011

Podcast of WAGTi Interview


Hi,

those of you, who couldn’t make the live chatroom last night on April’s and Poetry Man’s WAGTi Radio, pls. find the podcast for listening at your best convenience by starting the audio player below:

Download: wesbound_on_WAGTi_04-08-2010.mp3%2090

It was a great experience and next to being extremely honored to have gotten invited by April and Christopher L. Fields/The Poetry Man, I must say it was an exciting and fun experience. Hope, I made sense with my answers to April’s and Christopher’s questions :-). Enjoy!