I'm Tony Miceli, and I'm a vibe player in Philadelphia, Pa. I play, teach and I run

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy 20th Anniversary, Dreambox Media!

Dreambox Media is an independent alternative jazz label that has been operating here in Philly for 20 years, run by Jim Miller and Suzanne Cloud. Many of Philly's best jazz artists have recorded on Dreambox (including this blog's namesake, Larry McKenna).

Check out their site - buy something! The great thing about Dreambox is that almost all of the profits go back to the artists, who retain ownership of their own masters and publishing rights.

There is a nice tribute to Jim, Suzanne, and Dreambox in today's paper.

There's also an anniversary/CD release party (The Birdhouse Project) at 7 pm on Thursday, March 8, at Chris' Jazz Cafe. See you there!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blank sheet music site

Here you can print all types of blank sheet music for free! I love free.

10 Years of Beatles Analysis!

Here's a musicologist who spent 10 years analyzing every one of the Beatles' songs! You can search his results by an alphabetical, a canonical and a chronological index. Pretty cool.

Music Algorithms

This site looks unusual...though too heavy for me at this hour! It's where "students of music composition can explore algorithmic composition, while others can create musical representations of models for the purpose of aural interpretation and analysis."

Try for yourself.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Got instruments to donate?

I just saw this ad on Craig's list and thought I'd spread the word. Bill runs a community center in West Philadelphia and says, "I have 80 great kids in our afterschool program and I am looking for donated instruments to help start a music program. I am a musician myself and I have three volunteers lined up to help me teach different intruments. I would really like acoustic guitars and a piano, keyboard or midi controller if you have one you wish to part with."

He would welcome other instruments too. To find out more, go here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Piano playing cat!

This is crazy - but for real. I know these folks.

She's playing "Thelonious" in slow motion! Don't miss the duet starting at 1:40.

Here's an article about Nora the cat in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rain, Thunder, Ocean...Vibes??

I knew that nature sounds were supposed to relax you...but vibes?

According to this Sound Sleeping site, these sounds and more will help relieve anxiety and aid in sleep, meditation, gig nerves, etc. Kind of a cool site - you can play the sounds online, mixing them together from a soundboard. Anyway I'm getting ready for bed so maybe I'll crank up the gulls and ocean waves...and drown out the drone of this lousy humidifier I just bought. Sweet dreams.

P.S. I was wondering how thunder is relaxing, til I just saw this logic: "An atmosphere of rain and thunder may be especially relaxing, because one feels they cannot go out to work"!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Who said that?!

Was it....

Miles Davis
Charlie Parker
Louis Armstrong
Duke Ellington
Dizie Gillespie

1. "Not too slow, not too fast. Kind of half-fast."

2. "Roaming through the jungle of 'oohs' and 'ahs', searching for a more agreeable noise, I live a life of primitivity with the mind of a child and an unquenchable thirst for sharps and flats."

3. "I'll play it first and tell you what it is later."

4. "I don't care too much about music. What I like is sounds."

5. "Bop is no love-child of jazz."

(Answers in the first comment)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Smithsonian Jazz Lesson Plans

If you teach kids about jazz, you might find some helpful materials at this Smithsonian jazz website, which includes lesson plans, worksheets, listening assignments and games.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day Video.

I'm having trouble posting this video from YouTube, so you'll just have to go there to watch it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Laser Metronome

At first I thought this was a gag, but I guess it's for real...? Anyone ever heard of this before? Judging by the video, I think cats would go nuts trying to catch the beat on the wall. Take a look.

More on Just Intonation

Pretty interesting stuff, especially the sound samples and thoughts like:

"...equal temperament chords do have a kind of active buzz to them, a level of harmonic excitement and intensity. By contrast, just-intonation chords are much calmer, more passive; you literally have to slow down to listen to them....after I've been immersed in just intonation for a couple of weeks, equal temperament music begins to sound insipid, bland, colorless. There are only eleven types of intervals available instead of the potential several dozen that exist in even the simplest just system, and you don't get gradations of different sizes of major third or major sixths the way you do in just tuning."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Humidifiers & pianos - Any tips?

Having recently acquired a grand piano, I've been doing some reading about humidity and its effect on pianos.

"Relative humidity," measured as percentage, expresses the amount of water vapor actually in the air compared to the maximum amount the air could hold at a certain temperature. When the relative humidity level drops low, moistures leaves the piano and the pitch can fall, tuning pins can loosen, and parts can rattle. Also, drastic seasonal swings in relative humidity and resulting repeated expansion and contraction of wood can cause damage through cracking and warping.

It's said that the ideal humidity level for pianos is about 40-50%. In recent months, the humidity in my place has ranged from around 65% down to 20% - not good. (By the way, I've been pleased with this $19 thermometer/hygrometer I picked up at Radio Shack to measure humidity and temperature - it has a nifty feature of showing the high and low points in between resettings.)

I've started to research humidifiers - both room humidifiers and systems that attach underneath the piano to regulate humidity at the soundboard. Two concert pianists I know in New York use Venta room humidiers, which are $200-300 for the size I'd need. Another Philadelphia pianist is happy with a less expensive Sears brand for about $170.

I've heard the Dampp-Chaser system that is installed on a piano costs around $400-500 (not including labor - a technician must install it if you want the warranty). I know one professional pianist who used one, but then removed it with no ill effects.

If you've got any experience with humidifiers, please share! Thanks.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pianadelphia: Philadelphia Jazz Tribute Vol. 1

Anyone have this CD yet? Sounds great. The Philadelphia Inquirer gave it a ***1/2 star review, copied below. (Some day I hope to get around to my own reviews...)

Also, click here to see a video of performance excerpts and interviews with Tom Lawton, Trudy Pitts, Jim Ridl, Sid Simmons, Don Wilson, and Dave Posmontier.

"Pianadelphia: Philadelphia Jazz Tribute Vol. 1
(Soulsearch Music ***1/2)

Fourteen Philly-based pianists take on a like number of tunes written by a bevy of the city's jazz greats. The result: a certifiable Schuylkill-to-Delaware collection. And while the set leaves out some great ones, the CD represents a fast who's who on keyboards from the longtime Four Seasons gigmeister Tom Lawton to Neil Podgurski, whose recent CD is called New Fire.

Trudy Pitts is a knockout, playing orchestral-sized chords on John Coltrane's "Naima," while Jim Ridl proves to be percussive and inventively angular on Pat Martino's "The Great Stream."

Another pianist with Martino links, Ron Thomas, goes for gorgeous on the guitar master's "A Portrait of Diana," while Paul Sottile's take of Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'" checks in on the pleasant side of funky.

Philly stalwarts Don Wilson, Sid Simmons and Rich Budesa all score reasonably, with Wilson's take of Lee Morgan's "Ceora" sounding unusually soulful. Dave Posmontier pulls some rich classical gas from Benny Golson's "Whisper Not," while Bill Schilling, Lucas Brown, Gary Moran and George Burton all add to the party.
--K. Stark"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Shape of Song

This web site is pretty unusual...and easiest to describe in its own words:

"The custom software in this work draws musical patterns in the form of translucent arches, allowing viewers to see--literally--the shape of any composition available on the Web. The resulting images reflect the full range of musical forms, from the deep structure of Bach to the crystalline beauty of Philip Glass."

Listen to the songs and look at the translucent arches!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tutorials on theory, improv and arranging

Scrambling to keep up with the blog these here's a quick post. This site looks interesting, offering tutorials on jazz theory, improvisation, and arranging. There's also a page on saxophone effects.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Billy Strayhorn PBS Documentary on Feb. 6, & CD soundtrack review

Check out the 90-minute documentary on Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington's composing partner, on Feb. 6, Tuesday night on PBS (in Philadelphia, 10 p.m., WHYY-TV, Ch. 12).

The CD soundtrack, "Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life" (Blue Note), earned a ***1/2 review in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's an excerpt:

"Its sonic merits are evident even without seeing the film; the celebrating is done by such folks as pianists Bill Charlap and Hank Jones, singers Dianne Reeves and Elvis Costello, and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. And for Reeves and Charlap, these are not mere cameos.

Reeves sings on six of the 15 cuts, digging deep into Strayhorn's epic title track and projecting solar flares of emotion on the ballad "Day Dream." Charlap and Jones make a mad and merry duet of "Tonk" that bridges the generational split between them while Lovano blows some moody air around the ever sensual "Chelsea Bridge."

Costello offers some intriguing, if not entirely successful, efforts on a remake of "Blood Count," which Strayhorn wrote as he lay dying of esophageal cancer in 1967.

As Duke Ellington's in-house writer, Strayhorn created many of the compositions most associated with the leader. His rich and desperation-filled life left us stylish music that continues to inspire."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Music Transcriptions

Short and sweet: here are a ton of music transcriptions you can download for free. Most include MIDI files.