The Jazz.com Blog
April 01, 2009 · 1 comment
In which your intrepid blogger covers Bennie Maupin, Brahms, some ugly pipes, and the role of the Internet. . .
Mark Saleski is an intrepid seeker after hidden musical riches and an editor at jazz.com. Below he ponders how the Internet is changing the way we make random discoveries about music and ugly pipes (among other things). T.G.
So here I am, writing for an Internet-only publication, while occasionally having to suppress the cries of my inner-Luddite— that part of my character that's just not satisfied with (or even interested in) the concept of Web-only music acquisition. I've been trying to dig into the root cause of this angst. Just what is it that I'm afraid of?
Part of this was covered not too long ago in a jazz.com blog entry on Record Store Day. One topic only briefly mentioned there was the idea of accidental discovery. You know, you're rummaging through a bin and find a long-lost gem of a record, or maybe something so bizarre you've just got to try it out. Sure, you can pick a clunker that way, but my music radar rarely lets me down.
My inner-Luddite fears that this kind of thing will go away with the Internet. Now, before you blow your top and start tossing MySpace, iTunes and other things my way, you must realize that a large chunk of music will indeed vanish, never making it into the digital realm. What I used to call "Record Album Archeology" will probably cease to exist.
But...that's not what I'm here for. Because in the middle of thinking this through (a process that is in no way complete), I was reminded of an experience I had last spring that will provide a great counterexample—proof that I can actually see the benefits of the new digital world. The following story could not have happened without the existence of the Internet. The question that will be answered: "How did I get from A to Z . . . in which (A) is a piece of music by Brahms, and (Z) is the photo on your left of those pipes?"
A few years ago, I was working on a review of Bennie Maupin's Penumbra. While staring off into space, trying to conjure an appropriate description of Maupin's bass clarinet sound, I remembered a tape I'd made some years earlier of a movement of a Brahms symphony, rendered on solo bass clarinet. The piece was recorded from a radio broadcast of the New Music America Festival and the musician was named David Ocker. Maupin's sound triggered the memory of Ocker's solo work, so the review seemed like a perfect opportunity to intersect the two.
About six months after the Maupin review went live, I received an email with the subject line "seeking mark saleski" from David Ocker. Yes, like most of us (C'mon, you know you do it!) Ocker indulged in a bit of ego-surfing, and that's how he stumbled onto my Maupin review. From there, we had an e-conversation where I learned that Ocker had worked as a copyist and Synclavier programmer for Frank Zappa. He's gone on to work with the likes of John Adams, no longer plays the bass clarinet, shares a birthday with both Bennie Maupin and Charlie Parker, and does all of his composing via software. Eventually, Mr. Ocker sent me a digitized version of the Brahms piece, officially entitled "The Allegro Fourth Movement from the Symphony Number 3 in F Opus 90 by Johannes Brahms by David Ocker." It also turns out that Ocker is into taking what I like to refer to as "oddball" pictures — the kind of photos that, when I've taken them, have mostly earned me worried sideways glances from friends and relatives. I was sort of amazed to click through his gallery, seeing photos that I myself would have taken.
So perhaps I have learned a valuable lesson here. That just maybe the Internet's dominance will not be able to ruin my enjoyment of random artistic discoveries. OK, it might even enhance it. By the way, does that photo remind anybody else of Eric Dolphy's music?
This blog article posted by Mark Saleski.