This is the first in a series of free music posts under the title "Free Music Lunch". Throughout the series I’ll be highlighting Open Music projects and independent artists that offer original music in various flavours of free. Most of the music will be available under copyleft licenses such as Creative Commons and some works will be in the public domain. This is music you can explore on a deeper level, unconstrained by DRM and conventional copyright restrictions. In some cases, permission will be granted by the copyright holder to sample, remix and mashup the music.
The raw ingredients
Don’t expect hype about the latest free tracks from major record labels, or highly polished studio productions, that’s not what this series is about. The focus is on independent, grassroots music creation; involving low budgets, accessible technologies, recycled culture and creative thinking.
As we discover the artists, their music and creative processes, we will also become aware of the tools they use to create and communicate. Observing the anatomy of digital music sharing will hopefully lead us to discover more new music and learn about the art of participation.
Don’t mention the J. word
In light of the decision to scrap the award for best jazz act in this years MOBO awards (aah, the sweet smell of commercialism), it seems only fitting to bring to the table, some new music with strong jazz influences. The Music of Black Origin awards have courted controversy before and it’s sadly ironic, that jazz musicians have to protest outside the Royal Albert Hall venue to make their voice heard. Jazz is, after all, at the heart of just about all black popular music. Last year the important stylistic origin, Gospel, was rested, perhaps next year it will be Reggae or another serious genre.
However, controversy brings attention and in a live TV broadcast from outside the venue, where jazz musicians were playing music in the streets, MOBO founder Kanya King MBE, lightheartedly mentioned how the situation was helping protesters to raise the profile of jazz music. No doubt the musicians had a slightly colder perspective of events. Given the popularity and demand for live jazz music in London, the MOBO decision is difficult to understand. Was the jazz catagory dropped due to the restrictions of broadcasting time and prioritizing for an intended audience? Are the Mobos good for black music?
"In 2005 the London Jazz Festival reached over 60,000 concert-goers with 206 groups playing 165 events in 35 venues, presenting a fantastic programme of new commissions, special projects, education work and premieres. Across the capital the Festival achieved more sold out shows and rave reviews across more venues than ever before. Furthermore live broadcasts and recordings by BBC Radio 3 – which reaches over two million listeners every week – enabled a nationwide audience to enjoy the incredible music-making that occurred throughout this year’s Festival both on air and online." Serious.org.uk
The 2006 London Jazz Festival runs from Friday 10 to Sunday 19 November.
Food for thought …
"Whether right or wrong, …imagination is shaped by the pictures seen… Consequently, they lead to stereotypes that are hard to shake." Walter Lippmann, (Public Opinion, 1922, 95-156) via Wikipedia Stereotyping.
"It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf." Walter Lippmann Wikiquote
And so, in support of the free spirit of jazz and liberal copyleft tradition, here are some open music projects and downloads where jazz is still a main ingredient.
Free Music Lunch 01 – Menu
- Revolution Void – collaborative nu-jazz releases
- Lucky 7’s – modern jazz septet
- Open Music Factory – independent musicians community
- Heritage – Prince Albert Hunt’s Texas Ramblers – Public Domain 4U
- Jazz Juice – free music download sources
Revolution Void Records is a netlabel run by jazz pianist and electronic music producer Jonah Dempcy. The label puts out remixes, collaborations and original music, by Jonah’s Revolution Void project and other artists, in styles such as downtempo, electronic jazz (nu-jazz) and instrumental hiphop. Jonah uses Creative Commons licenses which make it easy for people to share and promote his work. Here’s a video on YouTube which uses his track Weekend Amnesia as the soundtrack to episode 1 of Father Underground Returns.
The latest offering from Revolution Void is a 10 track instrumental album titled Thread Soul. It was released on 7-25-2006 under a Creative Commons Attrib-NonCommercial license which allows users to freely modify and distribute the album, for non-commercial purposes only.
"Whereas Increase the Dosage had a slew of guest musicians including Seamus Blake (Mingus Big Band), Matthew Garrison (Herbie Hancock) and Michael Shrieve (Santana), Thread Soul focuses more on grooves and soundscapes than live improvisation. Nevertheless, Thread Soul contains its fair share of jazz improvisation, thanks to guest performances by bassist Lucas Pickford (Brian Blade) and saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum (Fred Wesley, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress). The end result is a mix of midtempo breakbeats, instrumental hiphop and ambient electronic with a penchant for jazz improvisation."
You can also get Revolution Void albums and lots more jazz via Jamendo. Their streaming music widget lets you share albums directly on your webpage.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jonah’s piano technique, check out his informative CastPost blog. You can play audio and video recordings on jazz music and jazz lessons.
Lucky 7’s are a septet of musicians from the New Orleans and Chicago Jazz scenes. This is modern, improvisational Jazz, with a traditional acoustic sound. The lineup includes drums, double bass, vibes, trombone and tuba, cornet, tenor sax and bass clarinet. They have some free mp3 downloads available under a Creative Commons Music Sharing License.
Open Music Factory
The Open Music Factory is an independent musicians community where you can find all types of musical projects. Musicians collaborate by using the forums to communicate and post audio files which can be hosted at the Internet Archive or elsewhere. The site advises:
Before sharing any original sound recording on the net, never forget to upload it to Creative Commons.
That gives you a good anti-piracy protection on your creations.
You can do this by using the ccPublisher tool. For information about copyrights, including CC licenses, see the forum section for Artists Protection. Other collaborative communities also use CC licenses, notably ccMixter and NINJAM (more on these in the future – here’s a link to dozens of ccMixter projects tagged Jazz).
There are currently several collaborations at the Open Music Factory featuring strong jazz influences. You can find all the projects in the section for Open Music Collaborations.
It’s interesting to watch the ideas develop over time and you can track the changing versions by reading through the comments in each project thread. The influence of jazz is often seen in online collaborations where the role of improvisation and riffing on ideas comes to the fore.
Two 4/4 percussion parts at 85 bpm in MP3 and OGG formats. No rights reserved – CC – public domain.
You can find more jazzy breaks and samples at Freesound.
It’s impossible to talk about jazz without mentioning the blues, so here’s something to wet your appetite…
Prince Albert Hunt’s Texas Ramblers – Blues In The Bottle (March 28, 1928) Duration: 3:26. Download and stream via the Internet Archive.
Recorded on March 28, 1928 in San Antonio, Texas. This recording is considered one of the first of what would be later categorized as "Western" or "Texas" Swing, popularized later by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. The style is a unique amalgam of blues, ragtime, jazz and old time fiddle music. Michelle Shocked claims that Prince Albert Hunt chose to live "on the wrong side of the tracks." He was shot to death outside of a Dallas bar in March of 1931.
Public Domain 4U Has a collection of around eighty, early blues recordings, converted to MP3 format. These are public domain recordings that are free to download and share.
Sources of freshly squeezed jazz, 100% pure copyleft .
- 15 Megs of Fame – Songs in Jazz is a catalog of blues/jazz pieces free to share under a Creative Commons music sharing license.
- ActoGuitar and Berklee Shares offer free music lessons under Creative Commons licenses.
- Dogmazic Jazz has a growing catalog of CC licensed jazz recordings for download in MP3 and Ogg formats. There are also thousands of streaming audio channels.
- Internet Archive Jazz Search provides access to a huge collection of free media files and CC/public domain materials.
- Magnatune Jazz Podcast listen to artists on the Magnatune netlabel.
- Oddio Overplay – Super Sound Sites use the search engine to find jazz related projects.
- Opsound: Genre jazz podcast on Odeo listen to experimental/electronic artists from the Opsound Community. The Odeo widget can be embedded in webpages.
- Open Media Directory explore dozens of music and video sites, many of which offer jazz related music.
- Remix Commons Jazz find unusual mixes under CC licenses.
- SoundClick CC License search the musicians community for free jazz music.
- Starfrosch Jazz get the latest free mp3 downloads from musicians and netlabels using copyleft licenses.
The music mentioned in this post is generally podsafe, however, you should check individual licenses before using content in webcasts.
- BBC – MOBO Awards 2006
- Rowolo Netlabel List a source of websites offering free music releases.
- Western Union to Sponsor MOBOs
- Wikipedia Free jazz provides info about the term and goes some way to explaining what free jazz isn’t.
- Wikipedia List of Independent Record Labels and Netlabels