Archive for 2009-04

The Ox

02009-04-30 @ 13:04

The Ox

Wednesday Rehearsal

02009-04-29 @ 19:04


Rode the Mariachi Bullitt, loaded with my guitar and a bag, to Atlas for a workout and then to Jon’s studio for a rehearsal with the quintet. Band sounded great, a very nice step forward from the last tour. Now that everyone knows the music well, we can work on improving the arrangements and that’s what we did.

Rode home in the afternoon and did a phone interview with the Easthampton Press for our concert at the Westhampton PAC in May.

The dates for Autumn in Germany are firm now – all solo:

Oct 03 – München, Germany – Carl Orff Saal
Oct 04 – Leipzig, Germany – Spiegelpalast
Oct 06 – Berlin, Germany – Kleine Arena Tempodrom
Oct 07 – Hamburg, Germany – Stage Club
Oct 08 – Hanover, Germany – Markuskirche
Oct 09 – Köln, Germany – Kulturkirche

Go here to see links to the venues. There will be three to four shows in Italy and Austria before Jon and I roll into Munich.

Current reading: The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin. After reading about Inspector Shan in Tibet (here, here, here and here) and Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep in Bangkok (here), I am now reading about the eunuch Yashim Togalu investigating crime in Istanbul in 1836. Lovely, to be entertained while learning something about foreign places. At one point Yashim makes a paste out of walnuts and garlic that he puts on fish. I want to try that with tofu or grilled chicken.

If you have to push helmets for bicyclists… at least do it like this. :-)

Please remember to add friends@ottmarliebert.com to your email-address book as I will be sending out a new password for May this week. Wouldn’t want to lose the password in your spam filter.

Autumn – Solo

02009-04-29 @ 14:04

Oct 03 – München, Germany – Carl Orff Saal
Oct 04 – Leipzig, Germany – Spiegelpalast
Oct 06 – Berlin, Germany – Kleine Arena Tempodrom
Oct 07 – Hamburg, Germany – Stage Club
Oct 08 – Hanover, Germany – Markuskirche
Oct 09 – Köln, Germany – Kulturkirche

Go here to see links to the venues. There will be three to four shows in Italy and Austria before Jon and I roll into Munich.

Six Degrees of Grillo

02009-04-28 @ 12:04

After hearing the duet between Stephen Duros and Jason McGuire, I googled Jason McGuire and found a whole bunch of YouTube videos featuring him. Some of the videos showed performances of a group that included Jose Blanco. Ring a bell?

Jose “El Grillo” Blanco sang our Spanish version of “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” on the album The Hours Between Night + Day. Did I tell you the story about those lyrics? Well, we contacted Sony Mexico about a Spanish version of Marvin Gaye’s lyrics, assuming that somebody must already covered that great song. We didn’t get a definite answer until the day Grillo arrived at the studio in Santa Barbara – no, there is no Spanish version, none.

In the evening I welcomed Grillo to the studio, showed him around and gave him the news. I also gave him a printout of the original English lyrics, a copy of the music we had recorded, a bottle of vino tinto, a pad of paper and a pen and asked him to write the Spanish version.

The next morning Grillo arrived with Spanish lyrics and sang what you hear on the album.

I always felt the song should have been serviced to latin radio, but Sony/Epic did not agree with me. It received some airplay from radio stations that listened to the album, but it could have been much more. Anyway, I still enjoy our version a lot.

So, sixteen years later Stevo records a piece with Jason, who peforms with Grillo.

Music

02009-04-28 @ 12:04

Here is an example of the music available at Ottmar-Friends:

Audio MP3

That’s a recording we made at our first rehearsal with new drummer Michael Chavez. Subscribers get to download a high quality 320kbps mp3 version. I started out thinking I would offer one or two tracks per month, but we are already up to 11 downloads in two month. They are mostly 320kbps mp3s, but there is also a 24 bit 96kHz aiff file for audiophiles.

Monday I presented to the subscribers a new mix I am working on, a unreleased and unnamed bossa recorded during the sessions for The Hours Between Night + Day in the Spring of 1993. It’s a lovely bossa with a nice koto solo by Osamu Kitajima, but a CD can only handle about 74 minutes of music and The Hours Between Night + Day was packed full and tight.

Monday Music

02009-04-27 @ 06:04

Today’s piece is a unreleased and unnamed bossa from 1993. It was recorded during the sessions for The Hours Between Night + Day in Santa Barbara, California. I started working on this mix yesterday evening and consider this a rough mix, but I wanted to share it with you. I am not sure I’ll be able to completely finish the mix before we leave on tour, but imagine I will present it to you at the end of May sometime. I have no notes from the sessions, but it sounds like the musicians were:

OL – guitars
Jon Gagan – upright Bass, synthesizer + piano (listen for the unison between upright bass and piano about two thirds into the piece)
Davo Bryant – kick drum + dumbek
Mark Clark – percussion effects
Osamu Kitajima – koto

Audio MP3

Download the high quality 320kbps file here.

About Sound

02009-04-24 @ 13:04

Let’s assume we want a stereo setup. Let’s also assume you have found speakers you love, a pre-amp and a power amp. Let’s say we won’t use a CD player – so last century. Here is what you want (((I know I want it))):

Weiss DAC2 D/A Converter – made in Switzerland. Look at it, it recalls Helvetica, speaks of handmade precision… and looks expensive in that small edition audiophile way. Yes, but you won’t need a CD-player!! The Weiss DAC2 is a Digital-to-Analog converter that connects to your computer via FireWire and turns zeros-and-ones into delicious analog sound, parsing anything from 16/44.1 to 24/192. Your audiophile super system will only consist of a computer with FireWire output, the Weiss DAC2, and whatever amplification you choose, that is, a nice headphone amp and cans (((studio slang for headphones))) or pre-amp, power-amp (((or one that combines the two))) and a pair of loudspeakers.

What I find most attractive about this setup is that one can have a very high-end sound system using only three or four relatively portable components: a laptop, the Weiss DAC2 and a headphone amp + headphones. Nice!

About headphones:
There is the STAX SRS-4040II Signature System II for $1,775, which includes Ear-speakers and a wonderful vacuum-tube-low-noise-Class-A-DC-amplifier. I listened to STAX for the first time in Köln in the early Eighties, while visiting my parents. I bought my first STAX system around 1997, I think, and have used it on every mix since.

I must say I am really liking the Ultrasone PRO 900 I found on Amazon for $130 off – $469 is still a lot of money, but…

By the way I am going to modify my Pro 900s, because they come with two cables – both unfortunately with 1/4″ plugs – and a 1/4 to 3.5 mini plug converter that is HUGE. I am very careful about inserting the giant converter into my iPhone, but it seems like trouble waiting to happen. That’s why I ordered a gold-plated Neutrik NTP3RC-B Plug 3.5mm Right Angle for $6 and will soder it to one of the two cables that come with the headphones. Then I can use one cable for 1/4″ plugs and the other one for mini plugs, which are on all portable players and computers.

Then there are these Sony Headphones ($70), a true workhorse. And, for something more discreet, for walking around for example or or for the stage – this is what we wear during our concerts – there are the Shure SCL5CL earphones ($350).

What do you get from the Stax or Ultrasones that won’t get from the Sonys? Clarity, space, more definition, better imaging, maybe one could say it’s like watching HDTV instead of a VHS tape.

One last thing about headphones and loudspeakers. Our ears are all different and since the shape of the ears is so instrumental in creating what we hear, headphones are not for everyone, and not every set of headphones works with every set of ears. If you had, say, large ears that stand out quite a bit, you might find that some headphones force your ears back and that might not sound good to you or could be uncomfortable. Your ears are meant for loudspeakers, maybe, or a different headphone design.

I have always enjoyed headphones. Headphones are as introverted as a boombox on one’s shoulder in the Eighties was extroverted…

Thanks for the tip about the Ultrasone headphones, James!

Friday-Atlas

02009-04-24 @ 12:04


My cherry tree waited until after the snow fall last weekend to begin blossoming.

My brother’s new Pilates studio in Santa Fe. I am training with him regularly. I have been doing Pilates since 1997 and have worked with half a dozen different trainers and Stefan is the best, no question. The studio is great and very thoughtfully put together, comfortable and as organic as possible.

Today we worked out to Bloom – Brian Eno’s iPhone/iPod Touch appliction that generates music. Perfect background, soft, non-rhythmic sounds that feel like a field, not music…

Atlas Pilates
825-D Early Street
Santa Fe NM 87505

The phone number is on the door…

Atlas

02009-04-24 @ 11:04


My cherry tree waited until after the snow fall last weekend to begin blossoming.

My brother’s new Pilates studio in Santa Fe. I am training with him regularly. I have been doing Pilates since 1997 and have worked with half a dozen different trainers and Stefan is the best, no question. The studio is great and very thoughtfully put together, comfortable and as organic as possible.

Today we worked out to Bloom – Brian Eno’s iPhone/iPod Touch appliction that generates music. Perfect background, soft, non-rhythmic sounds that feel like a field, not music…

Atlas Pilates
825-D Early Street
Santa Fe NM 87505
The phone number is on the door…

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

02009-04-24 @ 11:04

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate – NYTimes.com
For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

Little Stuff

02009-04-23 @ 12:04

I didn’t like the Ultrasone headphones when I first listened to them on Tuesday afternoon. Since I had read that they need to be burned in for a while in order to develop nice bass – it’s very flabby and overwhelming at the beginning – I left them running for several hours and had iTunes pump a random selection of music through them. Yesterday evening they started to sound quite nice.

People are a like old oak tables. Knives cut into the table accidentally, sharp object are dropped on it, liquids are spilled on it and it may become either more beautiful because of that… or useless. It’s in the way we carry our scars that makes us appear beautiful or ugly.

Rode my fixie to my breakfast-klatsch with Jon. It’s almost perfect, as it silently glides along… the handlebar should be about 2 inches higher. Will have to investigate options with David @ Mellow Velo.

Was driving my car the other day, maybe Monday, and a thought came into my mind. In the car it felt like beautiful, if ephemeral thought, or maybe more like a feeling… After I came home, I could not express it well. I wrote some of it down anyway:

Happy, sad or enlightened? There are millions of books on those three subjects. I doubt that they are very useful, really. The old oak table needs to be aged and patinated (((I had to look that verb up!!))) in order to shine… A lot of people assume that happiness or enlightenment should be a permanent all-encompassing state. In fact, doesn’t the brain always look for some kind of permanence, something that does not change… or it defers permanence to the future – and if it can’t find anything permanent in this lifetime, it may find it in its next lifetime or in the afterlife – depending on your religious preference.

We have discovered that there is no such thing as one measure of intelligence. There are many levels and lines of intelligence. Math intelligence, emotional intelligence… a person might score off-the-chart on a Western intelligence test and might be unfit to tie their shoes, not to mention being able to hold a conversation. Having accepted that there are many, many different lines of intelligence, we should accept that happiness and enlightenment are similar, not a permanent state, but an opening that has many levels and can always be deepened. I heard Stephen Batchelor say Enlightened about WHAT exactly? Or, there are so many different lines and levels of enlightenment – which of them are you talking about?

Or take happiness – isn’t happiness just a way to accept what is here anyway. Otherwise happy would change a million times a day. They kept you on hold too long when you called the phone company, somebody cut you off in traffic, your cellphone fell between your car’s pedals etc. etc…

And that reminded me of this. Long-time meditators, monks even, have been known to fall apart at the sight of a woman, or alcohol or drugs. They had advanced very far along one particular line, but had not advanced at all along others?

Happiness and sadness seem only skin-deep with most of us. When we win, when things go our way, we are happy. A few drops of rain and some bad news and we are sad. Above the clouds the sky is always the same. White clouds, dark clouds, a storm or a clear sky… above it the sky is always blue.

Anyway, it is interesting that all of those words are merely a bad interpretation of a little feeling or thought that probably lasted a few seconds.

This afternoon: soundcheck for a private performance that Jon and I are doing this evening. We decided on upright bass and my Flamenca negra. It’s a wonderful rumble, when he bows the beast!

Failed Starbucks

02009-04-23 @ 06:04

History – Samovarlife
Per the request of the City of San Francisco, Samovar Tea Lounge Yerba Buena opened April, 2006, enlivening the shuttered and defunct space that had housed a failed Starbucks. Samovar Yerba Buena is a garden oasis, resting above an urban waterfall in the heart of the city. Nested beneath the city’s skyscrapers, Samovar satisfies downtown workers, tourists, and convention-goers with an escape from the city’s frenzy.

…enlivening the shuttered and defunct space that had housed a failed Starbucks.
Nice!
Locations

Miranda

02009-04-22 @ 20:04

What is this? It’s neither Monday nor Friday and it’s not my music. Here Stephen Duros and Jason McGuire play Stephen’s song Miranda:

Audio MP3

Stevo says it’s OK to download the high quality mp3 here.

Two Races

02009-04-22 @ 08:04

In Rome:

Rome’s 2762nd Birthday Chariot Race at Urban Velo
A patriotic group of bikers sporting giallo e rosso (yellow and red) athletic gear cleverly transformed their bicycles into race horses that pulled bigas, or two-wheeled chariots, manned by enthusiastic charioteers. While ancient Roman chariot teams were divided by color into the greens, the blues, the whites, and the yellows, these modern day Ben-Hurs formed two teams distinguished by their headgear–the helmet heads and the brush heads. Eager for a bit of Sunday-morning competition, they lined up at one end of the Circus and at the signal, the race for glory and fame began!

In Copenhagen:

Copenhagenize.com – Danish Cargo Bike Championships

Anyway, the Danish Cargo Bike Championships was a festive affair in bright spring sunshine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cargo bikes gathered in one place. The course was set up around the square with a fine mix of smooth straights and cobblestoned corners.

There was a race for three-wheelers, with Leif Harup on a Kangaroo taking the gold medal and the three-wheeled glory. Then there was several heats for two-wheelers and Thorsten Rentel beat Hans Fogh by a spoke in the final. In both disciplines the riders rode first without cargo and then had to put three tyres on the bikes to finish.

There were many Bullitts from Larry vs. Harry, a good number of Dutch Bakfiets and quite a few Belinkys. Add to that Christiania Bikes, Longjohns, Short Johns and the aforementioned Kangaroo. Baisikeli was present with one of their ambulance bikes from their African workshops.

More Sound Advice

02009-04-22 @ 07:04

Sound Advice 010
Sound Advice 011

Miranda

02009-04-21 @ 17:04

Check out Stephen Duros, playing his song Miranda in duet with Jason McGuire:

Audio MP3

You can find the original album version in the LL and where downloads are sold – iTunes, Amazon etc.

For bookings contact Stephen.

Reading

02009-04-21 @ 09:04

I am already on the third installment of John Burdett’s Bangkok series, a book called Bangkok Haunts – I am reading the Kindle version on the free Kindle for iPhone application. In what seems to me typical Thai fashion the book is able to move effortlessly between violence, sex and spirituality. Here is a snippet from a conversation between the main character of the book, a cop in Krung Thep, and a monk:

Saved? There is nothing to save, my friend. You cannot caste yourself into the Unknowable in the hope that gesture will buy you salvation – you have to jump for the hell of it. In a nirvanic universe there can be no salvation because we are never really lost – or found. The choice is simply between nirvana and ignorance. That is the adult truh the Buddha urges upon us. We are the sum of our burning. No burning, no being.

When I traveled in Asia for a year, a long time ago, I was constantly amazed and delighted by the ability of so many people (((seemed like everybody was able to do that))) to switch from the mundane to the spiritual and back in no time at all. Spirituality is not reserved for a fixed hour per week, but is constantly present and referenced.

Tuesday Music

02009-04-21 @ 08:04

Still no answer from Bias/Peak, so I used the free Audacity application. Nice application and you can’t beat the price! Highly recommended.

Here is my rough mix of Kites Over the Playa, made right after I recorded my guitar parts – presented here with Matthew’s permission. You can find the final version on Matthew Schoenings beautiful album The Art of Live Looping – available from his website and our ListeningLounge.

Audio MP3

You can download the high quality 320kbps file here.

And yes, the title was inspired by Matt’s visit to Burning Man.

Monday Geese

02009-04-20 @ 16:04

On Saturday morning three inches of snow lay wet and heavy on the table outside, but by the afternoon all had melted. My brother came by and told of wrestling equipment during the snowstorm on Friday, rather large machines called Reformers used in Pilates training that had arrived unexpectedly. I especially enjoyed his description of the sounds around his new Pilates studio:

From my left neighbor I can sometimes hear Yoga-chanting, in the back I hear “Dropping in” and then whosh-whosh (((a room with a half-pipe, dedicated to teaching skating))) and on the right is an aikido studio with people screaming and large bodies falling to the ground…

Yes, I will have to bring my 722 recorder and some microphones to Stefan’s new Pilates studio to record the sounds when I go training there!!!

Poem of the day via Weekly Words of Wisdom:

The Wild Geese
Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
– Wendell Berry

My laptop came back from Apple this morning, repaired and empty. I do like the AppleCare service. And thanks to SuperDuper (((the most important software for your Macintosh!))), I have the computer already loaded with all of the junk I need. Unfortunately now I can’t use the Peak Pro application because their stupid authorization is foiled by the fact that it does not recognize the new logicboard. We should sell music this way… the whole world would go crazy!!! No, you can’t play that song, your authorizartion has expired. You have to send us an email and request a new authorization.

The result is that there won’t be Monday music, but hopefully there will be Tuesday music!

Did you know that Federico Garcia Lorca wrote two poems entitled Canción de Jinete?

One is called Canción de Jinete (1860). What does 1860 stand for?

Canción de Jinete(1860) Song of the Rider(1860)

En la luna negra In the black moon
de los bandoleros, of the highwaymen
cantan las espuelas. the spurs sing.
Caballito negro Little black horse
¿Dónde llevas tu jinete muerto? Where are you taking your dead rider?
…Las duras espuelas …The hard spurs
del bandido inmóvil of the motionless bandit
que perdió las riendas. who lost his reins.
Caballito frío. Little cold horse.
¡Qué perfume de flor de cuchillo! What a scent of knife-blossom!
En la luna negra, In the black moon
sangraba el costado bled the mountain-side
de Sierra Morena. of Sierra Morena.

You can find the rest here. The other poem by the same name can be found here. This is a wonderful line:

¡Qué perfume de flor de cuchillo! What a scent of knife-blossom!

What a scent of knife-flower!

You know already that this is the poem that inspired me to name the band Luna Negra, yes?

Winter is back

02009-04-18 @ 07:04

Winter is back for a day or two and Casa Monte Frio is under 3 inches of white stuff. Piñon branches are bending down in greeting, heavy with wet snow. But it is April and green blades of sturdy Southwest grass are peeking through the sparkling white blanket, which will melt in record time now that the sun glares down from a blue-bue sky.

They say spring has come
and the sky is filled with mist,
Yet on the mountains, no flowers, only snow.

– Ryōkan

 


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