This is the link to my latest article for Headphone.guru
The details of making Miles Davis's album TuTu..Lots of good stuff!
The Making of TuTu Part 2
This is the link to my latest article for Headphone.guru
Is the Music Connecting Anymore
I spent the last couple of nights catching up on the many CDs and downloads and links that I get. Again this is my personal opinion but I think long and hard about this stuff and I try to bring my life's experiences especially in music into my beliefs. When I listen to music these days especially jazz I am definitely feeling that many of these albums that I am hearing especially by new artists are made for other musicians and not to connect with the audience even though they may not realize this. I go back and I compare the albums that I bought when I was younger. To see the connection that Chick Corea's music from the 1970s had on the audience the other night was to me truly stunning. I always felt with the great albums I can hold on to every note and it would mean something to me. The albums I've been listening to the last few days don't give me any of that.
There is excellent musicianship on many of them. Obviously many that have gone to school to learn have learned great technique and can take it to the max. In the end however that's not what's going to connect and bring audiences into the music. It's the material and the emotion and how that emotion connects with the listener so they make the music a part of their lives. I picked out two albums from my listening that I felt had a connection with me. I'm just saying that when I make music I think about how it connects with real people not other musicians. I'll never forget sitting in the studio with Tommy LiPuma and him reading a bad review of an album he produced. I asked him how he felt about that and he said I don't care how critics feel about, what I do I care about how the real listener cares and right now we're selling albums. we are in a time when it is more important than ever for the music to connect anyway that I possibly can to bring people into the fold so a great scene can be created again. Just the way I'm feeling
Here is a link to my new Column at headphone.guru-Alot of cool things going on there http://headphone.guru/mike-mattison-singer-from-the-tedeschi-trucks-band/
Givers and takers
Everybody writes Long Blogs. 300 words plus. I'm going to just give you food for thought and you can make your own decisions and opinions
Why in this world of give and take are there far more takers than givers? I notice this all the time. If I help someone I don't expect anything back,but appreciation and recognition would be nice
I recently had a phone call from along time friend. I got on the phone and asked "what's up?"He said he just wanted to call and see how I was doing and to say hello. I basically said to myself Nobody does that anymore. I was happy he called as we have along history and we spent an hour catching up. Does anybody really care anymore about each others well being ? Do we go out of our way to help a friend or does it have to be a part of a scheme that involves money or advancement. I'm willing to say it is dwindling down to a precious few.
I'm writing this because of a recent incident that happened. A few years ago I was going to be performing at a noted festival. The promoter asked me who I would have in the band and on the show. Everything was fine and then I mentioned the name of an artist I wanted to get that was going to be difficult and had been out of the scene for awhile. He said "Go for it" I called up the artists agent and he said "I'll ask but i highly doubt it". I said just lay it out explain who I am and lets see how it goes. A couple of days later I got a call from the agent saying "it's amazing but she has agreed to do the shows with you" he was surprised. This artist hadn't really been exposed for a while and I seemlessly fit them into the shows and everything went great. The agent came up to me and said "I want to book a tour and we want you to put together the band and really do what you do. She's very excited"
We do this tour that really goes excellent and we get along great. They want to do it again,we are talking about recording,etc etc and things look up. To cut along story short the artist really wasn't the way they presented themselves. Ego,money and other opportunities made it so once things started to happen everybody mopved me out of the picture for their own benefit. I was left holding the bag and lost out on a very nice 6 figure payday. It didn't matter, everybody else was happy,who cares that Jason and his reputation and hard work helped make this happen,we're doing great and that's all that mattered.
Lets now advance the clock a few years and an opportunity arrives for me and it would be great if for one gig this artist could be a special guest. very easy scenario. I write an email and don't hear anything back. I take the same email and forward it again to the artist and management. The artist answers the email not realizing that I was sent their reply and basically writes to management. a very short and curt not-"tell him I'm busy" then then realized that they wrote to me and tried to cover tracks.
If you in this life does something for someone that truly benefits them you have to go into the situation like you will get screwed,disappointed, and other not so nice things and if by some chance you don't It's a pleasant surprise. I find that when people are in trouble or crisis you are a dear friend. When that passes,it's back to business as usual. This is just some real world experiences and some advice. I try to learn from mistakes but most of the time we never know we are making a mistake when it happens.
So when a friend calls and tells you they want to know how you are doing and wants to catch up and talk about life and other vibes appreciate it because most just want to get what they can get out of you. We're in this by ourselves and the few that truly love us and care. this of course is just my opinion,But in a world of desperation in 2014 anything is possible you have to question everything and every motive.
I just got back from a whrirlwind trip to Ca for the NAMM show. To me it's more of a social event than anything else. Can you really check out gear and really know what's going on in the middle of a couple of hundred thousand people? Its numbing and overwhelming at times. I saw some great old friends and met some new ones. You see in our new days of social media where you may never meet your "friends" NAMM actually brings people from all over the world to be in one place for 4 days and at times it's overwhelming for the senses. There is still something important about meeting people in person and having them get to know you for real. This past weekend I met many who were FB friends and were very kind and gracious when we met. Here are some thoughts. I'm not going to go on forever.
1- It's truly great to see old friends and to still see many of us are still here after so many years. It is also sobering to know that we've also lost many friends. people you would see every year have gone. The Reality of life. That is why if I'm enthusiastic to see you-I really am. It's also great to see people who have really supported my work over the years. Whether you gave me something for an endorsement or a great price, you had confidence in me using your products. I hope I gave something back. Young folks should know to enjoy life but to also know that life flys by-make your decisions work for you. I randomly met some very nice people,they are out there!
2- The musical landscape really is changing with the absolute take over of EDM. There were so many DJ products and so many booths with guys all doing the same thing. We are looking at a market where finally you really don't have to know anything about music. In reality it is a technological evolution but when you see it taking over you say to yourself "is there any value to be a musician and learn ones craft? " It's really interesting how the big companies are still being very generic in what they make. They say they are innovating but they are basically doing refreshes on their instruments with some tweaks.I applaud companies like Dave Smith, Moog, Nord, Arturia (sorry if I forgot one) who march to the beat of their own drummer. They are getting the rewards for being original and building on their strengths. These companies are making it with great products and smart business. I love the Pianos and keyboards that Nord makes,great quality. Dave Smith has let us know that Analog is still the best sounding form of Synthesis. Warm and fat. I also look and see companies I know may not make it because more than anything there is no buzz-Buzz is what it's about at the show
3-Many musicians aren't making a lot of $ these days. The prices for food,water in the convention center are crazy. Enter the food truck,where for $10 you got a great lunch. Individual business owners with a great talent for food are reaping the rewards of their originality.
4-I played some incredible Pianos by Yamaha,Fazzioli. The Yamaha's were stunning. So why am I very upset-I am because there are many artists (myself included) who have put many years into our craft. I sit down at a magnificent instrument and feel like it is talking to me. I then realize that in my lifetime I will probably not be able to afford an instrument like this. One that truly inspires. The companies don't care they make it for the elite who have the $. I'm sure some concert halls and a few can afford them but I'm also sure some very wealthy people who can't play buy it for decoration in their homes. This is my negative comment and if I am bitter it is about a subject like this. It is hard to take,especially after you have sat at one of these instruments and played them.
5-Talking about pianos-There are some killer,virtual pianos out there. I saw some great Physical modeling programs and a few hardware pieces that are truly amazing. The computer has opened up so many possibilities. The virtual orchestras available are truly stunning. if you spend the time you can really pull the orchestra off. The sonics are amazing
6-It seems like everybody is making beats. Are there that many possibilities to make new beats or are they just recycling grooves with new sounds?
7-It always amazes me how many musicians just sit at an instrument and start to play music with so many notes to flash their chops,whether it's drums or piano,guitar-do they think they are getting discovered at The Namm show?
8-It seems like there is always a tilt towards Rock at the show. From Drums to guitar-why doesn't rock music have a bigger place in the American music scene these days?It used to rule!! it is a fiber of American music. Where are the guitar heros? I really think for that music to take over that is what we are going to need-real guitar hereos.
9-I looked around and said-"do all these people make a living playing music or in a music related business ?". There are so many really great musicians around-Is there going to be work for them in the future?
10-Some observations on California life- Sushi in California-awesome! Fresh salads-The best! The Weather -I love it- I do however have some serious thoughts about the true quality of life for some. It took me 2 1/2 hours on the 405 to get from Santa Monica to Costa Mesa. I think someone who does that everyday without car pooling needs lo re-evaluate how they are living life-Such a stress. I have been on the 405 many times during the last 30 years,but one can watch their life just drift away traveling this road everyday. It is stressful and painful. In a city like NYC you are moving masses of people around on subways buses but on the 405 you are moving huge masses of metal running on fossil fuels with basically one person per car. This was an eye opener for me. I would also say that parents should tell their kids the downside of tattoos.They look great when you are young and tight but nobody stays young (physically) forever and after seeing some 50-60+ with tattoos I can't help but think about living with some of the decisions we make when we are young. Saw a lot of these folks this past weekend
11 - I don't know when I'll make it back to the NAMM show but i never stop learning from these experiences
The Real World
In my world my observations come from real life experiences.Real Friendship is not a one way street. If You think that business and friendship aren't intertwined you better understand that it doesPeace, Jason
Keepin It Fresh
I have never been happy being at the same musical place. I've always searched out new styles,music,players. I believe it was because I grew up at a time in NYC when there was so many different kinds of amazing music happening. It's just been a natural progression for me. Sometimes however you pay the price for that. The first thing as a producer,artist,musician you don't want to be is pidgeonholed. Even though you may get the recognition over the years it will get tiresome and inhibit ones ability to grow. I have really noticed that about a number of artists when I hear their current and past work. So many have been stuck in the same place making the same album for years. Yeah the songs may be a bit different but their style and forward movement has them running in place. For every innovator we have 1 million who don't grow either as an artist, producer etc. Go on Itunes, Spotify-It's there in front of us. So what is this and why? The reasons are too many and every artist thinks they are the s..t and people should be following them. very few however can really back that up.They also reach a comfort zone and don't think it's necessary to try new vibes
I have been following Chcik Corea for over 40 years. I didn't understand some of his earlier more free and avant guard music-But it had something. He went and played with Miles,RTF and you know the rest. I can't say I love all the music he has done but he is always probing and finding that next space. I recently saw he formed a new band called The Vigil. I've heard nothing but great things about them. Here is Chcik at 71 (?) and still innovating and looking for new things,when many of his peers are still playing the same music,same shows and making the same albums they've been making for years with no or little variations. That is inspiring to me. It goes beyond even liking the music. It goes into the fact he still believes there is more to learn and more musicians to play with. He was recently at several clubs with this band. Not big concert halls but clubs,trying it out nightly on the bandstand. That is the way you grow. I'd love for one day to not give a s..t and call out the many who stay in the same place and don't encourage the audience to grow their taste even though they have the power to do it.
Over the years I've heard that calling and one day when I'm no longer here maybe someone will say-Jason Miles-He always was doing interesting and excellent music and wasn't scared to try something new. If that is a legacy to leave then I will feel good knowing I made the most of what talent I had and knowing that I wanted to take the audience on that special ride when you discover new music that has an effect on your life and spirit
I always pay attention to the future. You have to live today,no one is promised tomorrow. As I get older I'm seeing many great friends both musical and personal leave us. It sobers you up. In one sense you'd like to take some cash jump on the plane and go to Hawaii for a couple of weeks. In another sense you look towards the future and wonder what it's going to bring to you,so you are cautious. I remember making a great living in the studios of the world and saying to myself" This will change one day.Am I prepared?" I saw the coming of digital,the end of the studio scene and knew my next move was taking control and being a producer. It took awhile to take shape because nobody gives you a shot. You have to figure out the shot.I feel that as long as I'm aware and not doing anything stupid,I have a chance to make this balancing act happen.
Now we get to the music business. Forget about the record business. it hasn't found it's way yet. That may still be a ways off,but what about the real future-The Artists. I started to look up the age of some of the biggest names and legacy artists. The good news is many are still here. The bad news-time is marching on and many artists are really getting older. everything is cool for the moment but in 10 years artists that were the cornerstones of the music scene may not be performing or unfortunately alive. Paul McCartney, The Stones, The Eagles, Herbie Hancock, The members of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Paul Simon,you get the picture. Many jazz festrivals and clubs have lost money as they were making money with artists like Michael Brecker, Joe Zawinul, Oscar Peterson etc. Promoters aren't working to help build new acts and artists for the future. I noticed it in Japan where the wonderful music fan in Japan loves american legacy artists.But many are leaving-what happens to the essence of the music business.. Who can really sustain a tour,sell out halls,arenas, stadiums. Have we built the scene for the future-I don't think so. Time is a mutha f..ker. It stands still for no-one. I would never think I'd be talking about this 30 years ago but now here we are. Live for today-enjoy your life and the people you have around it-But keep your eye on the future-We can't totally be ready for it but discussion of what is going to happen in this business in 10 years is worth preparation and discussion.
When it's late at night and I really need to wind down I watch mindless TV. You have to give your head a break sometimes and filling it with non essential information is a good way to chill and let your brain drift toward sleep. The last couple of nights though really got me thinking because the mindless TV was making me think too hard. Years ago to be a celebrity you really had to have something going on..Like being a real movie star or music icon or just someone a bit above everybody else in your visibility to the public. I remember standing in line with John Lennon at the Sutton Theater on east 57th street -Feb 1974 to see Blazing Saddles. That was a moment!. Now you have the new culture of celebrity. I will call it "Niche Celebrity". You have all of these cable channels and all of these shows. If your face is on one of them you're a celebrity. How I got to this was watching TMZ the other night. One of the segments was
"We saw xxxxx coming out of Boa steak house in LA". Someone says-Who is he? The response was "he is on a show about repossessing cars on True TV" I was blown away!!. i shouldn't be. You're getting attention because you reposes cars and it's shown on TV (after going to On Demand and looking at the show I could see it was totally staged!!) There are shows on towing,parking cars, digging for gold,lumber jacks, modeling,cooking,pawn shops and even real TV shows about crime etc on dozens of TV channels. Now we are creating thousands of "niche celebrities" and they actually believe they are important.
The bar is very low out there and for this to happen it has to be because people are bored and watch way to much TV and gravitate to in some cases a lower denominator. There are some people I do Admire-The Deadliest Catch blows me away. These are real men and they work an incredibly dangerous job-but then flip over and you get The Bad Girls Club-crazy ass chicks who want to kill each other all living in the same house. The ratings are really big.
So it's all about reality or the phony reality celebrities that are created by this environment. Years ago we had B movie stars and television stars who we felt were a part of our lives. Now we're in the instant society and instant celebrity.You can be instant if you video goes viral. Ok,where does my rant end? it ends with the fact that it may get worse before it gets better. Alot of the public likes crap on a daily level. They will want to see it more extreme as the years go by. who knows the next thing could be using real bullets on shows-we're headed in that direction. Now excuse me while I go "like " the repossessing guys Face Book page.