Blues in C minor 7

A nightly idea gathering / recording, which I also used for this thread on the German-speaking forum:

ardour-calf-desktop from Wolfgang Lonien on Vimeo.

Played on the guitar you can see in my last post, I used this video for demonstration purposes.

It shows that you can record music with Linux, and free and open source software.

Gear used:

  • Yamaha Eterna classical guitar
  • Røde NT-1a microphone
  • Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 2nd gen. audio interface
  • Debian Linux 9 “Stretch”
  • KXStudio repositories
  • Ardour 5.10 digital audio workstation
  • some of the Calf plugins
  • simplescreenrecorder

The video is in FullHD on Vimeo.

Oh, and the music builds on “Footprints” from Wayne Shorter – same chords and 3/4 structure used.

Thanks for viewing.

Forq at North Sea Jazz 2015

I listened to some Forq stuff in the GroundUp Youtube channel, but until now it left me relatively cold compared to Snarky Puppy. But this is awesome – Forq in Rotterdam proved to be a really good live band:


Bob Reynolds Guitar Band

After Bill Laurance, Forq, Banda Magda, and Bokanté, here’s another offspring from Snarky Puppy:

This is Bob Reynolds with his Bob Reynolds Guitar Band, recorded live at the Blue Whale Jazz Club in Los Angeles, California, on January 21, 2016. These are:

Bob Reynolds – tenor saxophone & compositions (from Snarky)
Nir Felder – electric guitar
Mark Lettieri – electric guitar (from Snarky)
Kaveh Rastegar – electric bass guitar
Robert “Sput” Searight – drums (from Snarky)

I haven’t seen anything less than awesome from any of the Snarky Puppy band members, and it includes this one. That said, my favourite piece after first listening is probably “Crush” (recording 3 out of 6), with a really epic guitar solo from Nir Felder. And I also like the bass playing from Kaveh Rastegar. Like I said, awesome – have to buy that one as well.

Here is Bob’s website, and his bandcamp site where you can buy stuff. Cannot wait to see more of him on his vlog on Youtube as well.

Oh, and Bass Musician Magazine has a nice article on the just released Bokanté recording. I commented one of their Youtube videos with something like “anything you do seem to be great” – and I mean it.

Have fun. And if you like it, support these musicians, and buy their stuff instead of just looking at / listening to streams. It helps them doing what they’re doing, and in my opinion, the world would be terrible without good music (or any arts for that matter).

Thanks for reading / watching.

Music, videos, and computers

Last Sunday, Zuleikha played piano together with some of her classmates of the piano teacher’s class at the local sports hall. Mitchie took it on video, and I recorded the piano (a nice sounding Yamaha Grand) with my Røde microphone, the Focusrite interface, and the company notebook (a Lenovo Thinkpad P50 running the IBM Open Client for the Debian Community, which is currently based upon Ubuntu 16.04 LTS).

Then I used every minute I could to learn new (to me) programs like Cinelerra.

In the end we’ve got a nice sounding movie with all the kids playing, and I also learned how to use fader automation in Ardour (tools like these weren’t even available while I was in the studios during my youth). Cool stuff, and the highlight for me personally was Zuleikha performing one of her own compositions – even some of the other kids were quite impressed by that. Cannot show the whole video here, but I’ll ask Zuleikha if she’ll put something online on her blog – maybe only some of her own playing (we’d have to ask too many parents to show everything here). If yes, then I can put up a link to it here.

On Saturday, June 17th, the latest and greatest version of Debian was released to the public, as promised. And I’ve got and installed it last night, just after finishing the video. It’s nice, and everything worked pretty much out of the proverbial box for me. I did an upgrade followed by a dist-upgrade like recommended, and the whole process didn’t last much longer than just half an hour. Nice.

And now, just a few minutes before writing this, I discovered a nice video on Youtube:

This is Adam Ben Ezra on his double bass.


Learning just another (filmmaking) program, while not forgetting about photography

Recently, Zuleikha had just another gig as a musician (playing piano), and we recorded it – Mitchie on video with her Olympus E-PL5 and the 45mm/1.8 lens (on her tripod of course), and me with my Røde NT-1A microphone, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd gen) interface, and the Lenovo Thinkpad P50 laptop/notebook which I’ve got from my employer.

Zuleikha’s piano teacher asked us to make a DVD from all the attendees’ performances, so we recorded everyone instead of just our own daughter. And since then (that was Sunday evening), I’m trying to learn just another video-editing program.

Why? Well because Ardour is more like Avid’s Pro Tools – a music studio inside of your computer, and OpenShot is a video editor which we’ve used previously, but which also gave me some headaches already – for bigger projects like a full-blown DVD, it’s not the most stable and full-featured one.

So at the moment I’m looking at the community version of Cinelerra, which seems to be great. There’s a very nice article on the German ubuntuusers wiki, with some additional nice links, like the one to Raffaella Traniello’s “Cinelerra for Grandma” – that answered most of my questions (and struggles) so far.

It’s still quite a lot to learn – these are not your basic editors, but full-blown and -featured professional programs like the commercial ones on other operating systems (and also a bit like Ardour vs. Pro Tools or Logic).

And with all that music- and video-related stuff, I’m still not forgetting about photography, even if I do that only for private and family “jobs” right now. So I’m still regularly reading the most interesting bloggers (and pros) like Kirk Tuck, or Michael Johnston’s “The Online Photographer” (and listening to Brooks Jensen’s “Lenswork Daily” podcasts).

I just answered one of Mike’s posts for instance, which was about his thought of a dual camera system (one his iphone, the other one maybe a Sony A7-2). My answer to that one, in case you don’t find it on his page, was:

“Love the idea, Mike.

I’ve got an Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first gen) which in cameras is in my opinion the equivalent to what our Corolla is in cars. It will do the job, and get you the picture. Not the best, but a quite acceptable one.

But the A7 Mk2 is the one that really interest me, even more so since I realized that both of our Olympus film bodies (OM-1 and OM-2) are having problems with their shutters, and ruin many potentially good (and expensive) film shots. So yes, a “digital back” for my OM Zuiko 50mm/1.4 would be great to have.

Or maybe an FM-2; could even be better. But that wouldn’t accept my Zuiko lens AFAIK.”

So beside my full-time professional job (still having to earn a living for us all), and beside my honorary work in the school’s parents’ association, I’m quite busy at the moment. Holding on to the next task, like: make a DVD for the parents of the other young and aspiring musicians – and for their teacher of course.

But being busy, and being together with the young ones keeps you young as well – or so they say 😉

Thanks for reading.

Jacob Collier

Meet Jacob Collier, rehearsing with the WDR Big Band in 2015:

More info about him at the German and English Wikipedia pages, more music at his Youtube channel.

Like Snarky Puppy, he’s a two times Grammy winner – one for this:

Found him through Aimee Nolte’s video about microtonalism, here:

Thanks Aimee!


Update, from June 8th, 2017:

Jacob plays some real nice double bass, or “Oma” as we sometimes call them in German. I’ve read or heard in some interview that he got that one as a present when he was 14. Lucky him! See here for instance:

Also on this really grooving track, after some 2+ minutes a capella (which are awesome as well):

Incredible musician. Oh, and if you listen to his “interviews” playlist on Youtube, you’ll notice that he has perfect pitch (“absolutes Gehör” in German). Which means that if he sings an arpeggio, you’ll find that he had the exact notes when checked on a piano. Here for instance. Awesome once again:

No wonder even Quincy Jones was impressed, and became his mentor. What a career…

Speaking about being with the great ones; here he is with Snarky Puppy, on their “Family Dinner Vol. 2”:

and on stage as well, somewhere in England, showcasing that a Melodica is all you need if you’re that good:

I love this concert

Snarky Puppy live in Paris, in exactly the same lineup of people as they played here in Frankfurt. But the list of songs is very different, except of some of their “hits” of course (they didn’t play “Lingus” here for instance).

What I also like here are the shots which show the audience – a few people more than the 1.300 people which attended the concert here. And boy, these parisiens and parisiennes know a good groove when they hear it; love their reactions!

Snarky Puppy is very much a band of musicians and for musicians – so not everyone likes them. But again, there’s no average age of the audience, all kinds of kids from under 20 up to old guys (like me) of 60 and above. Which probably shows that although the band members are young (some are less than half my age), and although they’re standing on the shoulders of giants (of my youth, I remember quite a number of good jazzrock bands), there’s still a market for good old handmade music. Which gives kinda hope for the future, after all that disco-hiphop-sampling-stealing-whatever “dark times” of computer-produced snippet stuff… Oh, and the instruments: there’s also nothing better than the originals, from the good old B3s, Minimoogs and Rhodes pianos up to the brass and the violin.

Long live Snarky. Ordered their “We like it here” CD/DVD yesterday, from their own GroundUpMusic website, and it’s on its way already. And cheaper than at the big online retail stores, even if you count in the shipping from New York.

So please do as Michael says here: support the musicians. Especially the younger ones.

Thank you for reading.

Snarky Puppy World Tour 2017: Frankfurt

So yesterday I was at a concert of my current favourite band and 2 times Grammy winners, Snarky Puppy. In case you’re interested, you can purchase the whole concert here (FLAC). And on one of their pictures you can even see me…

So – how was the concert? In two words: good. LOUD. Guess it was ok at the mixing console, close to which I stood later, but more at the front of the stage, the sound volume over the whole spectrum (in my opinion, especially the higher parts) was VERY high.

They let their guest start first, which was the really sweet Becca Stevens. She presented some songs from her latest album Regina with a little help from “Maz” Maher (voc), and Michael League (b, voc) from Snarky.

And after a short break to move their stuff off the stage, Snarky played, with

Chris Bullock – tenor sax, flute, & alto flute
Mike “Maz” Maher – trumpet & flugelhorn
Justin Stanton – trumpet, Fender Rhodes, & Prophet
Bobby Sparks – organ, clavinet, Minimoog, and Motif
Zach Brock – violin
Bob Lanzetti – guitar
Michael League – bass & Moog bass
Larnell Lewis – drums
Nate Werth – percussion


1. GØ
2. Beep Box
3. Outlier
4. Thing of Gold
5. Tarova
6. Grown Folks
7. Tio Macaco
8. Young Stuff
9. Shofukan
10. Sleeper

I was pretty close to the stage until about 22:00 (10pm), after which I was out for a short cigarette break – and so I heard the rest of the concert from the entrance which was about as far from the stage as the mixer – where the sound was much more pleasing. Michael’s Markbass Casa was still pressing through his 8×10″ cabinet, but now the highs weren’t as shrill anymore. Much better.

The audience was about 1300 people, and as usual with Snarky, aged from under 20 to over 60. And also as usual, some of their greatest hits were sung by the audience, like “Thing of Gold”, or “Shofukan”, or even the only cover song of the evening, Steve Wonder’s “Always” by Becca & her band, where “Maz” turned out to be a really good vocalist as well.

Definitely a band to hear. Don’t miss them.

P.S.: Just downloaded their concert, and I’m glad I did – it’s awesome. The recorded sound must have come from the mixing console; it’s much better than it was close to the stage (and also better than at the entrance door of the hall). So if you haven’t done so already, listen to them at least on Youtube – but I can definitely also recommend that Frankfurt concert.

Oh, and by the way: if you looked at the linked photo above, did you also see the Focusrite interface on that Hammond B3? It’s a smaller version of the one I have…

And now – something for the bassists

Here are two very basic but nonetheless useful lessons for beginning bass players. The first one talks about the two most common mistakes done by slap players, the second deals with the single most important thing to learn. Oh, and the example music is great as well; in the second it’s “Autumn Leaves” again. Look and listen if you’re interested:

Scott is doing this for a living, apart from being a session musician – so if you need that kind of advice from a real working pro, consider to join (and pay) him for what he does.

Oh, and his mentioning of “scales and arpeggios” reminded me of a must-see movie especially for musicians. So the following two are from Aristocats, and remember: you have to practise your scales and you arpeggios before you can even try thinking about performing the second one:

Yeah. Cool cats they are. Enjoy.