Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why bother with iTunes or Amazon MP3 store?

Call me an old curmudgeon, but I find a lot of what passes for new music boring in the extreme: manufactured pop, pseudo-country, and studio produced crap. There are a few things interesting that I've chanced upon - most of it stuff my offspring have turned me on to - but not a lot.

Lately I've been supplementing my (ahem) legally purchased music from Amazon (yes - as awful as they are, I still patronize them) with a new source - Archive.org.

Archive.org, in case you've never been there, bills itself rather cumbersomely as "Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music and Wayback Machine." While accurate, it's a bit of a mouthful. I could write several posts on this amazing site and barely scratch the surface. If you've never visited it, just do it. Just. Do. It. You won't be sorry.

Some basics about me: I love music - especially old music. The funkier the better. Growing up, my dad had numerous Spike Jones 78's, which we listened to endlessly.  I love jazz. I love old radio. I love oddball stuff. I love *some* old rock music.

I recently have started listening to a lot of Oscar Peterson. The man's a God. After dropping some coin at Amazon and the Half-Price Books flagship store in Dallas, I did a little searching at Archive.Org and found Oscar's Boogie:

Other things I found at random include:


I'm also a big Stan Getz fan - here are Oscar and Stan together:


Some other treats I found were this huge collection of Art Tatum recordings (Tatum was a source of inspiration to Peterson) and this Fats Waller collection. Going to a search result will give you the option to stream or download the file - usually a zip file either a collection of  audio files, a single cut, or a long file with multiple selections. The files are usually available as either MP3's or (for the Free Software crowd) Ogg files. There's a handy embeddable player (which is what I'm using). A lot of these are transcriptions of old recordings - even off 78's (in fact there's a whole sections of the site devoted to transcriptions off 78's!).

There are sprinkling of recordings by Joe Pass, one of the greatest jazz guitarists you never heard of here and there.


Some other large jazz collections that you may find interesting (in no particular order):
Of course, old jazz isn't the only thing out there. If your taste runs to more recent tunes, check out the Live Music Archive: recordings of performers who have a "tape-friendly" attitude. While most of these are regional bands (you may have never heard of them but they rock nonetheless), you'll also find such treasures as almost 9,000 live performances of the Grateful Dead.

The hardest thing about finding stuff is...finding stuff. It helps to be very patient and just go exploring. Collections often point you to related collections.

I leave you with Les Paul playing the classic "Sleep Walk."



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