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    My YouTube channel and favorite recent video


    2017 - 07.02

    As reminder, check out my YouTube channel for lots more quality Electric Trumpet content!  Here’s the jam of 2017 so far that’s had the most replay value for me personally, a stretched out version of the Herb Alpert classic “Rise” which has great pacing and grooves:

     

    Electric Trumpet pedalboard snapshot: 3/4/17


    2017 - 06.11

    It’s been about a year, time for another update on the electric trumpet pedalboard.

    Here’s the current effects chain (photo from Breakfast 8):

    Boss OC-2 octave
    Eventide Pitchfactor
    Source Audio SA143 bass envelope
    Morley Power Wah
    Dr. Scientist BitQuest (rental)
    Damage Control Liquid Blues
    Moog Minifooger Ring Modulator**
    Saturnworks A/B splitter
    A chain:

    Maestro PH-1 Phaser
    Moog Bass MuRF
    TC Electronic Flashback delay
    Source Audio Lunar Phaser**

    B chain:

    TC Electronic Mimiq Doubler (rental)
    Damage Control Glass Nexus
    Strymon BigSky Reverberator**
    Strymon Mobius Modulation (rental)

    ** denotes a new permanent addition.  The BigSky Reverberator is quite magnificent and deserves its own post.  Lunar Phaser was so good I did end up buying one and it’s given me some great moments.  BitQuest is also a super unique pedal although I have struggled to make it sing since it’s control scheme is tough to dial in on the fly.

    Kanstul WB v2.0


    2017 - 04.20

    There’s an old saying that if you love something, send it to the factory where it was made and have them make it brand new again, and if it comes back to you, then you know it was meant to be.  I might have messed up the first part of that, but whatever, point is, my Kanstul WB trumpet is back in my hands and it feels so good!

    To summarize the work for my own later reference, I sent my horn to the Kanstul factory in Anaheim California for a replating, and the installation of Saturn water keys.  I’ve never liked Amado water keys so this was the ideal time to swap them out for something better.  Saturns are a pretty unusual design but I heard they are great so I ordered some from the inventor in Scotland.  Kanstul inspected the horn and told me it had “red rot” on the inside of the leadpipe and the crook of the tuning slide and both would need replacement since they refuse to work on instruments with this condition.  We discussed the acid bleed which was coming out of the inside of the bell lip/curl and they said once it starts, even if the horn is replated, there is no way of guaranteeing it won’t return again.  With that said, I told them to go ahead and put on a brand new bell, since the bell has to be removed during this process anyway.

    They completed all the work and I also bought an alternate tuning slide with an identical finish.  Instead of being D-shaped like the default one, this alternate slide has a C-shape and a solid-plate brace.  I’ve long been curious about the effect of a smoother bend in the piping right there, and I always thought solid braces look real cool.  My initial impression is there isn’t a dramatic difference however the D-shape feels ‘zingier’ and I think I prefer the original.  The only way to know was to try!  I think I will use the alternate slide now and then just for novelty’s sake.  Who knows, maybe if I invest enough time it’ll begin to grow on me or reveal some other characteristics I haven’t yet noticed.

    Kanstul WB with Saturn Water Keys & solid plate brace C-crook

    Along with the work on the horn I also got a copy of the book “Zig Kanstul: Last of the Great Masters” which offers a detailed lineage on where Zig picked up his talents before he had his own company.  It was a pretty interesting read if you’re a brass geek, especially the parts about brassmakers King and Benge.  My cornet is a King and it plays exceptionally well, so I found that link personally relevant.

    Speaking of the King cornet, it was interesting to play on the Kanstul for maybe 9 months, then switch back to the King while the trumpet was in the shop, and now back to the Kanstul again.  When I first got the Kanstul I knew it played better than the King but having returned to cornet and spent some quality time on it, I’m now realizing that the gulf between these two axes is wider than I had initially appreciated.  Either I missed having it around, or the replacement of leadpipe/bell actually improved it a bit; either way it feels noticeably zippier and more powerful.   A California supercar…

    Like I said back when I first got it, the horn is only as capable as the musician piloting it, so time for me to step up my fundamentals and deliver with my tools here.  When practicing recently I’ve caught myself thinking “trust the horn” when it comes time to strike into the upper register.  There’s definitely a give-and-take in terms of using too much effort to play a difficult note versus relaxing and having confidence that what you go for is going to simply come out.  Right now I need to play with mental balance between those two ideas, and concentrate my attention on accuracy, intonation, and “clarity” in terms of hearing a phrase in my mind as I execute it.  More than ever the limiting factor is just my own self and that’s pretty inspiring.

    My musical 2016 in retrospect (and pedals chronology)


    2016 - 12.27

    Well 2016 is drawing to a close at last and I think I can speak for many people in saying it was a downright lousy year, to put it nicely.  There’s a lot I could complain about but I’m trying to stay focused on the positive.  I’ve been playing a bunch of music and that’s been one of the best things going on in my life this year.  For my own clarity/later reference I compiled a list of the effects pedals I’ve been renting from Pedal Genie and I figured why not post it here.  The list is organized by the date of the shipment of the rental pedals, and includes the list of recording sessions I held during the time I was using those pedals.  I had 21 multi-track recording sessions in 2016 with the last 4 of those recorded in 24bit/96kHz which is something I’ve always wanted to do, recently enabled by a PC upgrade to the recording rig.  We also had 1 live show and 1 video shoot with a live cameraman.  From that video shoot came my personal favorite cornet performance of the year (in terms of expressiveness and execution), on “I Thought It Was You” by Herbie Hancock.  Check it out:

    List of effects pedals on rental and associated recording sessions:

    2/23/17 sessions: Breakfast 34 (Denver), 3/19 (Heterodyne) || Acropolis 4/23 (Rise), 6/11 ||
    Strymon Möbius Modulation Multieffects
    Dr. Scientist BitQuest (low-fi multieffect)
    TC Electronic Mimiq Doubletracker

    10/28/16 sessions: Acropolis 11/13 (Hang Up/96k), 1/15 (Ribbons, K.Cake) || Super Risky Clique 11/27 || Fistbump III 12/11 ||  George R. Brown
    Strymon BigSky Reverberator
    Catalinbread Heliotrope
    Empress Phaser

    7/7/16 sessions: Acropolis 7/17 (Instant Ice) || Stretch Coast 8/13 (Disco Fred) || POACB 8/14 (Fiddy) || Fistbump II 10/23
    DOD Gonkulator Ring Mod
    Source Audio SA241 Lunar Phaser
    Keeley Super Mod Workstation

    5/2/16 sessions: YVJ trio 5/14 || JJP trio 5/21 || Scalding 6/11 || Breakfast 6/25 (Brain) || Fistbump 7/2 (America)
    Moog Minifooger MF Flange
    Pigtronix EP2 Envelope Phaser
    Dr Scientist The Tremoloessence

    3/2/16 sessions: Extraterrestrial 3/13 || Acropolis 4/9 (scrapped) || Breakfast 4/10 (Seahorse Carol)
    Boss TE-2 Tera Echo
    Moog MF Ring Mod
    Keeley 6 Stage Phaser

    12/4/15 sessions: Acropolis 12/6 (Fallbrook), 1/24, 1/31 (P-996) || Bok 1/17 || Breakfast 1/30 (Monsieur) || Phosphene 2/21
    TC Electronics HOF Reverb
    Source Audio SA126 Bass Envelope

    9/28/15 sessions: Antidote 11/15
    Walrus Audio Janus Tremolo Fuzz
    Electro Harmonix Bad Stone Phaser+
    Mad Professor Snow White Bass Autowah

    7/3/15 sessions: Acropolis 7/24, 8/9, 8/23 (Telemetry), 9/27 (dub)
    Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl
    Infanem Small Echo Array
    Red Panda Particle Delay

    5/11/15 sessions: 100% Juice 5/15, 5/22 (Beatles), 6/27-28 || Acropolis 5/14, 6/11
    Electro Harmonix Super Pulsar Tremolo
    SolidGoldFX Funkzilla Envelope+

    4/3/15 sessions: 100% Juice 4/3 (RC), 4/25 (Hollywood) || Acropolis 4/23, 5/7  || Fresh Squeezed 4/18
    SolidGoldFX Apollo Phaser+
    Voodoo Lab Wahzoo

    3/2/15 sessions: 100% Juice 3/14 (Sunset Drink)
    TC Electronics Flashback x2 Delay
    Caroline Icarus Boost
    Fulltone Clyde Delux Wah

    Everything Matters


    2016 - 09.16

    A rousing bout of discussion among friends prompted me to search out a drawing I’d seen on the web sometime back concerning the “sad state of modern recording”. Basically it’s mocking the signal chain of recording artist to listener and I’ve created (ironically?) a more high fidelity version of this graphic for your enjoyment here:

    Modern Recording

    What is this saying from a musician’s perspective?  I guess that ultimately it’s up to the listener to decide what time/research/money they want to invest into music.  If a listener wants to be low-effort, they are free to do that although it really doesn’t demand that much money to get decently-good sound.  The image is mostly just for laughs but it does implicitly say something philosophical about the effort that recording engineers put into their craft of capturing something in exquisite quality.  I mean people don’t go tremendously out of their way to acquire just the right tools without knowing they’ll be rewarded for using them.  There is absolutely a major implication in the ingredients you choose when making food.  And a colossal difference between a carefully grilled steak versus McDonald’s.

    What touched all this off was the recent news that the iPhone 7 will have no headphone jack. I reacted to this news with laughter because it seemed so farcical, like a running joke that never stopped being funny for so long that it actually took wind and became a twisted reality. There was a time not long ago when I was interested enough in gadgets that I might have weighed in on this development with vociferous indignation but maybe I’ve stopped caring that much? It still does fascinate me that people will bend over backwards to rationalize this brazenly anti-user, anti-battery-life, anti-fidelity design choice. I mean I’ve got a few different sets of headphones which are each valuable listening tools for my own mixing/mastering projects and all of them would be incompatible with this “fancy” new phone without the use of a dongle. That’s just… bizarre.

    Apple’s had a long, rich history of incomprehensible design choices like the hockey-puck mouse, the elimination of optical drives, the elimination of USB ports, and the recessed headphone jack on the iPhone 1 which now seems like a strange foreshadowing. My friends were riffing that Apple had also done away with Bluetooth and replaced it with their own proprietary wireless format called “Courage” and it wasn’t until I searched the web that I could figure out if they were serious or joking. Turns out they were making a clever joke but I think Apple should do it. How far can they go? For the iPhone 8 they should eliminate the screen I think. Too many clashing colors and confusing aesthetics for the modern consumer. The next phone will be a chrome-plated egg shape to literally mirror the skeuomorphic designs of nature. It’ll have a single LED that communicates to the user via a system of colors and flashing patterns about Donald Drumpf’s latest assertion that kale is part of Obamacare and needs to be banished. Accessories will include a $37.95 polish iCloth to keep the chrome egg plating fingerprint-free (please stop touching it), and an optional dongle which connects the egg to an external iScreen, if you really are that old fashioned that you still need a screen, you curmudgeonly technophobe. People would be just frothing at the opportunity to defend those choices, I know it! I also do genuinely wonder if Apple has actually made their billions by trading the stocks of accessory manufacturers and releasing strings of products to manipulate the stock prices in their favor up or down.

    So that’s all pretty amusing but why do I care? I guess I don’t really. I’ve been content with Android for long enough now that whatever Apple does or doesn’t do has no effect on me so this rambling is all just for fun. And possibly part of my internal debate to answer the question, which is more stupid: continually voicing your unsolicited opinions on inane matters like what you’re cooking for supper, or continually saying nothing and maybe because of that having nothing to say? Of course the right place to land is somewhere in-between those two extremes but I feel I’ve been erring on the latter side too long so here’s a dishing in favor of the former:

    As the above graphic implies, there is a difference made with hardware choice. And everything matters. In my own music that I’ve been recording and mastering, I’ve been continually changing, tweaking, and improving my artistry, small step by small step. From stylistic choices about the philosophy of mixing (should all instruments be clearly audible or should a single instrument be firmly holding the “lead”), to technical choices about the mastering (how much compression on the overheads is too much on the mid-band) to hardware decisions (which mic should I use on trumpet or snare, what placement is best for upper Leslie horn), to the musical choices which happen during the moment itself—all of that plays a role in what comes out at the end.

    When I create music I am trying to get better at that for my own inner critic and my own inner enjoyment-listener. I do it to my own standard, or maybe more accurately I do it for the inherent accomplishment of having done it well. Never once does the sentiment “no one will ever notice” enter into my mind in this process because let’s be brutally honest here: hardly ever does anyone else even listen to begin with!! Besides my fellow musicians and maybe a random YouTuber now and then. And that’s ok. If I was creating music to please some hypothetical judge I’d be doing it for the wrong reason anyway. But my point here is that if the Sennheiser e609 sounds better than the Shure SM57 microphone when it comes to recording my friend Vince’s guitar, then I’m going to pick the better one because that’s what artistry is about: getting better at making your thing. A million different musicians all make choices like that every day and it all matters to them as individuals and to the overall quality level of the medium as a whole. If everyone gave up and said right we’re all using Fisher Price microphones going forward because why bother since the new iPhone wireless audio restricts the bitrate to 2800 baud or whatever, that’d be dumb as hell. And so it IS dumb as hell that Apple wants to get rid of cables which is indisputably a step backwards in terms of signal integrity, interference, and so on. Quality matters, end of story.

    I hope people vote with their wallets on this one because love em or hate em, Apple is a trendsetter. Maybe at worst this is the beginning of the end for the cult of Jobs, or at the least maybe a few die-hard loyalists might blink and realize that the world’s 2nd most valuable corporation isn’t a hip buddy who just wants to jam out with them over some cool tunes, they’re more of a malicious middle-man of sorts, who wants to water-down what’s great about music and take your money in exchange for the illusion of coolness that comes with this club that really just takes anyone’s $700 who’s dumb enough to hand it over. That’s right, iSaid it. Audio cables for life, people. Because music’s richness is in the fine details and as we firmly established, everything matters when it comes to that.

    Where the Magic Happens


    2016 - 07.31

    There’s been a few awesome milestones lately in my world of recording.  Let’s rattle em off:

    Electra MAXXED1. I’ve got “www.YouTube.com/ElectricTrumpet”!

    My YouTube channel now has enough subscribers that I could acquire a custom URL.  Now all of my Electric Trumpet exploits can now be seen at the easy-to-remember address of www.YouTube.com/ElectricTrumpet which is pretty nifty indeed (although the embedded link here takes you right to the full videos page).  I have continued to upload more content there and there shall be a steady stream to come as well so check it out both now and later.

    2. The size of my musical exploits is now crossing one Terrabyte in size!!

    As you can see by the hard drive properties in the screenshot at left, my recording hard drive is soon to be full.  The only thing on this hard drive is audio recordings I have made!  There is maybe a small bit of filler in there in terms of mp3s of songs I need to practice or other bloat like zip files of sessions to be uploaded and shared but it’s mostly jams, wavs, and things happenin.  It feels so great to see this.  It’s one thing to stack up a big pile of gear and spend a bunch of cash on the tools of the trade, but it feels a lot better to see the proof in the pudding so to speak, the walking of the walk in actually creating stuff.  There’s a ton of people out there who spend boatloads of money on expensive hardware, be it photography or music or whatever, but I always find myself internally asking the question, “Yeah, but what have you MADE?”  Here I am, earning the right to talk that trash.  Hell yeah.

    3. The input capacity of my setup has expanded to THIRTY!!!

    I’m pretty psyched up about the fact that I’ve now acquired enough gear to extend my recording setup from 16 channels up to 30!  I’m adding a sweet “The Moment Of Genesis” tag to this post for this milestone.  On the face of it, it seems like 16 channels should be plenty, right?  But as time has gone on I have expanded and expanded my methods of recording, and we’re now at the point that I’ve used the max of 16 channels for many consecutive sessions now, wishing that I had the capability to go higher.  If that seems unlikely, let me rattle them off: 1.overhead high-hat 2. overhead ride 3. snare 4. kick 5. electric bass 6. electric guitar 7. Leslie organ horn left 8. Leslie organ horn right 9. trumpet stand mic 10. Leslie bottom (15″) 11. trumpet pedalboard left 12. trumpet pedalboard right 13. trumpet clip-on mic (blended with stand for tone) 14. lower snare mic 15. room mic left 16. room mic right…  And there’s 16!  First thing I’m going to add over that will be 3 tom mics so that I can high pass the overheads, cutting the bass and the snare out of my overhead track without killing the life of the toms.  I have also been dreaming of adding an auxiliary percussion/conguero now and then, or having the ability to add other horn players, or a doubling of guitar or keys maybe.  So this unlocks all that capability although the main thing immediately is the addition of tom mics which I hope will clean up the low and high end overall.  Behold the glorious rack which will bring all that to life:

    recording rack setup 8/16

    10 year anniversary: “Electro-Acoustic Workshop” @ Muse Cafe Chicago, IL 7/6/2006


    2016 - 07.06

    Today is the ten-year anniversary of a very memorable jam session for me, “The Electro-Acoustic Workshop” at Muse Cafe in Chicago IL on 7-6-6.  This session was the brainchild of one Mr Dave Marsalek who was part owner of the coffeeshop Muse Cafe and a talented drummer in his own right.  The Muse was his shot at opening a business that combined his love of coffee and experimental music.  Of course running a cafe is damn hard and eventually due to various factors it had to close, but for a period from 2006 to 2007 (?) I joined him and a host of other friends to create some  original and innovative music that ten years later still stands worthy of those adjectives.  There were a few reoccuring music series hosted at Muse Cafe worthy of note and one of these was the Electro-Acoustic Workshop.

    The theme of this particular session was, as the name implies, combining electronic sounds (effects pedals/electrified instruments/samplers/etc) with traditional acoustic jazz instrumentation.  This particular session was a standout among my recordings from that era for two main reasons: one, Dave had some excellent musicial friends amassed for this evening.  Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee) on drums and Chris Clemente (Kick the Cat) on electric bass were the heaviest hitters in attendance but the whole supporting cast and crew were all creative and energetic in their own rights.  Alas, many of these people I never did stay in touch with and their names elude me through the fog of memory.  But the playing still speaks for itself.

    Behind the excellent musicianship, the second main reason why this session is a standout to me is because of where I personally happened to be in my musical development.  I had started experimenting with effects pedals near the beginning of 2006 and by mid-year I had either borrowed or accumulated enough gear to do something interesting, and had also spent just enough time with it to somewhat know what I was doing or at least trying to do.  Thanks to the excellent cast assembled for this evening the grooves were guaranteed to be good and I was setup to do ‘my thing’ on the highest level that I could.

    In hindsight I sort of view this session as a fork in the road with my musical development.  I had always been fascinated with effects and combining them with the instrument I had been practicing my whole life was an intriguing new twist to put it lightly.  But was this a gimmick–a transitory phase on the way to something else–or was there real substance worth developing with the use of effects on my horn?  It would take a few magic moments to cement the idea.  Instants where something special happened thanks to effects pedals, instants which would not have had the same impact without them.  And that’s exactly what this session had in spades.

    I’ve always been a dedicated taper and archivalist of my own craft on the horn.  Most of the time these recordings have a short shelf life.  I try to listen to myself and identify what worked well and needs to be repeated, refined, and reiterated.  Most of the time it’s incremental improvements, maybe an unusually creative phrase, or a handful of spots where synchronicity of the group yielded a neat moment–this is what we’re usually hoping for when we play music.  Very seldom does an evening come along with a replay value measured in years, one where you say to yourself, “This is it.  This is what I’m working toward and what I’m trying to do.  I want to internalize this, be able to recreate this energy again.”  July 7th on 2006 was that moment for me, and it inspired me to double-down on playing with effects and commit to that as a core-element of ‘my thing’.  Of course there were many moments before and after that taught me how rewarding it is to play with effects, but this night and the many times I relistened to this night were probably the largest single motivational event that shaped my musical path foward.

    So for that reason it’s a very special recording to me on a personal/developmental level.  All that said, I also think it’s a fantastic listen even without that story surrounding it.  Several months back I uploaded it to YouTube.  This isn’t the entire evening, since the whole thing is quite long, but what we have below is the middle and ending sections which gel together with a cohesive flow and make, to me, a thought-provoking, smile-inducing, and at times eyebrow-raising musical journey, a pivotal moment catapulting me toward where I am today.  I invite you to join in and listen to that journey:

    The most complex electric trumpet setup to date


    2016 - 06.17

    I thought this photo ought to be captured here to document the state of my configuration on 5/21/16:

    Electric Trumpet Pedalboard and Leslie

    Since there was no organ on this session,  the horn is setup to run through the Leslie… Yo dawg I heard you like horns… so we put your horn though a horn!  As you might guess, the trumpet throught a Leslie horn can be exceptionally piercing.  Devoted readers may notice that my Leslie model 205 did not originally include the horn, which I have just recently added.  Horn through the Leslie is pretty neat although after trying it a few times I have concluded that organ (as one might expect) is still what makes it truly shine.

    Also new in this image are 3 rental pedals from PedalGenie.com, the Dr Scientist Tremoloescence, the Moog Minifooger flanger, and the Pigtronix Envelope Phaser.  Those three pedals aRe listed in order of increasing coolness for their effect on the horn.  I’ve had fun with all three although by this stage the bar is set very high for a pedal to be a “keeper”.  A new round should be arriving soon.

    Tape & Vinyl at center stage in The Lab


    2016 - 05.23

    Recently I decided to take some glamour shots of my stereo setup in “The Lab” and post them to a vintage audio usergroup for others to oogle and discuss. Some of the elements shown here have already been written about individually so I won’t recap that (get it?) in detail here. Clicking on any image will enlarge it, then right click again on the enlarged image if you want to see if in 100% resolution.  Below is a list of the components and links to more descriptive posts on these where available:

    The Cast of Characters:

    Speakers: Marantz HD-770
    Amp: Fisher CA-2310
    Turntable: Marantz 6100
    Reel to Reel: Ampex 960

    2001: A Space Funk Odyssey


    2016 - 05.02

    Triumphant AF. Officially endorsed viewing here: