Geri Allen: still really good at piano.
Geri Allen: still really good at piano. Motema Music
The Free MP3 has become a standard practice of today's record industry. You know, offering up a downloadable track from an upcoming album release to fans and potential fans as a sort of advertisement. Especially for artists who don't get much radio airplay, it's largely replaced the single as a way to entice curiosity about record purchases. And of course, it's affected the way people organize their music, contributing to the rise of single-song consumption.
Except that it's not prevalent in the jazz sector of the industry yet. Perhaps there are reasons to this: today's jazz hasn't oriented itself to the "hit single" in the way pop generally has, for one, and old school-ism still reigns in much of the jazz business and audience. (Often with good reason.) Several labels offer streaming previews, but there ain't much in the way of handouts.
Motema Music certainly isn't the first jazz label to offer up free MP3s, but it's worth noting that they're doing it with no strings attached for all their releases these days. And their newest releases happen to be quite good. Marc Cary's Focus Trio — the acoustic piano trio project from the keyboardist — has a new live record out: you can grab "Attachment" from Focus Trio Live 2009 here. And Geri Allen quietly issued her first solo piano album: try the title track on Flying Toward The Sound. It's as grand, graceful and full of colorful clusters as you might expect a Geri Allen solo piano recording to be.
In other news, put your ear to another free track, this one a live recording from alto saxophonists Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green. Rudresh you may know as the dude who's recently been hailed for his seamless mergers of Indian music and jazz; he has an instantly identifiable thing going on with his solos. Bunky you may know as a former Mingus sideman who's largely been out of the spotlight for decades, now teaching in Florida (he's nearly 75); he's seen as a missing link to the Steve Colemans and Greg Osbys of the world. Both Mahanthappa and Green are leading a new band next week at New York's Jazz Standard with a stacked lineup: Jason Moran on piano, Francois Moutin on bass and Damion Reid on drums. A similar band (plus two trumpeters) played an outdoor gig in Chicago last year; "Summit" is a modal burner from that date.