Here's a little progress report covering what I've been working on, and the recent concerts I've attended.
TWO BIG BAND CONCERTS
I recently attended two college big band concerts: the Morehouse College Big Band with Freddy Cole and The Emory University Big Band with Philip Harper. Like last year's concert with Sean Jones, the Morehouse big band was full of energy and put on a very entertaining show. Freddy Cole sounded great and the Morehouse band complemented him nicely on their joint numbers. The band also excelled on an individual level as all of their student soloists sounded great. I recognized most of them from last year's concert and they've all noticeably improved. Great work by Melvin Jones and the Morehouse students!
The Emory University Big Band's concert with Philip Harper was also very good. It was my first time hearing their big band, and knowing that they don't have many (any?) student jazz trumpeters, I wasn't expecting much. Turns out, they opened up their big band to Emory faculty, alumni, and children of alumni, so the otherwise empty student positions were well stocked. The trumpet section in particular had two older guys in first and second chairs that really packed a punch, so they had the muscle where it counts! Their saxophone section also sounded great, led by the very strong playing and fantastic soloing of one of the Emory students.
LEARNING TO IMPROVISE SERIES
I want to write an introduction and I'd also like to modify some of the articles. When I started writing the series, I really wasn't sure what direction it would take, but now that it's mostly done, I see room for improvement. For instance, I want to rename and modify the Rhythm section so it covers both Rhythm and Phrasing. I also want to include more audio clips, as I've done with the Listening article. Like most things, it comes down to an issue of free time. I just don't have enough of it!
ALANTA JAZZ EXPERIMENT
It's been a couple months now since I added the Atlanta Jazz section to my website. Even though I don't have a lot of content, I am well indexed by the major search engines, so I come up near the top of many combinations of "Atlanta Jazz". On average, my site gets 3-5 hits a day from searches for "Atlanta jazz [Something]" or specific Atlanta jazz musicians. I guess that's pretty good. I just hope that the links on my site help steer people to the information they're looking for.
EAR TRAINER PROGRESS
I recently mentioned that I was going to build the next version of my ear trainer in Flash instead of Java. The Flash version would have to use mp3 files for each note since Flash still doesn't support midi for desktop applications, but at least it would work for everyone right away. I put together a test project that sequences notes and was disappointed to discover that while the sequencing works, it also produces an extremely annoying clicking sound after every note. This apparently doesn't occur on every system, but it occurs on three of mine, so for now it's a deal breaker. I won't be making a Flash ear trainer any time soon.
There is some good news regarding my Java ear trainer, though. It looks like I may have overcome the issue where newer versions of the Java runtime engine don't include midi soundbanks. That means the Java ear trainer should produce audio for just about everyone, without requiring any additional midi downloads. I still need to do some additional programming and testing, but the results thus far are encouraging.