Sunday, January 31, 2010
Last November, when Mehldau and Brion were mixing the album in Los Angeles, I spent about eight hours in the studio with them, taking notes for a forthcoming Arts & Leisure feature. I got a ton of material, some of which I’ll be posting here as we get closer to release date.
Observing Jon Brion at a board is not unlike watching Mehldau at the piano; it’s his chief instrument, and he approaches it with extrasensory focus and an almost surgical precision. (At one point, mixing a track with a drum part by Matt Chamberlain, he rode the controls manually, in real time. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say he functioned as a member of the band.)
So how does Highway Rider sound? Not at all like Largo Part Deux, which may disappoint some fans initially -- that is, until they hear the results. In the years since his first Brion production, Mehldau has delved ever more seriously into orchestration, teasing out the Romantic undercurrent that has always run through his music. The overture to the new album involves a somber piano prelude, a brooding upwelling of strings and, as the clincher, some gorgeous tenor filigree from Joshua Redman. (The Brad Mehldau Trio -- with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard -- holds down the core of the album. Redman and Chamberlain are guests, as is the chamber orchestra, conducted by Dan Coleman.)
Advance music for the record should be going out soon. I’m looking forward to hearing it again, and to tracking the ripples of response. Frankly I’m shocked that word of this collaboration didn’t leak at any point within the last year. There’ll be more on this project, in this space, fairly soon. Service note, meanwhile: Mehldau will be at the Highline Ballroom, playing solo piano in a benefit for Jazz Reach, on Jan. 14.
Russia, as you might expect, has a whole lot of satellites that are no longer functioning. China is responsible for a surprisingly large amount of tiny space trash, though I'm not exactly clear on what that is. America, of course, is responsible for the largest amount of space trash.
Seeing how many broken satellites remain in orbit instantly reminded me of the scene in Wall-E in which the Earth of the future is seen enveloped in a layer of orbiting techno-trash. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
Michael Paukner has a lot of other awesome stuff, space-related and otherwise, so check out his Flickr if you're interested. [Michael Paukner via We Love Dataviz]
Friday, January 29, 2010
Quick Pitch: Tom’s Planner allows you to create and share Gantt Charts online with drag-and-drop simplicity.
Tom’s Planner is attractive because it actually makes a multi-colored, horizontal time chart the primary interface for project management rather than an extra something you can print or look at on the side. You can make modifications on the fly; right-click to create a new period in your project plan, then select a color, and you’ve already gotten started. You can drag and drop periods around the chart easily — impressive for a web app. Compare that to Microsoft Project’s daunting vertical tree view and you can see the appeal.
You don’t have to forsake Project completely, though; Tom’s Planner can export Project files. You can also share your chart with other people by publishing it to www.tomsplanner.com/shared/name-of-your-schedule. If your project is of the sensitive variety, you can password-lock it.
Tom claims that the app has grown from 240 users to just shy of 14,000 in two months. It’s used by businesses managing their teams and resources, but it’s also used by “individuals planning their weddings, thanksgiving dinners, vegetable gardens or home construction projects,” Tom says. These users are enjoying a free beta testing period, but the product will cost money after the beta period ends.
Tom’s Planner has had a promising start thanks to its user-friendliness, and we’re eager to see how it does in the future, especially once it begins to monetize.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
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