Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Speedy new character debuts on new season of NBC's 'Heroes'

LOS ANGELES—She's not just fast. She's very fast.

Meet Daphne, the speedy new character on NBC's "Heroes," who plans to give the show's superhumans—especially time traveler Hiro and his sidekick, Ando—a run for their money when she debuts on the popular NBC series' upcoming third season, which went back into production last week.

"I'm stealing a secret that's been kept in Hiro's family for a long time that he's just now found," Brea Grant told The Associated Press during a break in filming on location in a high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles. "He stops time right as I grab it, but in that second it took him to grab it, I almost make it out of the office."

Grant doesn't know much about her mysterious new character. Daphne's superpower allows her to operate at three speeds and leave a supersonic wake in her path when Hiro stops time. Grant's not sure where Daphne is from, but she does know the Speedster—that's what she calls herself—has been on her own for a long time.

"Her character is supposed to be Hiro's Joker," said Masi Oka, who plays Hiro. "Batman has The Joker. Hiro has Daphne. This is the season where Hiro finally finds his arch nemesis, and it happens to be this Speedster. I kind of equate it more to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, except Daphne says more than 'meep-meep.'"

Grant said she's been a "Heroes" fan since the show debuted in 2006 and cried tears of joy when she was called to audition.

However, she said the strangest part about being on a show about ordinary people with superhuman abilities has been the images required for the series' intricate computer-generated effects.

"I had to go to this place and stand on a platform in my underwear," said Grant. "They turned it around and took photos of me. It felt like some sort of weird experiment. I imagine those pictures will end up on the Internet at some point."

Grant graduated from the University of Texas before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Last season, she played sassy high school student Jean on NBC's "Friday Night Lights." The 26-year-old actress' short bleach-blond dreadlocked hairdo has become her signature. "Heroes" producers only trimmed her bangs for the role of Daphne.

"It's mine. It was like this," said Grant. "Basically, I dyed my hair for 10 years and at some point it turned into a big pouf, so I started dreading half of it and just letting it go. Every once in a while, I'll dye it to get rid of my roots. People hate it or love it. I'm actually not that attached to it, honestly."

Grant has mighty aspirations for Daphne's future on "Heroes."

"I hope to be in some battle with the other Heroes, whether it's with them, against them, whatever," she said.

The third season is titled "Villains," and will pick up immediately following the events of the second season, which was cut short because of the writers strike. Viewers will learn about the fates of several characters when the show returns in September, including who shot Nathan Petrelli.

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In the Age of TiVo and Web Video, What Is Prime Time?

This week, the television upfronts — in which the broadcast networks present their schedules to advertisers — will open with a mystery. Who stole six million viewers?

That’s the number who were watching prime time television last May, a month affectionately known as “sweeps,” but have disappeared this year, according to the overnight Nielsen ratings. Each of the major broadcast networks, save for Fox, has seen its audience decline this season. The ratings for hit shows like “American Idol” and “CSI” have approached record lows.

Where some of last May’s 44 million viewers went is not a mystery, according to the networks. The writers’ strike this winter deflated the ratings and accelerated the flight of viewers to cable channels.

But the more significant shift can’t be blamed on the strike. In the past television season, there has been a sharp increase in time-shifting. Some of the six million are still watching, but on their own terms, thanks to TiVos and other digital video recorders, streaming video on the Internet, and cable video on demand offerings. So while overall usage of television is steady, the linear broadcasts favored by advertisers are in decline.

The mystery, then, is what the networks should do now.

Brad Adgate, research director of the advertising agency Horizon Media, said that advertisers were paying attention to the changes.

“Part of the reason why advertisers buy television is because of its immediacy,” Mr. Adgate said. As more consumers time-shift their viewing, “there becomes less of a difference between ads in magazines and ads on television.”

Broadcast television remains the dominant medium for advertising, as the $9 billion upfront market attests, but its prime-time audience is gradually shrinking. Time-shifting has cushioned the declines, but in ways that are trickier to measure and pitch to marketers. With on-demand options available in more households than ever, networks have no choice but to adapt.

For starters, the prime-time schedules crafted by television programmers might become less important with each passing year. David Wolf, a senior executive with the consulting firm Accenture’s media and entertainment practice, said that “must-see TV” — the longtime slogan for of NBC’s Thursday night lineup — might become a television relic.

“The days of the ‘lineup’ are numbered,” Mr. Wolf said. In other words, with fewer viewers watching linear over-the-air television, networks can’t assume that a heavyweight lead-in like “Dancing With the Stars” will keep viewers watching all the way to the late local news, a pattern that has helped networks introduce new shows.

It may also mean that matching up programs becomes less important, or at least less potentially damaging. Last fall’s powerhouse Thursday at 9 p.m. match-up — ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” versus CBS’s “CSI” versus NBC’s “The Office” — was a scheduling move influenced by time-shifting. All three shows are popular among the young, upscale viewers who record and stream shows most often.

“I think that scheduling decision would have been a lot harder to make in a non-DVR world,” said a senior network executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid about the issue. “It would have been more of a zero-sum game then.”

Many of the top-rated broadcast shows now have 20 percent to 25 percent ratings gains when DVR viewing is calculated. In urban areas, the gains are even greater. In Los Angeles, fully half the 18- to 49-year-old viewership for some shows, including “The Office” and another NBC sitcom, “30 Rock,” happens on a time-shifted basis.

Some viewers shift their viewing only slightly, overlapping shows scheduled later in the evening.

Of 20 shows time-shifted most often, only one (“Medium”) is on at 10 p.m. As appointment viewing wanes, hit franchises — ones that viewers will record or watch online each week — become even more important.

“As a result of time-shifting, the biggest shows are getting bigger and some of the smaller shows are getting negatively impacted,” the senior television executive said.

At a series of upfront presentations this week, the networks are likely to discuss the dizzying number of new ways to watch television. Last week, for example, the General Electric unit NBC started streaming some episodes to the Apple iPhone, and Microsoft added show downloads to its online store.

The availability of television shows online has become widespread surprisingly quickly. Some series are viewed millions of times a week via free, advertising-supported streaming Web sites like Hulu, Veoh and Fancast (and the network sites themselves). DVRs and online streams offer “a fairly large library of content available on an on-demand basis,” said Amy Banse of Comcast Interactive Media.

“The Hills,” the most popular show on Viacom’s MTV, is a leading example of the shift. Comparing television ratings with online streams is imprecise, but the audience for the series soars when on-demand options are factored in. Since the show returned on March 24, premiere episodes have averaged 3.7 million “live” viewers on Monday nights. Almost a million more viewers have watched each episode using DVRs. On the Internet, episodes and excerpts have been streamed another 32 million times. Some overlap undoubtedly exists, as some fans watch the episode both on TV and online. But every viewing is another advertising opportunity for MTV.

Streaming is particularly popular among younger viewers, who are able to sample shows they would otherwise miss. In a first-of-its-kind experiment, the CW decided last month to stop streaming the teen drama “Gossip Girl” on its Web site and steer viewers to the television broadcast in an effort to bolster its over-the-air ratings. Stephanie Savage, an executive producer, said she worried that the move would alienate viewers. After all, each episode put online had been streamed hundreds of thousands of times.

“There were a lot of question marks,” she said.

But executives at the CW, a joint venture between a Time Warner unit and the CBS Corporation, were pleased with the results when the ratings rose slightly in late April, Ms. Savage noted, and the episodes are still for sale for $1.99 each at Apple’s iTunes store, where they regularly rank No. 1.

Cable operators offer yet another on-demand option. Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the country’s two largest cable providers, are increasingly promoting their video-on-demand platforms, which are mostly associated with movies and premium programming. One-third of United States households now have on-demand capabilities, and Comcast said its platform recorded more than 300 million video views in March, up 50 percent over the previous year.

But of all the time-shifting technologies, digital video recorders are the most popular. One in four American households now uses a digital video recorder to time-shift shows and skip commercials, up from about 15 percent last May. The broadcast networks experienced a 60 percent rise in recorded viewing this season. Last year, in recognition of the growth of DVRs, many television networks converted to a new ratings metric for buying and selling ad time that includes shows watched within three days of the broadcast.

For networks, the DVR is a friend and an enemy: “the classic frenemy,” said Alan Wurtzel, the head of research for NBC.

While they enable viewers to watch more hours of television, they hurt the rate of commercial recognition, as about half of all commercials are skipped in time-shifting modes.

“Honestly, if I could wish away the DVR, I would,” Mr. Wurtzel added. “But I can’t. It’s growing.”

Time Warner is trying a half-measure: letting viewers start an episode anytime during the hour of its broadcast. “I’d like to see this get to the point where we have so much content that consumers can actually plan their lives around knowing that they don’t have to plan their lives,” said Peter C. Stern, the executive vice president for product management at Time Warner Cable.

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How It Does It: The RIAA Explains How It Catches Alleged Music Pirates

To catch college students trading copyrighted songs online, the Recording Industry Association of America uses the same file-sharing software that online pirates love, an RIAA representative told The Chronicle at the organization's offices during a private demonstration of how it catches alleged music pirates. He also said the group does not single out specific colleges in its investigations.

The demonstration was given by an RIAA employee who would speak only on condition of anonymity because of concern that he would receive hate e-mail.

The official explained that one way the RIAA identifies pirates is by using LimeWire, a popular peer-to-peer file-sharing program that is free online and used by many college students (there is also a more-robust version of the program sold for a small fee).

Here's how the process works: The RIAA maintains a list of songs whose distribution rights are owned by the RIAA's member organizations. It has given that list to Media Sentry, a company it hired to search for online pirates. That company runs copies of the LimeWire program and performs searches for those copyrighted song titles, one by one, to see if any are being offered by people whose computers are connected to the LimeWire network. For popular songs, the search can turn up dozens, if not hundreds, of hits. A search on Madonna's latest release, "4 Minutes," turned up more than a hundred users trading various copies of the song.

The LimeWire software allows users who right-click on any song entry and choose "browse host" to see all of the songs that a given file sharer is offering to others for download. The software also lists the IP address of active file sharers. (An IP address is a unique number, assigned by Internet-service providers, that identifies every connection to the Internet.) While the names of the people associated with particular IP addresses are not public, it is easy to find out which IP addresses are registered to each Internet-service provider. Using public, online databases (such as those at or, Media Sentry locates the name of the Internet-service provider and determines which traders are located at colleges or universities.

Swift Detection

The process mimics how pirates themselves locate files but with a significant difference: speed. Media Sentry has automated the process by using scripting software that types in the songs, grabs the IP addresses, checks them, and forwards the information to the RIAA.

The RIAA's first step against campus pirates is usually to send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice, which asks the college to remove infringing content from its network.

In collecting evidence for those takedown notices, Media Sentry investigators do not usually download suspect music files. Instead, the company uses special software to check the "hash," a sort of unique digital fingerprint, of each offered file to verify that it is identical to a copyrighted song file in the RIAA's database. In the rare cases in which the hashes don't match, the investigators download the song and use a software program sold by Audible Magic to compare the sound waves of the offered audio file against those of the song it may be infringing upon. If the Audible Magic software still doesn't turn up a match, then a live person will listen to the song.

If there is a match, Media Sentry investigators will then engage in a so-called TCP connection, or an electronic "handshake," with the computer that is offering the file to verify that the computer is online and is ready to share the song.

Based on that information, the RIAA will send a letter to the college asking for the song to be removed. The letter lists the name of the file and the date and time when Media Sentry investigators saw it available online.

On listservs and in interviews, some university administrators have recently questioned the validity of some of these takedown notices because they say they do not have any record of a download at the named IP address at the specified time. RIAA officials said this is because investigators performed only a "handshake."

Seeking Settlements

In more serious cases of piracy, the RIAA sometimes decides to send out "prelitigation settlement letters," which asks alleged infringers to cough up several thousand dollars in lieu of going to court and potentially facing a much more expensive punishment.

Before sending out the prelitigation settlement letters, Media Sentry investigators always download music files believed to be infringing on licensed songs. Live human beings then listen to those songs to verify that the files are infringing. A letter goes out to the college with the date and time when investigators saw that the song was available for sharing.

While the process for generating both takedown notices and settlement letters is largely automated, the RIAA said that before each warning is sent out, a full-time RIAA employee reviews each case to make sure the claim is legitimate and that the alleged pirate is in the United States. Thanks to the speed and ease of the automated process, though, the RIAA is "able to identify hundreds of instances of infringement on a daily basis," according to RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth. She also acknowledged that the RIAA can tell only when a song is being offered for users to illegally download; investigators have no way of knowing when someone else is actually downloading the song.

The organization does not perform similar automated investigations for file traders on commercial ISP's (that is, Internet- service providers not operated by universities, such as Comcast). All notices received by commercial Internet-service providers are processed manually.

"The automated takedown notice program we have right now is solely university-focused," said the anonymous RIAA representative. "We're trying to make universities aware that they have an issue with peer-to-peer file sharing on their network, and so we don't send automated notices to commercial ISP's, I think because they are generally aware that there's a problem."

The RIAA said it does not single out particular academic institutions to be "made examples of."

"We have no capability of targeting any school at all," said the RIAA representative, who argued that there is a large "misperception" among university administrators that individual colleges are being picked on. "Technically we can't do it. We find what we find with this process, and that's what we send to schools."

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100 Essential Jazz Albums

While finishing “Bird-Watcher,” a Profile of the jazz broadcaster and expert Phil Schaap, I thought it might be useful to compile a list of a hundred essential jazz albums, more as a guide for the uninitiated than as a source of quarrelling for the collector. First, I asked Schaap to assemble the list, but, after a couple of false starts, he balked. Such attempts, he said, have been going on for a long time, but “who remembers the lists and do they really succeed in driving people to the source?” Add to that, he said, “the dilemma of the current situation,” in which music is often bought and downloaded from dubious sources. Schaap bemoaned the loss of authoritative discographies and the “troubles” of the digital age, particularly the loss of informative aids like liner notes and booklets. In the end, he provided a few basic titles from Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, and other classics and admitted to a “pyrrhic victory.”

What follows is a list compiled with the help of my New Yorker colleague Richard Brody. These hundred titles are meant to provide a broad sampling of jazz classics and wonders across the music’s century-long history. Early New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, modal jazz, hard bop, free jazz, third stream, and fusion are all represented, though not equally. We have tried not to overdo it with expensive boxed sets and obscure imports; sometimes it couldn’t be helped. We have also tried to strike a balance between healthy samplings of the innovative giants (Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Davis, Coltrane, etc.) and the greater range of talents and performances.

Since the nineteen-seventies, jazz has been branching out in so many directions that you would need to list at least another hundred recordings, by the likes of Steve Coleman, Stanley Jordan, Joe Lovano, Jacky Terrasson, John Zorn, David Murray, Avishai Cohen, Béla Fleck, Eliane Elias, Roy Hargrove, Dave Douglas, Matthew Shipp, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Fat Kid Wednesdays, and many, many others. There is a suggestion below of the dazzling scope of contemporary jazz, but the focus is on the classic jazz that is Schaap’s specialty.

1. Fats Waller, “Handful of Keys” (Proper, 2004; tracks recorded 1922-43).

2. King Oliver, “King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: The Complete Set” (Challenge, 1997; tracks recorded 1923).

3. Louis Armstrong, “The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings” (Sony, 2006; tracks recorded 1925-29).

4. Louis Armstrong, “The Complete RCA Victor Recordings” (RCA, 2001; tracks recorded 1932-33 and 1946-47).

5. Louis Armstrong, “Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy” (Columbia, 1954).

6. Fletcher Henderson, “Tidal Wave” (Verve, 1994; tracks recorded 1931-1934).

7. Bessie Smith, “The Essential Bessie Smith” (Sony, 1997; tracks recorded 1923-33).

8. Bix Beiderbecke, “The Bix Beiderbecke Story” (Proper, 2003; tracks recorded 1924-30).

9. Django Reinhardt, “The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order” (JSP, 2000; tracks recorded 1934-39).

10. Jelly Roll Morton, “Jelly Roll Morton: 1926-1930” (JSP, 2000).

11. Sidney Bechet, “The Sidney Bechet Story” (Proper, 2001; tracks recorded 1923-50).

12. Duke Ellington, “The OKeh Ellington” (Sony, 1991—tracks recorded 1927-31).

13. Duke Ellington, “Golden Greats” (Disky, 2002; tracks recorded 1927-48).

14. Duke Ellington, “Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band” (RCA, 2003; tracks recorded 1940-42).

15. Duke Ellington, “Ellington at Newport 1956” (Sony, 1999).

16. Duke Ellington, “Money Jungle” (Blue Note Records, 1962).

17. Coleman Hawkins, “The Essential Sides Remastered, 1929-39” (JSP, 2006).

18. Coleman Hawkins, “The Bebop Years” (Proper, 2001; tracks recorded 1939-49).

19. Billie Holiday, “Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles” (Sony, 2007; tracks recorded 1933-44).

20. Teddy Wilson, “The Noble Art of Teddy Wilson” (ASV Living Era, 2002; tracks recorded 1933-46).

21. Lester Young, “The Lester Young/Count Basie Sessions 1936-40” (Mosaic, 2008; available direct through Mosaic).

22. Lester Young, “Kansas City Swing” (Definitive, 2004; tracks recorded 1938-44).

23. Count Basie, “The Complete Decca Recordings” (Verve, 1992; tracks recorded 1937-39).

24. Count Basie, “The Complete Atomic Basie” (Blue Note, 1994; tracks recorded 1958).

25. Benny Goodman, “At Carnegie Hall—1938—Complete” (Columbia, 1999).

26. John Kirby Sextet, “Night Whispers: 1938-46” (Jazz Legends, 2005).

27. Chick Webb, “Stomping at the Savoy” (Proper, 2006; tracks recorded 1931-39).

28. Benny Carter, “3, 4, 5: The Verve Small Group Sessions” (Polygram, 1991; tracks recorded 1954).

29. Charlie Christian, “The Genius of the Electric Guitar” (Definitive, 2005; tracks recorded 1939-41).

30. James P. Johnson, “The Original James P. Johnson: 1942-1945 Piano Solos” (Smithsonian Folkways, 1996).

31. The Nat King Cole Trio, “The Best of the Nat King Cole Trio: The Vocal Classsics, Vol. 1, 1942-1946” (Blue Note, 1995).

32. Charlie Parker, “The Complete Savoy and Dial Sessions” (Uptown Jazz, 2005; tracks recorded 1944-48).

33. Charlie Parker, “Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve” (Polygram, 1988; tracks recorded 1946-54).

34. Charlie Parker, “Best of the Complete Live Performances on Savoy” (Savoy, 2002; tracks recorded 1948-49).

35. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, “Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945” (Uptown Jazz, 2005).

36. Dizzy Gillespie, “The Complete RCA Victor Recordings, 1947-49” (RCA, 1995).

37. Thelonious Monk, “Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1” (Blue Note, 2001; tracks recorded 1947).

38. Thelonious Monk, “Live at the It Club, 1964” (Sony, 1998).

39. Thelonious Monk, “Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane: The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings” (Riverside, 2006).

40. Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh, “Intuition” (Blue Note, 1996; tracks recorded 1949 and 1956).

41. Miles Davis, “The Complete Birth of the Cool” (Blue Note, 1998; tracks recorded 1948-50).

42. Miles Davis, “Bags’ Groove” (Prestige, 1954).

43. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue” (Sony, 1959).

44. Miles Davis, “Highlights from the Plugged Nickel” (Sony, 1995; tracks recorded 1965).

45. Miles Davis, “Bitches Brew” (Columbia, 1969).

46. Bud Powell, “The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1” (Blue Note, 2001; tracks recorded 1949-1951), Vol. 2 (Blue Note, 2001; tracks recorded 1953).

47. Gerry Mulligan, “The Original Quartet with Chet Baker” (Blue Note, 1998; tracks recorded 1952-53).

48. Modern Jazz Quartet, “Django” (Prestige, 1953).

49. Art Tatum, “The Best of the Pablo Solo Masterpieces” (Pablo, 2003; tracks recorded 1953-56).

50. Clifford Brown and Max Roach, “Clifford Brown & Max Roach” (EmArcy, 1954).

51. Sarah Vaughan, “Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown” (EmArcy, 1954).

52. Charles Mingus, “Mingus at the Bohemia (Debut, 1955).

53. Charles Mingus, “Mingus Ah Um” (Columbia, 1959).

54. Charles Mingus Sextet, “Cornell 1964” (Blue Note, 2007).

55. Ella Fitzgerald, “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook” (Verve, 1956).

56. Sonny Rollins, “Saxophone Colossus” (Prestige, 1956).

57. Sonny Rollins, “Night at the Village Vanguard” (Blue Note, 1957).

58. Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, “Sonny Meets Hawk!” (RCA, 1963).

59. Tito Puente, “King of Kings: The Very Best of Tito Puente” (RCA, 2002; tracks recorded 1956-60).

60. Sun Ra, “Greatest Hits—Easy Listening for Intergalactic Travel” (Evidence, 2000; tracks recorded 1956-73).

61. Abbey Lincoln, “That’s Him” (Riverside, 1957).

62. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, “Moanin’” (Blue Note, 1958).

63. Ahmad Jamal Trio, “Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961” (Verve, 1998).

64. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, “Time Out” (Sony, 1959).

65. Jimmy Witherspoon, “The ’Spoon Concerts” (Fantasy, 1989; tracks recorded 1959).

66. Ornette Coleman, “Beauty Is a Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings” (Atlantic, 1993; tracks recorded 1959-61).

67. Ornette Coleman, “Dancing in Your Head” (Horizon, 1973).

68. Freddie Hubbard, “Open Sesame” (Blue Note, 1960).

69. Jimmy Smith, “Back at the Chicken Shack” (Blue Note, 2007; tracks recorded in 1960).

70. Dinah Washington, “First Issue: The Dinah Washington Story” (Polygram, 1993; tracks recorded 1943-61).

71. John Coltrane, “My Favorite Things” (Atlantic, 1960).

72. John Coltrane, “The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings” (GRP, 1997; tracks recorded 1961).

73. John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme” (Impulse!, 1964).

74. John Coltrane, “Ascension” (Impulse!, 1965).

75. Eric Dolphy, “Out There” (New Jazz, 1960).

76. Eric Dolphy, “Out to Lunch!” (Blue Note, 1964).

77. Bill Evans, “The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961” (Riverside, 2005).

78. Jackie McLean, “A Fickle Sonance” (Blue Note, 1961).

79. Stan Getz and João Gilberto, “Getz/Gilberto” (Verve, 1963).

80. Dexter Gordon, “Our Man in Paris” (Blue Note, 1963).

81. Andrew Hill, “Smokestack” (Blue Note, 1963).

82. Lee Morgan, “The Sidewinder” (Blue Note, 1963).

83. Albert Ayler, “Spiritual Unity” (ESP, 1964).

84. Archie Shepp, “Four for Trane” (Impulse!, 1964).

85. Horace Silver, “Song for My Father” (Blue Note, 1964).

86. Wes Montgomery, “Smokin’ at the Half Note” (Verve, 2005; tracks recorded 1965).

87. Cecil Taylor, “Conquistador!” (Blue Note, 1966).

88. Betty Carter, “Betty Carter’s Finest Hour” (Verve, 2003; tracks recorded 1958-92).

89. Frank Sinatra, “Sinatra at the Sands with Count Basie & the Orchestra” (Reprise, 1966).

90. Frank Sinatra, “The Capitol Years” (Capitol, 1990; tracks recorded 1953-62).

91. Nina Simone, “Sugar in My Bowl: The Very Best of Nina Simone, 1967-1972” (RCA, 1998).

92. Pharoah Sanders, “Karma” (Impulse!, 1969).

93. Chick Corea, “Return to Forever” (ECM, 1972).

94. Keith Jarrett, “The Köln Concert, 1975” (ECM, 1999).

95. World Saxophone Quartet, “World Saxophone Quartet Plays Duke Ellington” (Nonesuch, 1986).

96. Charlie Haden and Hank Jones, “Steal Away” (Polygram, 1995).

97. Joshua Redman Quartet, “Spirit of the Moment: Live at the Village Vanguard” (Warner Bros., 1995).

98. Cassandra Wilson, “Traveling Miles” (Blue Note, 1999).

99. Wynton Marsalis Septet, “Live at the Village Vanguard” (Sony, 1999).

100. The Bill Charlap Trio, “Live at the Village Vanguard” (Blue Note, 2007).

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Free Music Studio Means No More Excuses

Virtual instruments may be going the way of recorded music: free and online.

We've seen plenty of sites that let you make or mix music in a rudimentary way, but none that offer the deep feature set of Hobnox AudioTool. This free online electronic music studio lets you compose with two TB-303 Bass Line generators, Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines and two banks of effects pedals including three delays, crusher, detune, flanger, reverb, a parametric equalizer and a compressor. By clicking the mouse button, you can drag virtual cables between any output and any input to customize the setup.

Composing music in this way is a bit tedious, because you need to add and shape each note individually. But this is exactly how many electronic musicians work, because it allows so much control over each element of the loops and allows you to create melodies and beats without playing them.

Testing AudioTool, I encountered no serious issues, and was able to create and edit beats in the same way that one would do with Reason or similar software. The only time I noticed a drop-out was when I messed with the length of a sequence as it was playing, which isn't something you really need to do anyway. The program loads with a demo song already in place, but you can start your own composition by clicking the Clear Pattern button on each synthesizer.

The site currently requires Java, although that could change soon. The developers at Hobnox who made AudioTool would prefer to use Flash entirely, but say its support for dynamic audio is lacking. They suggest that those who want to support online virtual instruments should join the Make Some Noise campaign, which hopes to convince Adobe to add sound manipulation features to Flash and to shore up one specific unstable audio feature, allowing Hobnox and other developers to push the envelope with more evolved online music tools.

As of right now, the only way to export a song from AudioTool is to record it as it plays using Total Recorder, Audio Hijack or similar software. Hobnox says it's working on a new version of the tool will allow users to save and load songs and will add new effects, a synthesizer, a drum computer, a sequencer and even a sample editor. In addition, the next version should support collaboration, so that groups of friends can work on the same song.

If you'd like to get started with Hobnox AudioTool but haven't programmed beats before, watch this simple tutorial.

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Movie Trailer: Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

The movie trailer for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona has hit the web, in preparation of the film’s premiere at Cannes. The story follows “two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) come to Barcelona for a summer holiday. Vicky is sensible and engaged to be married; Cristina is emotionally and sexually adventurous. In Barcelona, they’re drawn into a series of unconventional romantic entanglements with Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a charismatic painter, who is still involved with his tempestuous ex-wife Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz). Set against the luscious Mediterranean sensuality of Barcelona, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen’s funny and open-minded celebration of love in all its configurations.”

It certainly looks like Woody Allen’s sexiest movie. I’m sure a lot of men will check it out just for the scene where Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz get it on. And apparently there’s apparently a sexy threesome scene between Bardem, Johansson and Cruz. Although there is something creepy about knowing that Woody Allen is standing behind the camera. Wait, didn’t he write this movie too? If you were a 72-year-old famous Hollywood director, what’s to stop you from essentially writing a dream porn where you could cast your fantasy starlets. I’m sure we’ll hear more about the movie when it premieres at Cannes.

the films of martin scorsese pt.1

15 scifi movies 15 famous architectural locations

Science Fiction Movies and famous architecture have a particularly strong tradition, however the link is not always flattering. Since much science fiction deals with a dystopic vision of the future, architecture is often seen as part of the environmental cause, from Philadelphia’s abandoned, alienating, solitary confinement based, Quaker prison in 12 Monkeys to the architectural brutalism of Brunel University in the literally brutal Clockwork Orange.

In the Truman show, the blandness and superficiality of Seaside in Florida makes a real location feel like a set, and the accidental neo-classical fascist style Ronald Reagan building in Washington is a perfect authoritarian backdrop for Minority Report.

(Ranked by user votes) Vote on and review the contenders below.
The facade of Londons famous Battersea Power station was used to represent Victory Mansions in the film version of 1984. The combination of neo-classical and power making it an obvious choice.
When Dickens visited America, he said there were two things worth seeing, this building and Niagara Falls.

Just as modernist architecture was built with the best intentions to sweep people up from the slums into pristine but ultimately alienating boxes, the ESP was built under the auspices of Quaker reformist ideas.

It was built to scoop prisoners out of squalid places of violent interaction with other prisoners, to clean monastic solitary confinement with a bible, where no interaction with human beings would return people to a pure state.

Instead it turned people insane.

In 12 Monkeys the main protagonist is locked up here and deemed crazy, which he begins to be, unable to communicate an unbelievable story to others.

Frank Lloyd Wrights decorative modern LA house with its distinctive Bismuth crystal like blocks is the background for the interior of Decker's apartment. Elsewhere in the film famous modern buildings such as Chicago's Hancock Tower are the influence for sets.

The Ennis house is both modern and timeless, inventing a genuinely new decorative style - and its in LA, making it highly appropriate for Blade Runner which mixed old and new to create a vision of the future which wouldnt date quite as obviously as yesterdays interpretation of modern.

This Mayan site in Guatemala was the setting for the rebel base on Yavin in the original Star Wars.

So little is known about the Mayans that their architecture makes a suitable substitute for something genuinely other worldly.

The house in Woody Allen's Sleeper is the Sculptured House in Colorado, by Charles Deaton, which was recently listed for sale.

The sheer absurdity of the massive organic concrete structure, although magnificent, is at the same time an overblown caricature, perfect for the parody of modernism in Woody Allen's science fiction comedy.

Frank Lloyd Wrights Marin Civic Center was the headquarters for the Gattaca corporation in Gattaca and also featured in George Lucas' THX-1138.

In THX-1138, this was merely a conveniently local piece of architecture that looked like a contemporary vision of the future, rather like the Texas modernism in Logans Run.

In Gattaca, this building fitted the overall consciously retro-futuristic style.

The Diva scene was shot in the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

The Fifth Element, with its Gaultier clothing and cartoon like sets, mixed high camp with sci-fi, and there is nothing quite as high camp as the wedding cake like interior of an Opera House.

Herzog and de Meuron's Tate Modern art gallery in a renovated power station serves as the Ministry of Arts in Children of Men. It is a giant personal apartment filled with the most valuable art, ultimately rendered worthless, in a world with no future.

The ministry is owned in its entirety by Theo's cousin Nigel who is the very epitome of a prosperous Blairite, just as the building itself is a monument to Londons recent wealth. You can't help but feel that the choice of this building is deliberate and satirical.

Both the BMW HQ and the Munich Olympic Village were used as locations for Rollerball, however the Olympic Stadium, engineered by Frei Otto might have been a better stand in for modernity.
This classic American house was used for the interior of Dr. Emmett's house in Back to the Future and for the house of the grandfather of the character played by Bruce Willis in Armageddon.

Interestingly, although Greene and Greene were groundbreaking architects, their stye has become so emblematic of America that this house was used in these films not to represent a mildly quirky take on the future or modern, but the comfort of the present and of home.

The modernist Corbusier inspired Alton estate (Corbusier never built anything in England) was used as the setting for Fahrenheit 451

These were hailed as great buildings, at the time, raised on piloti and allowing an expensive West London landscape to flow underneath them. The film makers seem to have known better, in hindsight.

Most of a Clockwork Orange is set in concrete late 60s British architecture, such as Brunel University, which formed part of the brutalist movement, highly appropriate for a film about mechanized brutality.

Rich people in the film inhabit more traditional buildings, except for this one example of more sensitive modernism. The interior of the writers house in Clockwork Orange is a particularly obscure but notable piece of architecture, being designed by both Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, when they were together in Team 4.

A variety of star modern architects like Steven Holl and Aldo Rossi worked on the model town of Seaside in Florida. Like the name, the result is bland and derivative, the perfect example of how aiming for just "nice" is not always a good thing.

The very mediocrity of Seaside made it the perfect setting for the flawed utopia of the Truman show.

The irony of the hugely expensive taxpayer paid center in Washington, named after the president who championed small government, Ronald Reagan, is matched only by its striking resemblance to 1930's, femininity stripped, neo-classicism produced by the Nazis.

The Orwellian police agency in Minority Report, used this building as its appropriate setting.