Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Do You LALA?

The availability of free music and video on the internet continues to spread. It is clear now that there is no stopping it. And as bandwidth and memory gets cheaper, the Global Free Jukebox comes closer and closer to being the way people want to hear their music. The newest trend to watch is free music streams – like Pandora and the recent addition: This site, recently purchased by Apple, allows you to stream and listen to whole albums for free, download and purchase the music or – and here is where it gets a bit weird: you can listen to each song or album once for free, and if you like what you hear, rather than buy and download the song, you can pay just 10 cents per song and listen to it as much as you want from their website. Confusing? It is simple to use. Go to
type in an artist name (like George Kahn, for example), and start listening!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jazz Leaves the Museum and enters the Old Age Home

Sad news continues to pour in for the music business in general, and jazz music in particular. I may be overly pessimistic, with the (temporary?) end of the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal made me sad. It does seem like the glorious "Long Tail" of the internet may actually become, as the brilliant Hugh MacLeod said, a Short Tail with a large Pile of Dead Bodies next to it.

In an article on August 9, Terry Teachout quoted statistics from an NEA Survey of Public Participation completed in 2008. Here is a sampling:
- In 2002 (the last survey date) 10.8% of adult Americans attended at least one jazz performance. In 2008, that number fell to 7.8%, a 28% drop in attendance.
- The median age of adults that admitted to seeing jazz was 46. In 1982 (the first year the NEA did this study) the median age was 29.
- Even amongst college-educated adults, which would seem to be the main jazz audience, the attendance has shrunk from 19.4% in 1982 to 14.9% today, a 23% loss in attendance.

These numbers show that the jazz audience is both aging and shrinking, regardless of any attempts to blend hip hop or rap or trance music into "jazz". Or perhaps people are just afraid to admit that they went to a "jazz" concert when they went to see Chris Botti or (dare I call him jazz?) Kenny G.

And as the jazz audience ages, it puts us in the exact same demographics as the other "high art" forms of classical music, ballet, opera and theater: the average age of people attending these events in 2008 was from 46-49 years old. So in a way there is more competition for a shrinking and graying audience.

So what can we do today to change this? My experience over and over again is that we need to get people exposed to the music so that they can enjoy the groove, the excitement and the personality of great live jazz music (as was proven again the other week when I played for between 500 -700 enthusiastic people at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Allowing a jazz group open for Phish or Dave Matthews might help. We need to get out of the Jazz Ghetto before it turns into an Old Age Home, and then a graveyard.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August Update

1. The next two stops for the West Coast Jazz World Tour are at the Hip Kitty in Claremont, Ca. Two very different shows:
COURTNEY LEMMON with THE GEORGE KAHN TRIO will be performing at our new favorite jazz club, The Hip Kitty in Claremont, CA on Friday August 21, from 8:00 – Midnight. No cover charge, a great bar and fondue if you are hungry. It’s a very cool scene in the Inland Empire
Then, on September 12 The George Kahn Quartet featuring Pat Kelley will be at The Hip Kitty for a Swinging Saturday Night to kick off the new school year. Prepare for an audience filled with hip kats and kittens from the Claremont colleges. For more updated info, go to the calendar at

2. Somewhere between 500-700 people showed up at LACMA on July 24 to see the George Kahn West Coast Jazz Quintet. It was an amazing show, with Larry Klimas on sax, Gabe Johnson on trumpet, Eric Sittner on bass, Clayton Cameron on drums, and George on piano. Here are some photos to give you a sense of the excitement. Looking forward to being back at LACMA again in 2011!

3. I am a member of ARC (Artists Recording Collective), and this group, led by my long time friend and sax player Chris Burnett, is launching the next level of their campaign to spread the word about independent jazz artists.

If you want to see what ARC is up to, or if you are interested in becoming a member, come check it out at

4. So many cool links to check out on the internet right now
1) Someone did me one better, and put together a Google calendar of all the FREE music events in Los Angeles for the month of August: 2009 SUMMER CONCERT CALENDAR

2) If you have not heard of Hugh MacLeod yet, you owe it to yourself to visit the cartoonist and bargain philosopher at
3) Here are Regina Brett’s Life Lessons (by the way, she is NOT 90 years old...)

4) And of couse there is always the end of the internet
I just bumped into this again
Thought it was funny

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jazzy Things To Do This Summer in Los Angeles

The summer schedule has been set, and there are some great FREE shows this summer:
The GEORGE KAHN WEST COAST JAZZ QUINTET will be performing at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) on Friday, July 24. We’ll be performing songs from various albums, and introducing some new material from the new album, “2010”. The music starts at 6:00 PM. But make sure you get there early, the last time we played there it was PACKED!

COURTNEY LEMMON with THE GEORGE KAHN TRIO will be performing at our new favorite jazz club, The Hip Kitty in Claremont, CA on Friday August 21, from 8:00 – Midnight. No cover charge, a great bar and fondue if you are hungry. It’s a very cool scene in the Inland Empire

In keeping with my desire to keep “with it” on the internet, I have finally uploaded some photos from the LACMA concert in 2006, as well as photos from the “LIVE IN HEMET” recording session from January. (This session will be part of the upcoming album, “2010”) You will see great photos of Courtney, MB, Karl Vincent, Justo almario, Gabe Johnson, Andy Suzuki (who sends greetings from Berlin) and others.

I LOVE SUMMER, and all the music that it brings to Los Angeles. Here are a few of the events I am planning to see over the next two months:
Luba Mason at Catalina Bar And Grill on July 8
Justo Almario at Grand Performances on 7/17
Ernie Watts at Hollywood and Highland on July 21
The Bad Plus at Grand performances on 7/24
Four Way Free at the House of Blues on 7/29
Pancho Sanchez at Hollywood and Highland August 25

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Next Up: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I have put together another all-star band to play at LACMA on July 24. I hope you can join me from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. The place always fills up, so plan to come early.
The band will have myself on piano, my main man Karl Vincent on bass, and the amazing Clayton Cameron on drums (Clayton played with Tony Bennett for about 15 years...). On horns will be John Fumo and Larry Klimas, both amazing players that happen to be in between gigs so they can join me. Larry and John work together in Neil Diamond's horn section, and John has been playing recently in the pit band for Dirty Dancing at The Pantages Theater. Larry also travels as a member of Chicago (remember the original rock big band?) This is going to be FUN - and its FREE - please mark your calendars and I will see you there.
BP Grand Entrance | Free, no reservations
FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Grand Finale at the Jazz Bakery

The final performance at The Jazz Bakery was a smash. The concert, which was held as a benefit to raise money for the Santa Monica High School Jazz Band, was so well attended that additional seats had to be added. More jazz fans came during intermission and filled the balcony as well, organizers said.

Attendance for the concert not only raised $1,700 for the Jazz Band — helping them to buy new charts, keep their instruments in top shape and assist in covering costs for the band to attend competitions and festivals — it also was a great send off for The Jazz Bakery. The Jazz Bakery is continuing its search for a new location, after closing its doors with a 16-year-run in the Helms Bakery locale. Ruth Price has done an incredible job over the years, and she and the JB board are dedicated to making it continue in temporary locations at first, and in a new home in the future.

George's band consisted of George on Piano, Pat Kelley on guitar, Doug Webb on sax, Karl Vincent on bass and M. B. Gordy on drums. The SAMOHI Jazz Band is under the direction of Tom Whaley, Arts Coordinator for the Santa Monica School District.
See the article published in the Santa Monica Daily Press

Monday, May 4, 2009

Farewell To The Jazz Bakery

The Jazz Bakery, situated for 16 glorious years in the Historic Helms Bakery Complex, will be presenting its last performances in that location on Sunday, May 31, 2009.

Jazz Pianist, George Kahn, will be hosting a special Farewell Performance starting at
3:30 – 6:00 PM that afternoon. In addition to George’s West Coast Jazz Quartet,
this FINAL SHOW at The Jazz Bakery will feature the 18-piece
Santa Monica High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Tom Whaley.

Along with George on piano, the West Coast Jazz Quartet will feature Pat Kelley on guitar, Karl Vincent on bass, M. B. Gordy on drums, and some very special guests. George will be playing selections from his newest album “Cover Up!”, as well as song tributes to Shorty Rogers, Wayne Shorter and other jazz greats.

George Kahn, winner of last summer’s Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival, has released 6 CD’s. His “Cover Up!” has received glowing reviews and major radio play across the country. Selections on the CD include John Mayer’s “Waiting For The World To Change”; The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and Roger and Hammerstein’s
“My Favorite Things” along with original jazz compositions.

Tickets are $25.00 each, or $15.00 for students with ID. All proceeds from the concert will be donated to the SAMOHI Jazz Band to help with the purchase of new instruments and music.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by credit card by calling the Jazz Bakery.

The JAZZ BAKERY is located at 3233 HELMS AVE LA, CA 90034.
Phone: 310-271-9039.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Technology Is A Pain in the Butt!

I had the great pleasure of recording in the studio for a day with Andy Suzuki, Karl Vincent and M. B. Gordy in January of this year. It was a wonderful studio called Park Hill Studios in Hemet, CA. We had a wonderful time, laid down 6 new tracks. And at the end of the day, I got to take the master tapes home - on DA-88s, which was the format this studio uses.

You would think it would be easy to find a place to get someone to run me a CD off the DA-88s, so I could listen to the tracks - but no. Seems that this format fell out of favor about 8 years ago, when hard-drives became the basic place to "record" onto, bypassing tape altogether.

So what I really needed is to find someone with a couple of DA-88 machines, so they could transfer the traks onto my hard drive using Protools for the basic program, and then get a rough mix burned onto a CD to reference.

Well, almost 2 months later, the project is almost done. The two people I found that had the machines both discovered that they had not used them for so long, they were not functioning, and they needed to be cleaned before the transfer could be done. Finally, the wonderful Craig Pettigrew was able to help me get the transfer done, but did not have the equipment to get into the editing/transfer part of the project. So this will go to my good friend Carl Sealove this week, and then, by sometime next week I should actually be able to LISTEN to what the hell we did back in January.

This got me thinking - what about my other albums? Are they also on formats that are basically not being used any more? IS it worth updating them as well?

I found that the albums since Midnight Brew have all been recorded onto hard drives, and I have them all stored away - of course I should try starting them up, to see if they even function any more.

The first 2 albums it looks like I do not have the 16 track masters, I just have the master CD and some digital tape back-ups. No going back there to remaster, I don't think. I found something that looked like a HUGE floppy disc, about the size of an old 45 RPM single. Don't think too many people have a machine that will read that stuff anymore.

Life gets more and more confusing. At least I don't have to find a place to bake my 2 inch master tapes anymore.
Have a great night - signing off now

Friday, February 20, 2009

CD BABY Rules the Indie Roost at the Grammys

The music world has changed forever. How do we know?

Although I did not make the cut for a Grammy nomination in 2008, Grammy madness is alive for CD Baby artists!

When CD Baby first started, it was nearly unheard of for a truly independent artist to earn a Grammy nomination (much less win one). Now, a little more than 10 years later, at least 15 (yes, 15!) of our artists were recognized for their outstanding achievements with a Grammy nomination in 2008 alone! The list, with links to the artists, is included at the end of this email, and we are thrilled to report that veteran independents (and CD Baby artists) Burning Spear and Pete Seeger both got to take home one of those little golden gramophones! Congratulations to you and all of our nominated artists.

CD Baby artist payments in 2008 up 28% to a record $34 million!
As the major label machine loses its stranglehold grip in the awards arena, it is taking some heavy hits in the sales department, too. While CD sales from major labels and large indies were down 14% in 2008, CD Baby's CDs grew (2%) thanks to hard-working music makers like you. And digital revenues were up a whopping 45%. In total, CD Baby's artist payments were up 28% in 2008. Since our inception, CD Baby has paid out $98 million to independent artists. How's that for an accomplishment?

And if you don't know this, if you release an independent album that sells, YOU TOO can be a voting member of the Grammys. Let's get in there and turn the tide against the dinosaur record conglomerates. Radiohead did it, you can too! Just go to for more info.

If you would like to see a list of CDBABY Artists that were nominated, go here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If We All Give a Little...

I have been moved by the change taking place in Washington, and the shift in the people of our country from working from FEAR to working from HOPE. I am basically a very cynical person when it comes to human nature. Once again referring to Steven Levitt's book "Freakonomics": "Morality, it could be argued, represents that way that people would like the world to work - whereas economics represents how it actually does work."
But the big shift that Obama is presenting is not just adding more big government, but asking each person in the US to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to make things better.
In this vein, I have, for the last four years, held an annual fundraiser called "Jazz For The Holidays". I put together a kick-ass band, we hold the event at the Catalina Bar and Grill, the Premiere Jazz Club in Hollywood, CA, and we raise money for the homeless of Los Angeles.
We specifically raise money for PATH Ventures, an organization that is building "temporary transitional housing" for people in need. PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) provides services for the homeless - giving them a place to eat, get clean, use the phone for job placement and creating resumes, etc. But as well all know, once you fall it is hard to get back up - so PATH Ventures gives these folks a first place to live again as they start their first job, or continue in vocational school to work towards getting that job. It is a wonderful organization, headed by Shane Goldsmith, who herself was a homeless person as part of her resume.
This years show in December was the best ever - I was joined by MB Gordy, Karl Vincent, Pat Kelley, Gabe Johnson, Robert Kyle, and guest vocalists Dianne Wright, Crystal Knighton and the amazing Dwight Trible. And when the night was over not only did the sell-out crowd have a great night of music, we raised over $10,000 for PATH Ventures.
What can YOU do this year to Give a Little?...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Big Musical Picture: Where is Digital Music Going?

With 2008 finally biting the dust, it is time for a little review.
CD sales plummeted over the past three years, from 553.4 million in 2006 to 360.6 million in 2008. MP3 (digital)sales grew from 32.6 million to 65.8 million during the same time period, according to SoundScan. (Remember one "digital" album is equal to 10 individual downloads).
Although legal downloads have more than doubled over the last 3 years, they are still a small fraction of the illegal download and music sharing that takes place on the internet.
The cost of production is dropping every year. Anyone with a computer today can now create their own music (there are plenty of scary examples of this on Youtube and other places). A whole generation of music listeners now expect the music to be free, or almost-free.
As Stephen Levitt said in FREAKONOMICS, "regulation of a legal market is bound to fail when a healthy black market exists for the same product". This is why the RIAA law enforcement has not worked. It is the same reason why gun control does not work. You can pass all the laws you want, but a person that wants a gun can always get one on the black market. Even if the US passed a law to make no new guns as of tomorrow, there is an OCEAN of available guns right now that people can get if they want one. It is the same with free music on the internet.
SO then the BIG question is, How do I make money in a FREE MUSIC market? The answer is found in many places: viral marketing, cross promotion, doing it yourself so you have little or no overhead (like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead), or be the person that runs the "tollgate", like Myspace Music. The concept there is that while people stream the music for free, Myspace makes it up in advertising on their website.
We are in a brave new musical world, and I can only hope that those of us that believe in quality will keep up the fight to bring great music into the world, where basic economics does not seem to value our art.