I’m a huge fan of live jazz. You really can’t understand the experience of jazz improvisation without witnessing it live for yourself. Even many, if not most, studio recordings are polished to the point where the essence of live is missing. While the studio creates a valuable document, the performance is where you really get to tap into that elusive thing that gives jazz is uniqueness.
Since my kiddos came along, I don’t get out as much as I’d prefer. So I’ve substituted an obsession with collecting significant recordings of live shows by players I admire. Through this, I’ve found Michael Brecker solo concerts, rare Ornette Coleman performances and obscure tunes played by heavy weights. Where did I locate these, you might ask?
Live Concert Recording Resources
I use Dimeadozen.org to track down live shows. There’s a nice community of jazz enthusiasts and a wealth of shows up for trade – as I write this, I’m downloading a Don Grolnick concert from 1984! They trade via BitTorrent which often associates with less reputable sites (like PirateBay and the like…), but isn’t inherently illegal. Their policies try to safe-gaurd artists’ rights while still making shows for music fans attainable.
Are there drawbacks? There are a few potential issues I’m aware of. Dime has taken efforts to be *legal*, but they really exist in a gray area. In many ways, these files are typically performances of copyrighted material which, recorded or not, are bound by those conventions. Venues pay royalties (like BMI fees) to allow this material to be performed, so these concerts should be covered under that, but shows aren’t usually intended to be fan-documented and then traded. Dime does this service for free though, so the “harm” is really only theoretical. Some artists don’t like the idea of their live material being traded. Others could care less. But at least Dime can say they’re not robbing artists of profit.
Another potential pit-fall…you could theoretically download corrupted or virus-laden material. Dime does a pretty good job restricting this sort of thing via its method of signing up – only a very limited number of users get to be involved. And the moderators and community likely come down hard on offenders. I’ve been acquiring live shows for years through this source and have never even had a poor transfer, much less a corrupted file.
Last thing…which is only a problem if you’re not a member. Its hard to get an user account. They have a strict cap of users, which have to be active or their accounts are closed. You have to wait until someone is booted to get one. I imagine open slots are getting progressively more rare. All I can say is keep refreshing your browser. They once said to me in an email that they purge accounts every 10 minutes, so you’ll eventually get the sign-up screen.
Software? My favorite BitTorrent client is Transmission for Mac. Its very reliable, super easy to use, and a very tiny program so you wont get all cluttered up. Installation took all of 30 seconds…mostly spent on finding the website.
Then all you do is find a show you want via the Browse or Search options. Click the underlined link at the top of the show’s page to get the tracker file (which tells Transmission or the like where to connect and draw from) and add it to your client.
A few matters of etiquette
- Dime is a community of people sharing shows. Don’t grab and go. If you download a show, stick around after you get it (by leaving your client open) until people have had a chance to share from you. I try to share at least a full copy back into the pool before I close a “seed”.
- Dime requires you have a share ratio of at least .25. That’s 25% shared back into the system. My advice? Make your first download something active (this is easy if you get something recently posted from the Browse list), and leave it up awhile…like days. You’ll get a really positive ratio and not have to stress about getting cut off.
- Be nice. These shows were recorded by people taking a degree of risk and are shared out of their kindness and fan enthusiasm. Bare minimum, take a moment to thank them on the forums. And honor any reasonable requests in the listing (usually, don’t convert to a lossy format like mp3 and re-share, and don’t resell for profit). The community works very much on an honor system.
Good luck…hope you find something good. If you do, come back and tell me about it!