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Philadelphia Jazz Label Dreambox Media To Celebrate Thirtieth Anniversary With Final DVD "Flicks Sticks & Tones"

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Jim Miller
Dreambox Media will issue its last release by the end of 2016, coinciding with the Jazz label’s 30th anniversary. Originally Encounter Records solely to promote his band Reverie, founder and drummer Jim Miller considers 1986 the year the label officially started, as the September 1999 Jazz Times pointed out, “because it was then that vocalist / educator Suzanne Cloud…had similar frustrations and came to him to release her recording; she then began to spread the word to other musicians” (note: Cloud is now Executive Director of the non-profit Jazz Bridge). A Philadelphia Weekly piece from earlier that same year stated that “…like punk rockers, they bristle about musicians having absolute control of their music and rail against major record labels with conviction…” A later PW profile from February 2004 described the Dreambox vibe as “real Philly jazz, fighting the good fight against smooth-jazz pabulum and the mindless industry that surrounds it.” Its roster eventually grew to over 50 artists with more than 100 releases, continuing “to do a fine job documenting Philadelphia’s Jazz scene” (August 2005 issue, Cadence Magazine). Upon being honored as “Best of Philly Jazz Record Label” in 1999, Philadelphia Magazine declared that Dreambox Media, a “musician-run independent label, promotes local jazz giants and rising stars. Its efforts to revive this city’s outstanding jazz tradition deserve applause—and a listen.”

Awarded as a “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2013 “for activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of Jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities,” Miller apologizes “unfortunately, recognition for good intentions never equaled economic success. We had a few years in the mid-‘90s when the thing was self-sustaining- still nothing to write home about- but both before and since then, it has constantly been on life-support…at my expense, which has become untenable. Before pulling the plug though, I want to go out with why it was named Dreambox Media in the first place. It was intended to be a musicians’ co-op for any type of expression: not only audio recordings, but print and visual as well.”

Thus, announcing the upcoming release of Flicks Sticks & Tones (DMJM-1143).

ADVANCE PRESS FOR Flicks Sticks & Tones

“Utter amateurish pretentiousness…an open-to-individual interpretation, stream-of-consciousness barrage of seemingly unrelated images mired in its own incoherent pomposity and set to ‘music’ (if one can indeed call it that) which is very difficult to listen to. The contrasting opening and closing sections are obviously influenced by Tolstoy’s interminable Война́ и мир, which itself, of course, owes a heavy debt to Schopenhauer."—Deeply disturbed film critic Leonard Sleazak

“I laughed, I cried…but mostly I asked myself ‘What the f__k was that all about?’”—Viewer who wishes to remain anonymous

“The suite’s intrada begins in the key of Eb. The second movement modulates between Bb, Gb, A natural and back to Bb; the third section moves to Ab, while the fourth changes to C natural. The fifth movement returns to Ab, and the sixth is in Bb. The codetta, while seemingly resolving back to Eb, actually ends on D7(♯9)/F, a misterioso suspension of the whole affair.”—Mr. Analytico, your high-school music teacher

A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF Flicks Sticks & Tones

In 1932’s Education and the Social Order, Bertrand Russell wrote “I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: ‘The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair.’ In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.” This statement is the inspiration for the first track, “In One Ear, Out the Other.”

Track #2, “Sticks and Tones” continues the history of war as continual mindless insanity escalates. An antidote is Jazz… specifically PHILLY JAZZ, this great land of ours’ gift to the world…the most democratic music ever made: Chaos with discipline, freedom with structure, spontaneity with selflessness.

The future ain’t what it used to be. We were implicitly promised flying cars. Where are our flying cars? We got military drones instead… ”Nostalgia for the Future.” But how lucky to be alive at exactly the right time to have witnessed and admired – however briefly – such blissful beauty…”Like Up in the Sky” is track #4. Jef Lee Johnson posthumously appeared to Jim Miller in a dream (riding a pushmi-pullyu, no less) after he’d finished the rough demos for this suite of tunes and Jef strongly suggested that Jim make accompanying conceptual videos for each of them. Thus, this project is ultimately dedicated to the memory and spirit of Jef Lee Johnson.

For the last track, “God hates flags” may be more than just a bad pun on one of the hateful slogans of a certain cretinous Kansas “church group.” Considering the content of the opening videos, the hypothetical question is asked “How About This” instead?

COMPLETE TRACK LISTINGS FOR Flicks Sticks & Tones

1. In One Ear, Out the Other (6:41)
Scene selections: Bone Dance / Don’t Talk
2. Sticks and Tones (6:55)
Scene selection: Jazz Antidotes
3. Nostalgia for the Future (8:18)
Scene selections: The Fast Ones / Man on the Moon / Intermission
4. Like Up in the Sky (6:28)
Scene selections: Star Incubators / Get a Load of Bliss
5. The Fellini’s Mutual (6:16)
Scene selections: Carnival Knowledge / Gun Fun / Cereal Killer
6. How About This? (10:58)
Scene selections: An Easy Choice / Credits (Approx. total time = 45:31)

TYRONE BROWN: Zeta electric upright with Pirastro Obligato strings, Evans bass amp
DAVE HOTEP: Guitar-tronics
CHRIS SIMONINI: Keyboards
E.J. YELLEN: EWI, tenor sax
JIM MILLER: Drums, percussion, Dream cymbals, all compositions

Music performed and recorded live in concert on April 8, 2015 in Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University, Glassboro NJ by John Vines. Edited and mixed by Jim Miller. All videos edited, produced and directed by Jim Miller.

The six discrete videos (minus the DVD’s bonus “extras”) will soon be individually rolled out on a staggered schedule at Dreambox Media's YouTube Channel.

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