Christmas Collaboration on YouTube

This really great Christmas surprise comes courtesy of my friend Rahsheen.

He took the initiative and added some more holiday mojo to my solo guitar version of White Christmas.

Dig it. 


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Season's Greetings from Rob Michael, Solo Jazz Guitar: White Christmas

My way of giving thanks for all the wonderful support I've received this year. I truly appreciate it.

Happy Holidays!

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Why in the world would I give my music away for FREE?

A couple of weeks ago I conducted an experiment with the Atmos Trio bandcamp site.

It was toward the beginning of the holiday season and I was in a giving mood, so I priced all of Atmos Trio's albums (which include sheet music along with music files.) at a "Pay what You Want (even nothing)" price. I'm accustomed and happy to giving music away for free. I've always offered individual song downloads for free and had a low minimum price set for albums. But I offered everything for free to anyone who was interested. 

Over the course of the 3 Day Special, many more people than normal downloaded the 2 albums "Atmos Trio" and "Atmos Plays Waters." They helped spread the word about the opportunity for "Free Atmos Trio tunes" on Twitter and Facebook. It was nice to get such a favorable response from people who seemed genuinely appreciative of the music.

But something else rather interesting occurred as well: More than 50% of those that downloaded opted to pay for the music. Some paid far more than any price I would consider setting. Was this merely the result of a period of actively promoting the music? Maybe. Should I price my music at the  "Pay what You Want (even nothing)" price all the time? Maybe. 

Why in the world would I give my music away for FREE? I would much prefer people hear the music and form some opinion on it rather than have it be locked away behind a price tag somewhere.

That's why.">Look Here by Atmos Trio

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My sessions with The Joe Henderson Memorial Big Band

I played with The Joe Henderson Memorial Big Band led by Warren Gale Jr. until until mid 2009 when, due to CA state budget cuts, the group had to be disbanded. This was a stellar group of musicians, many of whom played with Joe over the course of his long career.

These tunes were recorded in a 2007 session.

Trumpets: Warren Gale, John Christensen, Dave Fava 

Trombones: Jules Rowles, Chuck Bennett

Saxes: Mel Martin, Pete Yellin, Tim Divine, Jean Fineberg, Dave Tidball, Jim Rothermel, Amelia Timbang Catalano 

Rhythm Section: Rob Michael: Guitar, Dave Udolf & Benny Watson: Piano, Paul Smith: Bass, Bob Belanski: Drums

<a href=" Zolton  by  AtmosTrio ">Zolton</a>  by  <a href=" Latest tracks by AtmosTrio ">AtmosTrio</a>

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Atmos Trio 3-Day Holiday Music Special

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Purchase securely here: Amazon iTunes

Happy Holidays

We have new online store: the Atmos Trio Bandcamp site. Here you can listen to tunes for FREE, embed players on your web sites and/or purchase downloads.

We so appreciate the support that we've received all year that we're offering a special gift for you. Next week, starting December 7th through the 9th, both of our albums "Atmos Trio" and "Atmos Plays Waters" are available to you for a "Pay What You Want (even nothing)" price. 

If you would like the music for yourself or for a gift for someone else, you may have them FREE or you can pay a price of your choosing. The albums include High-Quality (DRM-free) Digital downloads AND sheet music for select tunes. Enjoy!

If these newsletter aren't enough Atmos Trio contact for you, please connect with us on Twitter or Facebook. You'll surely get your fix there.

That's about it for now. See you on the "other side."

Rob  Facebook Fan Page YouTube

 @AtmosTrio on Twitter   Atmos Trio Blog Update your information

Purchase securely here: Amazon iTunes

Upcoming Shows/Events:
Date: Location: Venue: Ticket Price:  
12/10/2009 American Canyon, CA Ustream Concert (map) No Cover (buy) Details >>
Full show/event calendar >>

FanBridge - Powering Valuable Fan Relationships

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Pay What You Want (even nothing...) for "Atmos Plays Waters" for the next 24 hours.

Enjoy the latest album by the Atmos Trio "Atmos Plays Waters." This album features the amazing compositions of Drew Waters and includes sheet music for two of the tunes.

You are invited to download the entire recording, FREE of charge, or you can exercise your option to pay ANY price you like.

Happy Holidays!!">Steve by Atmos Trio

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The Musician's Tales: Stories from the Trenches #cheesegigthrowdown

I was exchanging some gig stories this morning and the trend continues.

This widget is following the Twitter hashtag #cheesegigthrowdown

<script src=""></script> <script> new TWTR.Widget({ version: 2, type: 'search', search: '#cheesegigthrowdown', interval: 6000, title: 'Musician stories from the trenches', subject: ' #cheesegigthrowdown', width: 'auto', height: 300, theme: { shell: { background: '#8c8e8f', color: '#ffffff' }, tweets: { background: '#ffffff', color: '#444444', links: '#0811c2' } }, features: { scrollbar: false, loop: true, live: true, hashtags: true, timestamp: true, avatars: true, behavior: 'default' } }).render().start(); </script>

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Rob testifying the "Spam Blues" on Ustream

Every Thursday, I play a solo jazz guitar show right out of my home studio. From my perspective, it's The Hippest Thing Ever!

On this particular Thursday, I was being pummeled by spammers and well--it gave me the blues.

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This week's "Forgotten" Atmos Trio tune: Bill Frisell's "Is It Sweet?"

From a July 2004 session, "Is It Sweet" is a classic Bill Frisell piece that features a really cool "drunken" feel in the groove and some folky- country-blues tones.

Again, I'm offering a tune we played out of the love of playing. There are no edits or overdubs here.

Is It Sweet? I think so...

  <span><a href=" Is It Sweet  by  AtmosTrio ">Is It Sweet</a>  by  <a href=" Latest tracks by AtmosTrio ">AtmosTrio</a></span>   <a href=" Is It Sweet  by  AtmosTrio ">Is It Sweet</a>  by  <a href=" Latest tracks by AtmosTrio ">AtmosTrio</a>

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Another "Forgotten" Atmos Trio track: Stephanie's Soliloquey (2004)

This offering is the sixth in an on-going series of "Forgotten Music"
that has been rediscovered after years of languishing on a hard drive.
this music was never intended for release, but after sitting all this
time, has been considered worthy, at least, to share. it may be that a
"Forgotten Album" will emerge.
Recorded in July 2004. Atmos Trio  wasn't
even recording an album--just sight-reading some charts. This is
another beautiful Peter Sprague  tune we
used to play during our Monday morning jam sessions.
This song is something of a rarity in that it does not feature solos
but instead, features the composition itself as the main character in
this particular music tale.
Features Rob Michael  on
guitars, Joe Shotwell on bass and Jeff Obee on bass.

Stephanie's Soliloquey  by  AtmosTrio

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Atmos Trio Monday morning sessions: Miles Davis' Solar

The Atmos Trio first started out as an excuse to play in a very conversational way. We were (and still are) seeking a musical discussion that required no words. We were out to explore group improvisation but hopefully present it in such a way that it almost sounded composed.

For a time, our method of operation was to converge on my studio each Monday morning, throw up some mics, hit RECORD and just play. Here is a result of one of those session from July 2004.

Never intended for release, this recording of Solar really was a happy accident which was captured to disk. We played it and moved-on. Only during a later review of the session did we realize the level of musical interactivity that had apparently occurred earlier that day.

Here is your invitation to eavesdrop on our conversation.

Solar  by  AtmosTrio

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Solo Jazz Guitar take on "Don't Know Why"

Continuing my efforts to liberate hard drive space is unearthing several forgotten little musical treasures. 

My offering for today is this solo guitar version the tune Nora Jones made such a huge hit several years ago. Like everything I've shared via Soundcloud, this track was never intended for release, just something I rediscovered and thought may provide someone with temporary respite from the pressures of a Monday.

Please enjoy with my compliments and pass it along if you think someone else might dig it.

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Clearing-out hard drive space and discovered these Forgotten Atmos Trio Tunes.

These are live recordings that were never intended for release but that, upon reviewing years after the fact, seemed worthy of sharing with interested listeners.

These are from a time when the concept of The Atmos Trio was still crystalizing.

<span>Hypothical Premise  by  AtmosTrio</span>

<span>Kylie  by  AtmosTrio</span>

<span>Lonely Woman  by  AtmosTrio</span>

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Atmos Trio plays Horace Silver's Lonely Woman

Searching the audio archives here in the studio, found this Horace Silver masterpiece that the Atmos Trio played Live in 2005.

Hope you dig it.

Lonely Woman by AtmosTrio

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Reflecting on the Rob Michael/ Damian Erskine Ustream Clinic

This past week, I had the great fortune to be able to share my Ustream Show with bass player extraordinaire Damian Erskine

Damian and I have become familiar with one another via Social Networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. When he sent me a tweet indicating that he had a tour wrapping-up in my area and was interested in doing some playing, I wasted no time in inviting him to be a guest on Ustream for a Concert/ Clinic.

We hung-out, played some tunes and took questions from the audience and everyone had a great time. There was kind of buzz before and after the event as well.

It's always super fun to take "Virtual" relationships and have them become face-to-face ones.

Here's am embed of us playing through one of my tunes Mr. Tippy Toe.

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Want to see what Atmos Trio charts look like when you download the Hi-Rez Album? Listen & read along

The Atmos Trio has made our music available on our new BandCamp site. 

This is a wonderful site in many ways. One of my favorite features is the ability to include bonus material along with the music files. We've decided to make this music available to anyone who wants it for FREE in the form of an mp3. If you would like a Higher Resolution file (advisable as the music is beautifully mixed and mastered), you can purchase the songs individually, or, if you buy the entire album, you will receive BONUS MATERIAL in the form of Sheet Music for seven of the twelve tunes and a poster similar to the cover art. (great for a desktop background). 

Here is the Rob Michael composition "Waiting" as a sample of what the charts look like. Listen and read along if you like.">Waiting by Atmos Trio

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Want to see what Atmos Trio charts look like when you download the Hi-Rez Album? Listen & read along

Download now or preview on posterous
Waiting.pdf (30 KB)

The Atmos Trio has made our music available on our new BandCamp site. 

This is a wonderful site in many ways. One of my favorite features is the ability to include bonus material along with the music files. We've decided to make this music available to anyone who wants it for FREE in the form of an mp3. If you would like a Higher Resolution file (advisable as the music is beautifully mixed and mastered), you can purchase the songs individually, or, if you buy the entire album, you will receive BONUS MATERIAL in the form of Sheet Music for seven of the twelve tunes and a poster similar to the cover art. (great for a desktop background). 

Here is the Rob Michael composition "Waiting" as a sample of what the charts look like. Listen and read along if you like.">Waiting by Atmos Trio

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Dear Blogger, I think we need a break. It's not you, it's me...

I have moved the Atmos Trio blog to Please update your RSS feed to the new location in your Reader.

See you over there...


Interaction is Where the Action is

In the spirit of the DIY credo, artists have been busily starting accounts on various Social Media web services in effort to promote their wares. MySpace, FaceBook...the usual suspects; Fueled by the idea that now, at long last, the 'playing field as been leveled,' and everyone can now find all 'my stuff.'

The flip-side--no one is interested in being marketed too. It's spammy and impersonal--so, please,  just knock it off. 

These tools, if used effectively, can be used to engage. Not enrage!!

Case-in-point: I have been fascinated by solo bassist Steve Lawson's amazingly effective use of Twitter to connect with his audience. He even managed to book an entire US Tour via Twitter.

He did this by conversing with people--not talking 'at' them.

Inspired by Steve's success, I set about changing my own approach. Rather than thinking: Promote, promote, promote... I switched to, inform, invite and engage people. This little paradigm shift has had some interesting results.

One is that I've connected with some incredibly talented people. Several of whom I would likely never met otherwise. Many are within a 45 mile radius of where I live--but never met. I had the good fortune to meet Ariane Cap, an outrageously talented and versatile bass player. Shortly after meeting via Twitter, we played a gig and will likely continue to do so. For non-musos, you should know, great bass players are worth their weight in gold.

The amazing part is that Ariane and I have lived within 3 miles of one another for four years, and didn't meet until we connected on Twitter.

Others include bassists Jeff Schmidt and Steve Uccello with whom a House Concert is being organized. 

The point isn't so much about which tools you use, it's actually holding a conversation with people. To be 'real' and genuine is. Why should anyone care otherwise?

I have been cultivating valuable relationships on FriendFeed as well. Whether learning about other tech driven services like or finding interested/ interesting people who may be interested in hosting a House Concert, buying CDs or viewing your videos. It's all there.

Just remember, it's about the connection, the conversation. Be Social.

House Concerts

While Atmos Trio still play our fair share of gigs in clubs and other venues, our favorite place to play music these days is in peoples homes. In their living rooms for an audience consisting of friends and neighbors. It's a great way to hear great music in a very intimate comfortable setting, and we LOVE hanging out and talking and learning about our audience. 

That invisible barrier between the listener and the performer on stage--GONE. Waiting in line--GONE. Dealing with attitude from an underpaid cocktail get the idea.

House Concerts present you and your friends and neighbors an way to enjoy music in a way many find more enjoyable than the experience of the normal venue. 

Russ & Julie host concerts in their home in the Los Angeles California area and have been kind enough to provide a FAQ for those considering hosting a concert. These are the guidelines that they use for their events, not a set of rules.

Maybe hosting a House Concert is for you? If you would like the Atmos Trio to perform in your home, give us a shout and we'll be glad to discuss the details

House Concert FAQ

WHAT is a House Concert? A house concert is a chance to experience music in a warm and intimate environment. It's when someone opens up their home and invites you into their living room to share in a performance by one of their favorite musicians. It's a chance to meet the performers and get them to sign their CD. A house concert is also a great social evening of friends and neighbors.

WHY would anyone do this? We open up our home to our friends and neighbors because we want to share great music with them. In the area where we live -- like most of the world today -- there are too few venues where people can go to experience great music in a close and friendly environment. Great music makes us happy and we want to share that with others around us. These events allow us to give exposure to some incredible musicians whose talents we truly believe in and wish to help promote.

What do you get out of this? We find it strange that some people can't believe we get no economic benefit for doing this. We do it simply for the love of the music. Really. We enjoy sharing great music with those around us. 100% of the suggested donation goes directly to the performers. For us, this is a hobby and we don't mind spending a little to keep our hobby going. It's a hobby that has brought us great joy over the years. Since we started hosting house concerts in early 1997, we've met some wonderful music fans and some extremely talented musicians... many of whom will be lifelong friends.

Doesn't it cost you time and money? Yes, it costs us money to host these concerts. We spend money for coffee, soft drinks, desserts, paper plates, paper cups, napkins, flyers, postage and more. We also spend a great deal of time for the planning and set up of each show. (NOTE: Many hosts borrow chairs from their neighbors, who are invited attendees anyway, and also have a 'potluck' dinner before the show. House Concerts can take the Economy out of the Social equation.)

What do your neighbors think? We encourage our neighbors to attend and many (if not most) of our neighbors have attended our house concerts over the years. Some of our neighbors are among our most regular guests at these evenings.

As a courtesy to our neighbors, our shows are nearly always on Saturday nights and end at a reasonable hour. We also limit ourselves to no more than one show per month. Our house concerts generally begin at 8:00 P.M. and end by 10:30 P.M... although sometimes they do go a bit later.

What kind of environment is the evening? Casual. We go for the warm and cozy feel. Dress is "California Casual". Our home is a smoke free environment. We ask everyone to honor this and please keep all cigars, pipes and cigarettes outside. We also insist NO DRUGS OF ANY KIND... chocolate not withstanding!! We have a nice coffee and dessert buffet that includes all types of cookies, cakes, and pies along with coffee and soda. We do NOT provide any alcohol. However, if people wish to bring wine or beer, we are fine with that so long as people use their own discretion; anyone who appears intoxicated in our home will be asked to leave and not to return. We are happy to say that in our first decade of hosting house concerts, this has never been a problem.

Travel studio

When traveling, the inherant solitute can, at times, be a blessing.

Here is my hotel room studio in Hollywood. When of was time to leave, one trip to the car was all it took.

A (positive) sign of the times.

NAMM 2009 Day 2

The NAMM Show's massive showroom floor takes every bit of an entire day to walk. The event is a tradeshow for the music industry featuring every imaginable music product. Aside from the overload of music stuff, NAMM provides better-than-average people watching opportunities akin to a main-stream Burningman

I never did find out who this is, but there was a long line of people waiting for his autograph.

Ultimately, the event is about people. Seeing friends, meeting famous people, and about connecting with new people.

Here's an example: Steve Lawson, and Lobelia, have been touring the US doing house concerts featuring looping. Steve's blog chronicles their adventures. With Steve and I mostly being aware of one another via Twitter, it was fun to finally meet face-to-face.

NAMM 2009 Day 1

I've attended the musical candy store known as Summer NAMM many times. I used to go every year but have paired it down to every other year: that's a good rhythm for me.

Made into Anaheim around mid afternoon where we were met with beautiful, unseasonably ward summer-like weather. I decided to just make this first day a destination-free stroll and will be more organized over the course of the next three days of attendance.

While I am not one that usually gets "star-struck" when I see famous people--I did run into one of my all-time heroes and had to stop and say 'Hi.' 

George Benson has been an idol of mine since I was 7 years old and I had the good fortune to meet him today. Needless to say--I was totally thrilled and couldn't wipe the smile of my face for the rest of the afternoon.

George is the "Real Deal."  

Tomorrow: Day 2.

Consistent Persistence

What does it take to get good? How do you manage to succeed in music (or anything else really...).

My students ask me that all the time and my answer is always the same: "It's simple, if you work your butt off for a really long time, you're bound to pick-up at least a thing or two." I know that they're always hoping for some "Magic Shortcut" or trick that will allow them to skip these steps.

But more than steps toward a goal, I think of success as a lifestyle. If you don't LOVE the process of working and practicing hard, you're just not going to arrive.

I learned these things from being around people who had done it before me. I watched not only "What" and "How" they went about doing things, I made it my business to learn about the work ethic. That, it turns out, may have been the most valuable thing.

Just as I did 20-30 years ago, I LOVE to practice, transcribe the solos of the Masters, play ALL KINDS of gigs with ALL KINDS of musicians. I LOVE to teach. I LOVE to do what is needed to get my gear sounding the best I can. I LOVE composing and arranging. I even LOVE making set lists, writing charts, booking gigs and doing promo work.

Is there something that you find yourself wishing you had a shortcut for? Are you truly passionate about something? Not the idea of accomplishing something, but the process of working. I'm always inspired by hearing about someone's quest. I hope to learn about yours.