The world is catching up with Darcy James Argue. Two years ago, he was known mainly for having the strangest name in jazz since Ornette Coleman. Now he's a double winner in Downbeat's 2013 Critics' Pollthe top pick for Best Arranger, and tied with Maria Schneider for Best Big Band Leader.
Whether the subject is hi-fi equipment, films, restaurants, power tools, or condoms (see the April 2005 "Listening"), reviewing should be off-limits to the perennially unhappy. I'm reminded of that dictum by the flap over the recent film Identity Thief, which was savaged by reviewer Rex Reednot because the film is weak, but because its star, Melissa McCarthy, is heavy. Reed, whose career as the Paul Lynde of film reviewing was punctuated by a starring role in a flop called Myra Breckenridge, mentioned in his review McCarthy's size not once but numerous times, thus exposing himself as a bullying hack who wields his harshest criticisms not when they are merited but as unconscious expressions of his own personal anguish. Hate speech of any sort is the crayon of the unhappy; that is doubly true of people who write for a living.
Roy Bird's UK-based Chester Group, which currently produces the New York Audio Show, has announced the acquisition of Montreal's Salon Son et Image. While the show will continue to take place in Montreal's Hilton Bonaventure in late MarchMarch 2830 in 2014Sarah Tremblay, former co-producer of Montreal show with her husband, Michel Plante, will join the Chester Group team and assume overall management of both North American shows.
In addition, to avoid 2013's industry-taxing situation of the Montreal, Chicago, and New York shows taking place with only two or three weeks between each, the Chester Group has decided to move the New York show from April to September.
In the last 15 minutes, about 25 people have sent me a link to this article, so now I'll share it with you. For better or worse, whether we're discussing velour suits or Compact Discs, any discussion regarding death is most likely premature. I call for a death to the discussion of death.
Yet, here we go again, this time discussing "the death of the home stereo system." CNN reporter Todd Leopold paints it as the classic struggle between quality and convenience, and seems to think that convenience has finally delivered the knock-out punch.
Released back in May, Jenny Hval's Innocence is Kinky, endures as one of my favorite records of 2013. I've played it countless times, and, in a few days, when Hval takes the stage at NYC's Mercury Lounge, I'll finally have the chance to see and hear the songs performed live.
The name sounds perfect. It fits neatly next to those of Messrs. Leak, Sugden, Walker, Grant, Lumley, and others of Britain's most rightly revered amplifier builders. In fact, when their distributor called and asked if I'd like to review the latest amplifier from Croft Acoustics, I accepted without actually knowing who they are, simply because they sounded like someone I was supposed to knowsomeone who's been around for 60 years or so, shellacking bell wire in an old mill with a thatched roof.
In March, to celebrate Marantz's 60th anniversary, the company launched the subject of this review, the Reference NA-11S1 network player ($3499), which Ken Ishiwata described to me as "a new start, a new era" for Marantz. Michael Fremer attended the European press conference announcing the NA-11S1, and I subsequently talked to Ishiwata via Skype.
At the time of my August 2011 "As We See It," I was using a Wilson-McIntosh system. That system is still with me and still gets quite a bit of use. Its location, however, has changed. In its place is a system that I can't see switching out or needing to replace: Wilson Alexandria XLF speakers with VTL Siegfried Series II Reference monoblock power amps, TL-7.5 Series III Reference preamplifier, and TP-6.5 Signature phono stage. It might take a small army of people to move it, but beyond that, I think I'm good to go.
The most indelicate, if not gory, term in all of music is the ever-popular "bleeding chunks." The bane of classical audiences cursed with lazy pops conductors, bleeding chunks are movements of worksor even parts of movementsstrung together in that abomination known as a medley. The effect can be, I guess, soothing to those who, for example, know only a little about Mozart. But for anyone well versed in their Wolfy, these programs are jarring, and can produce involuntarily grinding of those cavity-prone back molars.
SaturdaySunday, October 56, 10am6pm: The annual High End Prague hi-fi show will be held at the Corinthia Towers Hotel. The admission price per day is about $5 US and includes automatic entry into a "hi-fi lottery," with a chance to win Monitor Audio loudspeakers, Focal and Grado headphones, IsoTek electronics, and more. A percentage of the money earned from High End Prague goes to the Czech UNICEF. For a complete exhibitor list and more info, visit www.high-end-praha.cz.