LATEST ADDITIONS

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Robert Baird Posted: Aug 02, 2016 1 comments
In writing for magazines, there's a basic rule: Don't become the subject. And in writing about the arts, it's best to remember that you aren't in the music business or the film business: you're in the publishing business. Despite this, there are arts writers who fancy they're a part of the world they write about. All famous musicians are their "friends." The music business values their opinions. They're caught up in the delusion that the Rolling Stones sang about so deliciously in "Star Star," the closing number on Goats Head Soup.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Aug 02, 2016 Published: Jul 01, 1968 0 comments
It takes a lot of courage for a new company to launch an amplifier like this at time when most manufacturers are courting the mass market with budget-priced receivers, and Marantz is pretty firmly established as the Rolls Royce of audio electronics.

The SAE Mark II has, nominally, the same performance specs as the Dynaco Stereo 120, yet it costs twice as much as a factory-wired Stereo 120, and about 2½ times as much as a Stereo 120 kit. Is the SAE really worth the difference? And how does it compare with some other $400 amplifiers? Well, it all depends.

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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Aug 01, 2016 6 comments
Guitarist Nels Cline will make his Blue Note debut on August 5—this coming Friday as a download, with CD following on August 19 and LP on September 2—with his album Lovers. It's a beautiful, wide-ranging, 18-track, 23-person-ensemble look inside Nels's soul, and a project that's been in the making for 25 years. It contains a mix of Cline's originals as well as songs by Sonic Youth, Arto Lindsay, Jimmy Giuffre, and Great American Songbook Standards.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jul 30, 2016 6 comments
Virtually every new recording of Mozart's great opera, Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), is eagerly anticipated. The opera is, after all, an indisputable masterpiece, and frequently described as the most perfect opera ever written. Not only does it contain an irresistible flood of melody, with one hummable, ear worm-like tune after the other, but its music also unfailingly serves da Ponte's libretto. This recording, of concert performances that took place in the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in July 2015, is especially important for two reasons. The first is its star-studded cast of younger and veteran singers, among whom are four extremely well knowns: bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni (Figaro), baritone Thomas Hampson (Count Almaviva), mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter (Marcellina), and tenor Rolando Villazón (Basilio).
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Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 28, 2016 1 comments
Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Mary Oliver famously remarked, "attention without feeling . . . is only a report."

After nearly two years of prattling for Stereophile, I am finally grasping the full veracity of that statement. When I read reviews that jabber on about highs, mediums, and lows, and that rely exclusively on nonmusical vocabulary, I come away with feelings of acute cognitive dissonance. Not to mention: if a review has a lot of initialisms—ADD, S/PDIF, DXD, HDMI, etc.—my ADHD kicks in and I stop reading by the third paragraph.

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 28, 2016 2 comments
When I first met Luke Manley, proprietor of VTL, he and his father, David, with whom he ran the company at the time, had recently emigrated from the UK to California. I asked Luke how he liked the West Coast. "Great," he replied. "Much better parts availability." This was about 30 years ago, when I was just immersing myself in high-end audio at a high-toned level. Our exchange gave me a taste of the obsessions ahead, though Luke Manley's single-mindedness through the decades since has been more dogged than many—and, at the same time, less dogmatic.
Art Dudley Posted: Jul 26, 2016 128 comments
I should have seen this coming: Less than a year after the last time I railed against the darkness of cable reviewing—the indignity of crawling around behind my equipment rack, the tedium of comparing one wire to another, the frustration of trying to wring from the experience some fresh and hopefully entertaining observations, the horror of dealing with manufacturers whose hunger for good publicity borders on the vampiric—I have once again invited into my home a cable manufacturer and his wares.
Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 26, 2016 7 comments
Which record player has achieved international acclaim as a musical instrument in its own right?

Which turntable is revered for its near-indestructible build quality?

Which disc spinner has played more records—and made more people drink, drug, dance, and make out—than any other?

Which turntable has sold over three million units?

Hint: It is not made in the US, the UK, China, or Switzerland.

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Jana Dagdagan Posted: Jul 25, 2016 11 comments
A fleeting memory:

Hazy.
Early morning.
I'm sitting outside Penn Station.
Next to me sits Jim Hall.
A boy with an upright bass walks past us.
"Is that a walking bass?" Jim chuckles.
The boy, in passing, raises an eyebrow, glances over.
Keeps walking, doesn't think twice.
Oh, the irony.

If you are a lover or a maker of jazz (or any music at all) you must be a fan of the legendary guitarist Jim Hall. At least, that is the hope I have seared into my mind, as to not completely lose all faith in humanity.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jul 24, 2016 4 comments
One of the great joys of reviewing is discovering music with ideas so fresh, and harmonic progressions so inventive, that the simple act of listening without distraction inspires unique emotional and intellectual journeys. Such is the case every time I listen to the recent ECM New Series release, Danish String Quartet: Thomas Adès Per Nørgård Hans Abrahamsen.

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