Both Chesky Records and HDtracks have a pair of co-founding partners, but the music-minded press has perpetually focused on one of them, pianist and composer David Chesky, while ignoring his younger brother, Norman. Mainstream reporters and photographers did converge on Norman Chesky once, when they spotted him rolling a bulky, rough-hewn, wooden artifact from the 2009 auction at which Bernard Madoff's personal effects were sold for the benefit of bilked investors. Leading newspapers ran photos of Norman with the tree-trunk table he'd bought after happening on the sale, and the New York Times identified him as "a music executive from Manhattan." As the exchange that follows shows, that description was a glaring oversimplification.
Madrigal's chief executive officer is known for working well into the night, but that's been a goal of his since boyhood. For many years he dreamed of becoming a professional guitarist, and even dropped out of Yale to satisfy a ravenous musical appetite. "Enough of trying to be a Renaissance man," Phil Muzio recalls thinking at the time. His aim was to be out there on the bandstand making music.
Richard Sequerra was born in 1929 and raised in various parts of the US by his mother, who worked for the Department of State. By the time he was 20, he had launched a freelance career that has since spanned a wide range of technologies. During a stint at Marantz in the 1960s, he worked with Sidney Smith on that firm's famed Marantz 10B tuner, which was sold from 1964 through 1970. Subsequent products have included the Sequerra 1 tuner and the Metronome 7 loudspeaker, originally produced by Sequerra's firm Pyramid and now hand-assembled by its creator, who offers the most recent version via his website, for less than half what it cost through retail channels when Sam Tellig praised it in the July 2007 Stereophile. Sequerra's newest transducersa self-amplified nearfield speaker and matching subwoofer designed for Internet music listeningremain in prototype form; he hopes to sell or license the designs rather than manufacture and market them himself.
Sanford "Sandy" Berlin died on March 11 at his home in Santa Monica, California. He was 80 and had suffered from cancer. Born in 1927, he would have been 81 on April 10. During a long and highly successful career in audio management, Berlin held top positions at companies ranging from Harman/Kardon and JBL to Madrigal and Revel. He entered the industry in the 1960s, after brokering Harman/Kardon, then owned by General Instruments, back to its founder, Sidney Harman, who subsequently hired him and put him in charge of H/K. When Harman's firm, then called Jervis Corporation, acquired JBL in 1969, Berlin moved to Los Angeles to reshape it. He later set up German and French distribution units for Harman-group products and, after negotiating Harman's purchase of Tannoy, moved to England to serve as Tannoy's chairman. When Harman set out to create a new speaker brand, Bolivar, Berlin took the reins of that Tennessee-based operation (which ultimately proved unsuccessful).
This tale might have been scripted by Barry Levinson, the Baltimore-bred filmmaker who has set four pictures in his hometown, where much of the Sandy Gross story has also taken place. The young Sanford Gross moved there to attend Johns Hopkins University, and subsequently, in one of the city's Civil Warera houses, got Polk Audio rolling with fellow alumni Matthew Polk and George Klopfer. The company flourished, but Gross, who had minored in film at Hopkins, had an itch for Hollywood. He moved to Los Angeles, only to find the movie business tinged with illusionmuch as Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett had portrayed it in Sunset Boulevard, their merciless 1950 film noir. So Gross plotted a new scenario, returned to Baltimore, and re-entered an industry committed to low distortion.
Tom Jung's career has been dotted with numbers. In 1969, he and a partner founded Sound 80, a Minneapolis recording studio named by an advertising wizard who had previously conjured up the appellation Cure 81 for a Hormel ham, supposedly while sipping Vat 69 scotch. Some years later, engineers from another Midwestern company with a numeral in its name, 3M, stopped by with an experimental tape recorder that also employed digits. Those zeros and ones proved critical to the recordings Jung went on to engineer and produce at his next company, Digital Music Products, better known as DMP.