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David Lander  |  Oct 10, 2012  |  0 comments
In December 1941, just after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S.'s declaration of war, the state of Indiana unwittingly endorsed a very different conflict by approving the incorporation of a talent agency headed by Denver Ferguson, an Indianapolis-based African-American entrepreneur. The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock 'n' Roll documents the second of these campaigns, launched by the musical forces Ferguson dispatched to venues throughout the American South where blacks could entertain black audiences. In successive waves, talented musicians hit those stages running. Their performances were often incendiary, and a large chunk of this book chronicles the artistic warfare they waged between the advent of rhythm and blues and the emergence of what became known as rock'n'roll.
David Lander  |  Apr 20, 2012  |  0 comments
Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice
By Tad Hershorn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 470pp. Hardcover, $34.95.

One night in 1942, Billie Holiday was singing at a Los Angeles nightclub. Between sets, she crossed the street to have a drink with Norman Granz. She was in tears because some black friends who had come to hear her had been turned away.

John Marks  |  Feb 10, 2012  |  1 comments
KEF: 50 Years of Innovation in Sound
By Ken Kessler and Dr. Andrew Watson. GP Acoustics International Limited, 2011. $89.99. Hardcover, 12" by 12" by 0.9", 216 pp. ISBN 978-988-15427-4-8. Available from selected KEF dealers and Amazon.com.

Ken Kessler's latest "coffee-tabler" (my favorite publishing-industry insider neologism) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of KEF Electronics by documenting the history of the venerable loudspeaker manufacturer. While the book doesn't quite start with a bang, it does start with an evocative vignette. The year was 1979, the place the ballroom of Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty the Queen, about to present KEF's founder, Raymond Cooke, with the medal representing his having been made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), inquired, perhaps formulaically, "This is for loudspeakers?"

John Atkinson  |  Dec 19, 2012  |  First Published: Oct 21, 2011  |  144 comments
In the summer of 2011, Stereophile's long-time editor in chief, John Atkinson, was invited by the Technical Council of the Audio Engineering Society to give the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture at the 131st Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York, October 21, 2011.
David Lander  |  Jun 06, 2011  |  1 comments
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, by Terry Teachout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009): 475pp. Hardcover, $30; paperback, $16.95.

If you plan to read just one book about Louis Armstrong, whose virtuosic cornet solos pushed jazz past rudimentary ensemble playing and launched his phenomenal career as an instrumentalist and singer, make it Pops. Teachout built it on brickwork laid by authors who preceded him, so you'll benefit from their research, as well as from narrative on 650 previously private reels of tape that Armstrong recorded and archived. Moreover, Teachout is a musician and music critic who offers opinions on his subject's discography.

Few people seem to realize that Armstrong (1901–1971) called himself LOU-iss. "All White Folks call me Louie," he once noted, and in some instances that may have been patronizing. In others, it was surely an instinctive response to the man's infectious warmth and informality.

Jonathan Scull  |  Feb 11, 2011  |  First Published: Jan 11, 2011  |  7 comments
Illustration: Jeff Wong

John Atkinson and I were On the Road, whistling down I-95 in a big, Kona Blue Metallic 2011 Ford Edge Ltd with voice-command everything. To paraphrase Raoul Duke at the very beginning of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, we were somewhere around Princeton, New Jersey—not quite the edge of the desert—when the drugs began to take hold. Just as in the original text, "there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car . . ." I decided that there was no point in mentioning the bats to JA. He'd bought the Criterion Collection DVD of Terry Gilliam's film version of Fear and Loathing at Princeton Record Exchange. He knew about the bats.

John Marks  |  Oct 01, 2010  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2010  |  0 comments
Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport '56
by John Fass Morton, foreword by Jonathan Yardley. Rutgers University Press, 2008. Hardcover, 336 pages, 107 B&W photos. $34.95.
Richard Lehnert  |  Apr 02, 2010  |  5 comments
I know of only one composer who measures up to Beethoven, and that is Bruckner.—Richard Wagner, 1882
Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2010  |  First Published: Mar 08, 2010  |  1 comments
As Chester Rice, co-inventor of the moving-coil loudspeaker, once ruefully observed: "The ancients have stolen our inventions." So often, what is painted as new and innovative turns out to be something someone thought of long before. We have a habit of forgetting, and that applies not only to inventions, but to knowledge of other kinds as well.
 |  Mar 24, 2009  |  First Published: Apr 24, 2009  |  0 comments
Phono Accessories & Record Cleaners
Keith Howard  |  Apr 02, 2009  |  First Published: Mar 02, 2009  |  0 comments
Until the Recording Industry Association of America hit the headlines in recent years with its antipiracy campaign, the initials RIAA meant one thing to seasoned audiophiles: the vinyl-disc equalization characteristic introduced in the 1950s to standardize what had previously been an anarchy of different EQs. Three decades later, as CD gained ascendance, a large proportion of audiophiles still knew what RIAA equalization was, and a good number of them had some idea or better of what the RIAA EQ curve looked like, and why it was applied.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 01, 2009  |  0 comments
"How sour sweet music is / When time is broke and no proportion kept!"
—William Shakespeare, King Richard II, V, v, 42
John Atkinson  |  Oct 24, 2008  |  0 comments
"Physical discs seem so 20th century!" That's how I ended my eNewsletter review of the Logitech (then Slim Devices) Squeezebox WiFi music server in April 2006, and it seems that increasing numbers of Stereophile readers agree with me. In our website poll of January 5, 2008, we asked, "Are you ready for an audiophile music server?" The response to that question was the highest we have experienced: 32% of respondents already listen to music via their computer networks, many using home-brewed solutions, and 44% intend to. We've published a lot of material on this subject in the last five years, and it seemed a good idea to sum it up in this article.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 29, 2008  |  0 comments
Headphones get pretty short shrift in much of the hi-fi press, which is puzzling—the headphone market is burgeoning. I don't know what the equivalent US figures are, but in recent years the UK headphone market has increased by an annual 15–20% in both units sold and overall revenue. It's easy to dismiss this as a natural byproduct of the Apple iPod phenomenon, but 20% of the market value is now accounted for by headphones costing over $120; a significant subset of consumers would seem to be looking for quality. When you also consider that many people's first exposure to higher-quality audio comes via headphones, there is ample reason for treating them more seriously.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 29, 2008  |  First Published: Apr 30, 2008  |  0 comments
Swiss Precision: The Story of the Thorens TD 124 and Other Classic Turntables
Swiss Precision: The Story of the Thorens TD 124 and Other Classic Turntables
by Joachim Bung. Published by Joachim and Angelika Bung, Schmitten, Germany (info@td-124.de), 2008. Hardcover, 288 pages, four-color, ISBN 978-3-00-021162-1. Price: €59 plus overseas mailing.

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