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Friday, March 27, 2015

John Renbourn passed away!



My heart is still bleeding, folks... John Renbourn has been my inspiration since early '70s, when I bought Pentangle's Reflection on Transatlantic with its folded cover so full of small and smaller and larger color pixies of John, Bert, Danny, Terry and Jacqui... a younger me was in awe, as while listening to, say, So Clear or Omie Wise, my fantasy was traveling to an exotic England, a dream I lived only a few years later... music, discs, concerts, guitars... an imaginary place I lived, day by day, from this cover artwork.



In 1976 I went to my first John's concert, in Bologna, Italy... he was playing his Guild D55 (coming in a blue Calton's guitar case), with Duck Baker and Stefan Grossman... I travelled by train and the concert was a blast for yours truly.

Not by chance I bought, owned and played a D-55, as well... down to Calton's case and peeling off the nitrocellulose lacquer and refinishing in French polish, exactly as John himself did on his Guild's.

... but back on the gig: I arrived early, so was able to have a chat with John and Stefan and Duck, as well...

I was in heaven.

The trains were stopping at night, so I was back home at 6 A.M.

I remember I stopped at a bakery and I was gifted of a fragrant, fresh baked bread.

It had the smell and flavor of freedom.

... a freedom I won on field of one of the first true concerts of many to come I attended worldwide, which still makes music my bread and butter and honey.

Never tired... hopelessly in love for the life.

I still have in my wallet a Ralph Bown card John gave to me after another concert, one of the fourteen  times I saw him alive... he wrote to me his Kingswear, Devon's address and blinked his eye.

"Come to visit... one day"

... and so I did, folks...

Next year I travelled to England with my wife and my flamenco guitar... it was same year - when in London - I called the late, missed Davey Graham and I arranged to spend three hours at his Camden Town apartment, taking a lesson but, much more, breathing the legend... and feeling so fine.

... music, again, you know...

I enjoyed Ivor Mairants and his Fylde's guitars and Denmark Street... I was in Toyland...

... and Collet's and Cecil Sharp House and Half Moon in Putney... and... and...

In a few days, heading to Devon, after Glastonbury and Stonehenge and Salisbury, I was ready - after a sort of "preparatory journey" - to reach John's house... near the sea, a tiny village... flowers and Vauxhall parked in the garden... an ancient, nice house, a cocker spaniel dog... I had some gift for John - fine wine from Italy - and the lady who hosted me and my wife was so kind... a tea, chatting... BUT John was touring Italy with Bert Jansch!!!

We spent hours at his house, chatting and visiting John's music room... the guitars hanging on the walls, piles and piles of hand-written sheet music...

I wasn't angry or deluged... the lady was so kind to let me to explore this goldmine.

... before leaving, we laughed as I taught to her vegetables names in Venetian dialect... so "eggplants" became "meansane"... "Courgettes" were "sucoi" and so on... my wife was blaming to me for my... rudeness, but John's lady was amused and we all enjoyed laughing.

... more and more times I saw John in concert, played his Bown guitar once... Stefan Grossman, in backstage, got angry with me, as he wasn't aware John himself allowed me to fingerpick his fine guitar... so we almost fucked off each other... too bad John timely arrived to explain.

I began playing John's music in mid seventies... had his "Pieces for Guitar" booklet, then all his following booklets and learned learned learned to play twenty or so of his great tunes... Luckett Sunday, Bicycle Tune, Anna Pavanna, Lady Nothynge, Bourree I & II...

The joy I still feel after decades playing John's music, the beauty of his fingerings and harmonic solutions gives to me shivers of pleasure.



John was The Hermit... his Hawick home was unique like him... unique, timeless, difficult and easy...



I have more thoughts, but everything is blurred... maybe it's far too early to express them in written form... maybe later, one day.

Only John's music has the healing power to soothe everyone who loved him and his art...

Words sounds redundant... lesser... poorer than also his tiniest trillo, vibrato or bending...

This early morning, after reading the sad news about John passing away, I was in tears, alone, in the silent house...

What I did was handling my Sovereign acoustic guitar... It was in standard tuning, so I down-tuned G to F sharp and played beloved "Bicycle Tune"... a complex tune, loop-like, yet so easy to the ears.

... and my eyes were wet, again...

John was a scholar, a teacher, a musician, an humble genius, a smiling bear, a collector, a mentor.



... and my friend, forever.

That's my humble words for him, honoring his art and uniqueness... others more clever than me wrote it better, yet I'll sincerely miss him the rest of my life, also if he'll live forever in his superb music.





Thursday, March 26, 2015

Site of the Decade - Alan Lomax' Archives giveaway!




GREAT news for musicologists and music lovers...




To browse, endlessly.

WOW!







Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu - Sardinian wisdom



Cool video from Sardinia and wise, WISE words from maestro Ralph Towner.



Thanking my pal Daniele...


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cunningham CX-310



Just got this beauty from the USA... now my tubes warehouse happily counts three pairs of this INCREDIBLE, terrific triode...


Love this carton box which survived flawlessly for decades...





.







A time-capsule find for my mighty Thomas Mayer Line Stage pre-amp...

A soooo nice piece of gear guilty of the best sound I ever experienced in my system...

Thanking the great Ebayer for such a nicely preserved tube from 1929 and... feel jealous for his nice EICO tube-tester, as well!





Monday, March 23, 2015

Blog of the Month - Jason plays Music




Jason Mass sure knows and he's not fearful or afraid to share his tastes and knowledge.





Browse and enjoy, folks.


Cool!



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Italian Food by Elizabeth David - Penguin Book (1954)




This book, written by renowned writer Elizabeth David in early '50s, is an ode to Italy and - mostly - Sicily's food... this seminal book, illustrated by Renato Guttuso who painted the Vucciria market in Palermo (and made the book cover artwork), gave to a post-WWII Europe and namely England, a hinting of colors and happiness at table.

... and this book is as timeless as it can be today.











Worth reading and experimenting... in the kitchen, of course.

Yummi and... buon appetito!





John Renbourn's teachings - Rotosound B12 "Piano Strings" Super Bronze for acoustic guitar




Here is maestro Frank Ford of Gryphon guitars shop, the fretted instruments heaven, who gives a wise suggestion about "why" changing strings regularly...

I recently discovered, thanking John Renbourn's well informed hint, as well,  the superb Rotosound Super Bronze B12 "piano strings".




        "A while ago, trying out different bronze strings, I came across some old Rotosounds in black and red packets that I had somehow managed to hang on to for years. They sounded really good, bright and well balanced but with a rich tone. The company were amused to hear that anybody should still have strings going so far back but assured me that, several packet designs later, their new strings were still the same quality. Rotosound bass strings have a high profile world-wide which may have overshadowed  their guitar strings. James How, who founded the company in the fifties, engineered a new type of string-winding machine that was a step ahead of the industry and all the strings are produced to the same degree of precision.  In addition to the phospher-bronze  round wounds, Rotosound also make guitar strings in the piano string design. That is with the wrap wire stopping short of the ball end so that a section of the core wire is exposed and only the core wire comes into contact with the saddle.  These strings are called Super Bronze.   It is actually an old idea and I  have a feeling that the very first steel strings used on the guitar in the 1800’s were like that. The gauges for both types of string go from 060 to 018 covered, and 026 to 008 plain."





Amazing sound improvement on my Lowden  S-35 RIO, Martin 00-21 and Harmony Sovereign H-1260 acoustic guitars.



Do you notice something weird on this string?












Sunday, March 15, 2015

Partridge 300B monoblocks and Luxman AT-3000



After a lazy winter, when springtime comes again (... or so...) my energy greatly improves and I find the time and goodwill and strength to move things around like I used to do when younger...

After enjoying The Joke/RK-50 integrated amp, I put in place my old, trusty Partridge/300B mono blocks, here used with Luxman AT-3000 super-permalloy passive preamp.



I'm using these days the smaller system with Cabasse and Studer A-730 disk-player as I'm currently mostly into small scale acoustic music...

This afternoon I greatly enjoyed Current 93's "Honeysuckle Aeons", a superb, dark lucubration by David Tibet and his cohort, a true well kept secret as a 2D4 recording, as well.



The sound of the 300B, now wired to 8 ohm after many years at 16 ohm, is rounder and thicker when compared to the balance of The Joke, but the soundstage size and depth, dynamics and naturalness of voices and overall timbres are stunning.

... but, pals, let me dare... 300B is such an overrated triode: also if pleasant, I mean VERY pleasant... well...  reminding yesterday listening, The Joke and its humble PCL 82s (and Alps RK-50 pot) is truly coming from outer space!





Jean Nantais's Lenco Reference, Siggwan & The Peak




Jean just finished Marion's mighty, bespoke, one-of-a-kind Lenco Reference and the bulky, yet classy and light-to-the-eye behemoth will be soon en route to Texas.



Marion choose the very best for his records playing at home… Jean Nantais's skill and good taste in squeezing the very best from our beloved Lencos' is legendary, as is the beauty of sound of Ebony wand Siggwan unipivot arm from New Zealand and The Peak from Italy, well… it's second to none, with its authority and trueness of sound.

A truly imposing and unique turntable, folks!


I wish Marion to enjoy his new music machine.



Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Joke



After some weeks of overhauling, me and my pals Lo and Francesco, finally were able to transform Luca Chiomenti's superb "Scherzo" PCL 82-based 1,7W integrated amp into a world-class El Cheapo sonic masterpiece.

The throwing away of the ugly walnut case and encasing of the amp into a bespoke 20 mm piano black more elegant chassis, adding new, better internal wire layout and... ta, taaaa... using the mighty Alps RK-50 top-of-the-line potentiometer, well...

... the chrysalis became a butterfly, the duckling a swan, the seed a flower... with Cabasse Dinghy 221 the inter-notes silence is incredible, like the detailing... with Thomas Mayer's Tango EQ-600/WE 437A LCR phono stage, I heard - with small scale recording - a seldom experienced load of micro details and so convincing overall beauty.

 Here shown the four sections RK50 in-hand, for size comparison


 The mighty Alps RK-50








With the old trusty Studer A730 and its TDA1541 "double crown" the sound is - like Vinnie Gallo once wrote "the best radio I ever heard".

1,7W are a very low wattage... BUT 1,700 milliwatts are more appropriate to describe the feeling I have when listening to "Scherzo" amp... also with Cabasse's 98 db/w/m sensitivity.

... now, after getting the Alps RK-50 pot, the butterly... aehm, the amp... is now - respectfully and thanking Luca Chiomenti's skill as a first class designer -  now named "The Joke".

Great music today, folks...


Thanking Lo, Francesco and Kazumasa Oguri-san for great contribution to "The Joke" project and, of course, last but not least, to Luca Chiomenti.






Stupidity Rag




This is the most silly guitar-related shot I saw in decades...




I would be tempted to DO NOT describe the fake, yet... this is such an offense for any guitar player!

Stupidity really rules the world, these days!





Friday, March 13, 2015

R.I.P. Dept. - Daevid Allen passed away...




Founder member of Soft Machine and Gong and visionary mind behind among the most adventurous music ever played during last century passed away after a long illness today, March 13, 2015.

Saw him once in concert, years ago... have a so vivid memory of the evening.

His sense of  music mas HUGE, his Cort glissando guitar and stage white suit were so unique.




Thankiing Riccardo Pioli for the above nice pix (taken in Trieste (Italy), August 1st, 2009)



I own dozens of his discs: the several Deya, Spain recordings period being my most beloved: recorded on A Revox open reel, they are so fresh and timeless!

R.I.P. and enjoy a free-Camembert and herbal-joys world, dear David... Zero to Eternity!






Friday, March 6, 2015

The Sound of Silence




I measured in my studio with Ivie IE-30 real time analyzer a -46 db in August, at 1,00 A.M. or so...







Anechoic room and blood flowing... WOW... I barely experienced something similar - i.e. at night, lightly semi-sleeping, a far pump-plump-pump noise from my heart... a quiet and reassuring noise, indeed.

Life.







Scoop! How REALLY acoustic guitars are made!!!









Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Musings?





Thanking Sam Gross for his no-frills wisdom... 




... beware the carrots...




Friday, February 20, 2015

Slate Audio - The Glassmat for Garrard 301 and 401




 MADE IN BRITAIN


First introduced in 1985, the Glassmat quickly became the best selling replacement turntable mat for both the Garrard 301 and 401. It was also an outstanding success when used with all other non suspended or heavyweight turntables. So successful was the Glassmat that demand often outstripped supply. Production ceased some fifteen years ago, however due to an ever increasing interest in the 301, 401 and other classics such as the Thorens TD124, there is now a renewed demand for The Glassmat. We therefore take great pleasure in re-introducing the Glassmat. By doing so we are now able to offer it to a new breed of connoisseurs. The amazing abilities of the the Garrard 301 and 401 and other classics of that period, have ensured that these players are now commanding the kind of price that they deserve. There was never been any doubt at Slate Audio that these players produced the best sound of all time, if reality is your priority, there simply is no other choice.



White glass...





Brown glass...

The Glassmat is so good, that Ken Kessler of Hi-Fi news asked us to include this mat as the prefered mat when we were asked to restore his own reference Garrard 401 and Thorens TD124  for him. We also fitted his decks to our Slate Audio Marble Plinth system, as well as providing him with our "Powerhouse" quartz referenced power supply. This system is still in use today in his demonstration room. The results of the revised and upgraded turntables were described by him as "magnificent".
The Glassmat improves on the standard mat in a way that will astound you.The Glassmat is produced from "Low Iron Mirror Finished Glass" for a perfectly flat playing surface. The recess for the record label is machined precisely, using CNC technology. In use, the Glassmat will completely damp the platter, as well as provide a firm and unyielding surface for the record to play on. The sub-sonic bass that bowled you over on first hearing will now sound solid, taut, and completely natural with no loss of depth. The highs will be high and clear with true definition and clarity.  As for the mids, they will now be produced in a way that can be unnervingly realistic. We believe that playing music at home should be an event, one that excites and is something that you look forward to with anticipation.  The Glassmat will bring you closer to that event.
The new generation of Glassmats have been refined in certain areas. We now offer a specialised and dedicated mat for each of the Garrards. The Glassmat is now produced in both translucent cream or translucent brown, so are a perfect match for the 301 or 401. The translucent brown version has a universal appearance, and promises the same performance when used with all other non suspended or heavyweight turntables. We have also improved the interface between the platter and the Glassmat with the application of a special micro membrane. This important refinement has led to greater clarity and focus across the whole frequency spectrum.
The Glassmat will easily out-perform all standard or  replacement mats for the 401/301/TD124/ETC, including the much more expensive Crystal Mat from Nagaoka.
Weight is 1.1 kg for increased mass and inertia, as well as complete damping of the platter. Low Iron Mirror finished glass. Diameter is 291.5mm, thickness is 6mm.


Cool and not hideously expensive.





Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

James Turrell's Roden Crater, Arizona




... what an alien, visionary place, folks...






... not far from Flagstaff, New Mexico, close to Arizona border: a volcano re-worked in 30 years by a man whose goal was giving emotion and freeing energy of Mother Nature.

A shrine.

A church without a Pope.

The truest... the only...



Next time...