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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Monday, May 16, 2022

Bill Frisell Trio at Teatro Olimpico


What a concert! 

The first at the beloved, ancient, unique wooden theater in 2+ years, so much more waited for and enjoyed.

Bill Frisell’s playing is so tasteful, measured and unique… with his musicianship and light touch foot-tapping his trusty Line6 DL4 and ElectroHarmonix Freeze effect-boxes, he reached pure bliss.

From Vicenza Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Riccardo Brazzale‘s words:

“ When tonight, shortly after 9 P.M., Bill Frisell attacked "Days of Wine and Roses", more than one, with a hint of hesitation, asked himself: "What does the teacher do, does he play the standards?".  Frisell has always loved the days of wine and roses, from a young age, and now that he's in his seventies (yes, seventy, even if he shows up on stage wearing a striped shirt) he likes to start concerts with those days.  It is with those who also tonight entered a special mood, together with Tony Scherr on double bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums, a mood that he himself and his traveling companions experienced as unique in the magic of the Olimpico.  The right sound, the right volume, absolutely never over the top, the right interplay.  After Henry Mancini's wine and roses came Monk's "Mysterious", then many songs by him, including the beautiful "Waltz for Hal Willner", up to the finale with "What the World Needs Now" by Burt Bacharach.  Outside, leaning against the door of the theater, which remained open to let some air pass, there was a boy with a guitar over his shoulder who listened to music from afar: "I would love to be inside, but so much ... ".  The theater was full but after Bacharach someone was gone and so I said to a mask: "Better call him, if he's still there, let us give him a nice present."  "Come on - I told him - we'll get an encore".  And he was already starting "We Shall Overcome".  The boy with the guitar slung over his shoulder was very excited, his keys fell out, his mask creased.  He no longer understood anything.  Then up, come on, come up, in the peristyle on the right.  Crouched behind the columns, with the guitar over his shoulder, he saw and heard "We Shall Overcome" at the Olimpico, made by Bill Frisell.  Unexpected, the best gift, he didn't know how to thank me.  I was happy to have made him happy, after all with so little.  "We Shall Overcome", we will make it, we will overcome every obstacle, if the music is always with us and we get excited and we want to share the emotions.”

Well: music is healing and I’m glad the encore was enjoyed by this unknown youngster, indeed.

A superb concert, poetic and sweet: has been a privilege being there… kindness will save the world.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Capt. Beefheart’s wisdom


'Captain Beefheart's Ten Commandments For Guitarists'. Art by Eliott Le Calvé "ElioHoHo".

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Wendy Carlos on cassette




… four deads in Ohio…


… as per Neil Young’s seminal song… thanking late Nixon’s tin soldiers…

It’s just amazing giving names and faces to the “four deads” after 50+ years.


Monday, May 2, 2022

Thanks to Terry Riley


Terry Riley recently issued disk, recorded in Bologna, Italy

P.S. - the “Stefano” in title is awesome late double-bass player Stefano Scodanibbio who collaborated with Mr. Riley on several occasions.


My kinda room


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Studer Plus+

From What’s Best Forum - 


Hello folks. Here’s the story so far on our Studer A80 Repro Card exploits. Firstly, I’d like to thank Bruce B for starting this thread and hosting the first listening session.

Next, I want to introduce Jeff Polan, my partner in this effort. I met Jeff thru my Stellavox repair work. He had a deck that needed fixing, which led to extended conversations on tape electronics in general and improving their electronics in particular. Jeff is an electronics design engineer/manufacturer with a career in telecommunications and audio design (he also has 10 US patents in wireless and high-speed data acquisition). A long-time audiophile, this has “extended” into his home audio system, which he’s designed and built most of. The fact that he redesigned the audio electronics in his Stellavox AND his Studer A80 rekindled a thought I had about an upgrade product for that machine -a “plug’n play” repro card. One thing led to another and we began a collaborative effort, Jeff doing the design work and me laying out the PC board. This resulted in the set of prototype cards that I brought to Bruce’s and were we able to listen for the first time.

Why embark upon this effort in the first place? Both Jeff and I realized that the Studer audio electronics have “sonic deficiencies” that can be ameliorated by the use of modern design techniques and parts. My own “outboard” preamp work with many different tape machines had more than proven this and Jeff obtained similar improvements with his own A80. Let me hasten to add that we consider this project as a homage to the A80. The mechanics and tape handling capability of the A80 are first rate. FM sidebands (observed as wow and flutter) are among the lowest of any machine ever made. Plus there are a lot of them still around, so starting with a machine of this high caliber seemed like a good idea. And finally, developments in modern tape characteristics, semiconductors, and purist audiophile analog design meant the time was certainly right for an update of the 40-year old record and repro electronics.

Right from the beginning, making a new Repro card with an identical “fit, form and function”,(“plug’n play”; no rewiring required) was a principal design objective. The original, stock repro card amplified the playback head’s output, equalized the recorded signal back to flat response (coupled to the selected tape speed) and produced a single transformer-coupled balanced, 600 ohm, line-level output signal. Our design objectives were to include NAB; CCIR, AES, and a 4th customizable (nominally 10uS) EQ (selected from the front panel), adjustable bias trap, transformerless output and finally crosstalk compensation.

Our circuit concept mirrors that of Studer’s. The signal from the repro head enters a low-noise preamplifier; bias trap; then equalizer section, followed by a Balanced 600 ohm output stage. In our design, the low-noise pre-amplifier and equalizer sections are fully-discrete semiconductor, class A, direct coupled (no capacitors in the signal path) with a separate, Unbalanced Output available from an RCA jack on the front panel (a production update changed this connector - read on). The 600 ohm balanced output, is supplied from a high quality Integrated circuit balanced line driver that connects to the meter bridge and from there to the stock XLR line outputs. This is what we listened to at Bruce’s.

A limiting factor in the original Studer A80 with meter bridge came from the unbuffered VU meters which added distortion; along with the added cabling; switching and potentiometers in in the meter bridge. So, in order to allow the use of a meter bridge while not influencing the “sound” of the repro card, the final design incorporates a SECOND transformerless output line driver, whose balanced signal is available from a new 4-pin Neutrik connector on the front panel. This connector also includes the above-mentioned provision to “tap” the unbalanced signal from the amplifier/equalizer that proceeds the line driver . So you have your choice of minimalist/purist direct single-ended output, or very clean transformerless outputs!

Get ready for the specs - go Jeff! Discrete DC-coupled Class A amplifier design, carefull gain partitioning, attention to open loop linearity, and judicious application of local and overall feedback results in exceptionally low noise: -86dB A-wtd corresponding to 350nW/m , better than 10 dB -A-wtd noise margin below unrecorded virgin blank tape at NAB, 12dB at CCIR, 14 dB at AES, 15 db at 10uS. Exceptionally low THD and IMD combined with outstanding headroom (better than -80dB THD under all operating conditions thru +19 dB above 350nW/m at the single ended or balanced outputs; Ch-Ch crosstalk is -70 dB typical (Butterfly heads) with the Crosstalk canceller. Highly accurate repro EQ perfromance: +/- 0.5 dB 32 Hz - 20Khz typical at 15ips according to MRL fringing corrected Calibration tape; typically less than -3 dB at 25 Khz (Record/Repro). Whew! The board has High and Low speed Gain, Treble, Bass, and crosstalk user-adjustments . A highly effective Record Bias Trap is included, as is the automatic Studer HS/LS switching, and a power-on/off mute circuit. Full specifications for the production unit are in process, but of course the proof is in the listening which we continue to do.

Right now, the first group of 20 production PC boards are being fabricated. We have been scrambling to assemble enough parts to populate them and in so doing, have run smack into “the COVID wall” - parts discontinued; deliveries unknown and continuing price escalations up to 5-10X. This situation has also exacerbated elimination of the old(obsolete?) method of assembling the boards - from “through hole” parts, inserted and soldered into “holes” in the PC board, to surface mount devices (SMD) which are positions and soldered robotically. This type of SMD construction is cost prohibitive for small volumes. We don’t yet have a per-pair- price, and don’t know how many we could make – especially if the project should prove popular. We do hope to have the first production board available by the end of the year - Bruce B will get the first set for evaluation. We’ll also have a price for the first 10 pairs at that time.

From Bruce’s first posting, a few questions have arisen. Like will this card sound as good as an outboard preamp. That answer is an emphatic - “could very well be”! From a measurement and listening perspective, the card sounds VERY good. Jeff has tried the card on a few machines – both with Studer and Flux Magnetics heads. I don’t have an A80 but am finishing an adapter box to hold a pair of cards plus a power supply - and will be comparing it to my pre plus others.

This project has also spurned a few other “concepts”. The first is repackaging the design to fit in the Studer A8XX recorders, which (I feel) are more in need of repro “help” then the A80. Looking into this, the basic problem is twofold. First, the later A8XX’s used a separate fixed gain preamp built into the headblock. Next is the relatively small footprint of the separate repro card. Jeff is also fixated with the idea of a corresponding, improved RECORD CARD for the A80. He has some novel ideas that he’s “bread-boarded” into his own 80, including a group delay equalizer for correct time domain response, and 2-stage linearizer to compensate for tape and head magnetic saturation characteristics. He believes that a dynamic range/signal to noise ratio - of around 80dB (15ips/500nw/m ref) is doable on 1/4" tape at less than 3% THD . All of this will have to wait to see how this first venture unfolds. Oh and Mike L. – I’m keeping in mind your Zeel 50 ohm preamp input requirements


Thanks to Charles for above interesting post and to What’s Best Forum for… too much to quote 🥇

Listz and Mrs. Senkrah


Anna Loretta Arkness (Arma Senkrah) was 21 years old, and Franz Liszt 75, when they played in duo the Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for an chosen audience at Liszt's house, on July 20, 1885. She played her 1750 Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, explendide violin, that after belonged to Isaac Stern.

Thanking Saulo Zucchello 🥇

The making of Goodmans Axiom 80


I owned two pairs of these amazing speakers and also if I don’t actually use the last pair I kept, I consider them as good as the other Ted Jordan’s masterpieces - i.e. the square shaped magnet, aluminum diaphragm Jordan-Watts’ speakers… as I always say: if the latter were good for beloved, late Be Yamamura, they’re good for me 😏… actually, the single speakers crossover-less I love more!

… but let’s share this archeological sampler about Axiom 80:

Saturday, April 30, 2022

It’s always Jazz Day 🥇


Happy International Jazz Day!!🎼🎹🎷🎺

All That Jazz by Wishum Gregory

A historical montage by Wishum Gregory that features a collection of Jazz Giants. Included in the art print are images of such great singers and musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Billie Holiday, Dizzie Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams and others.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Monday, April 25, 2022

Joni & Mingus



RIP for Roberto Masotti


His poetic eyes captured the jazz giants for decades and his collaboration with ECM set the standard for musicians portraits aesthetic.

I met him at several jazz concerts and he was always so kind to chat and share some short story.

Thanks for your awesome pictures, Maestro, and my deepest, sincere condolences to Silvia Lelli.


Here ECM official announcement:

Roberto Masotti (1947-2022).

Italian photographer Roberto Masotti, an old friend and close associate of ours, has died, following a period of illness. Roberto‘s photos are to be seen on around 200  ECM covers and booklets, beginning with Keith Jarrett’s Bremen/Lausanne box set in 1973. Through the 1970s he regularly commuted between his home in Milan and the recording studios of Oslo and Ludwigsburg, photographing many sessions. From 1979 to 1996, Roberto was, together with his wife Silvia Lelli, official photographer at La Scala Milano, documenting classical music, opera and ballet. 

In parallel, he also worked as a promoter for ECM, in conjunction with Italian distributors Giucar and Ducale, and was a regular presence at the label’s events around Europe. With Manfred Eicher and Dieter Rehm, he curated the first major exhibition of ECM cover art, headlined Se brami vedere, ascolta [You Wish To See, Listen, after St. Bernard de Clairvaux] at Ferrara‘s Palazzo Massari in 1990. Beneath the trees in the grounds of the Palazzo, he photographed a statue of a youth, which later became the cover image of Officium by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble. Roberto’s tastes as a listener often gravitated toward the experimental, and his portfolio included every major figure of the respective avant-gardes of improvisation and contemporary composition.  A striking portrait of John Cage in his New York loft adorned Hebert Henck’s recording of Cage’s Early Piano Music. A massive blow-up of Roberto’s shot of the Art Ensemble of Chicago in action at the Bergamo Festival greeted visitors to the ECM exhibition, A Cultural Archaeology at Munich’s Haus der Kunst. 

Roberto Masotti published several books of his photos. These included Keith Jarrett: A Portrait, chronicling performances and sessions from 1969 to 2009: with images of Jarrett’s American Quartet (with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian), the Belonging group (with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen), the Standards trio (with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette), and solo concerts. 




Sunday, April 24, 2022