Search this Blog


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mario Monicelli or the strength to be a Man

Mario Monicelli, aged 95, passed away yesterday evening at 9 P.M. in Rome.

He was at the hospital and he choose, like his father did, to commit suicide.

Rivers of ink has flowed about his art and craft as a visual poet and a director... I only wish to underline his superb sense of being a Man, whose choices and integrity were... ARE his greatest value.

R.I.P. and thanks for having been, Maestro.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Michel Petrucciani

He's one of my MOST beloved musicians, ever...

He sadly passed away years ago, it was 1999, BUT his playing, an endless hommage to Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk and Paul Bley, ALL filtered through his melodic and so French/Mediterranean rooted sensitivity, is among the very best of XX Century and still shining through his several recordings.

French Post dedicated to him a stamp, worth EUR 0,46... but an EUR 4,6 billion nominal-value would have been more appropriate!

He's, simply said, carved in my heart as a sincere, amazing musician, a pianist who owned a terrific technique and was able to melt down in his music, remodelling himself as a prince on a white horse.

Please give a listen - if shamelessly not owning anything by Michel - to "Au Theatre des Champs-Elysees", a double disk on Dreyfus label... there is a lot of love and warmness from audience and Michel is at his VERY peak: you won't believe to your ears, both musically AND sonically.

Must say I truly loved Michel's playing on (mighty) Bosendorfer's Imperial grand-piano (like on his OWL recordings, MUCH worth a listen), BUT also on Steinway's he's... unbelivable!

An absolute masterpiece...

Friday, November 26, 2010

FLAC - Free LossLess Audio Codec

To know more about FLAC... I'm almost sure it's more for myself than other FAR more knowledged music rippers around... anyway, as I wasn't aware, too busy in vinyl chasing and collecting, maybe others will find these Wikifacts useful, as well...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gotorama à l'Eau de Cologne - Part 2

Saturday listening session at Klaus' Gotorama lasted, unsurprisingly, from about 10 A.M. to 11.37 P.M. - non considering the couple of hours pleasantly spent at table, it counted about 9/10 hours listening to music: something which matched with Jean Hiraga's five hours or so in awe, always listening at Klaus' system, on last June...

Listening fatigue? ... naaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!

Enjoyment? Yeahhhhh!!! Plenty: 100/100, five stars, *****, Hooooraaayyy, WOWOWOW, yiiiiiaaaahhhh!

This, like a pix tells more than 1.000 words, would say ALL, bar none.

Last Sunday morning, after a too brief, last adieu-listen at Klaus' - he and his young nephew accompanied me at the nearby Bahnhof/station to take my train to Koln Hauptbahnhof...

A cold, shiny, sunny morning waiting for the train, joking with the lucky kid who's, quite uncommonly, able to "enter" a 6,30 m long low-bass straight horn (look at one of pixes in previous post)... sure nicest voice-coil I ever knew: astonishingly "efficient" at about 120 db with 1/2W at 6m with a scream,;-)))

After a relaxing trip in the countryside, following a river and villages from the train-window, listening to my iPod (...) changing train but not track in Koln Central station, I arrived at Reinhard's place after about one hour trip.

Met his family and, after having a pleasant, joyful and chatful brunch, as well, we went upstairs to his under-the-roof Gotorama.

More normally sized, his room was, anyway busy and full of booksDVDdisksVHScomputersampshornsdriverscables... a very relaxed, lively atmophere reigned and I was in the best mood for enjoying music through his system: Reinhard's Gotorama is really "The very Best" - i.e. only top-of-the-line Goto Berillyum, four digits drivers: SG-1880BL tweeter, SG-3880BL/S-600 mid, SG-5880BL/S-150 mid-low... and SG-146LD, multiamped with ONLY handmade Class A solid-state amps and 4-ways active crossover!!!

This INCREDIBLE combo was about seven years in the buying process ("Hey Stephano, I'm NOT a billionaire!" told me Reinhard...).

... and that's the point, folks: NO paper cones, also of highest quality, in Reinhard's system!

He cleverly and wisely choose the lesser evil - i.e. is it better a relentless, at best, yet impressive 20-30 hz woofer, always someway clouding upper ways beauty and zest... OR, being content and conscious of "perfect", musical, true 80 hz as made by a straight horn about 2,20 long with a single SG-146LD and its speedy-as-light, 5 inches diam. Titanium diaphragm, per side?

... he choose the less no-compromise of compromises... and the result proved he was right.

Using his thousands titles FLAC/computer-based "discotheque" as the one and only source, with Doede Douma's 120 DAC using Philips 1543 Mk II chips, it was like a tennis match: I quoted a title or an artist and... Reinhard found, flawlessly, on the computer screen, virtually ANY title and/or artist... not the typical audiophile stuff, never!!!

... but Grateful Dead, Jaki Liebezeit & Burnt Friedman, Donovan, Grisman & Garcia, Tim Hardin, Beach Boys, Tim Buckley, Neil Young... NEIL YOUNG!!!

On "Live at Massey Hall", from Neil's archives series, I had wet panties from copious, multiple ejaculations (talking about my very own orgasms, Reinhard;-))))

It's a record - I primitively own and "use" 200 grams vinyl at home, of course... -I appreciate and know well... well: a new layer of veiling GONE!... audience noises and whistlings and handclapping, a young Young;-) joking about his newly acquired ranch... and the musician is so "there", you can touch him, feeling the slightly detuned piano, the pre-war Martin's strings tiny buzzing when fretted by left hand... and nobody cares about the lows stopping at about 80 hz or so...

It's satisfying, natural low-end, nonetheless... enough to suggest the foundation of one of most pellucid and beautiful sounds I ever listened from any system at any price...

... and Klaus' system, only few hours before?

Similar and different... like my own, as when I've back home, I modified levels in my own Gotorama, as well, thanking both Reinhard's and Klaus' balance.

What's sure is... those guys, thanking, maybe... Eau de Cologne;-) are soooo vastly ahead the average audio buffs, myself and virtually ALL my friends, in Japan, Italy or Germany - as well - included...

Reinhard spent years saving to afford those hand-made stuff from Japan... but, as usual, money spending isn't enough and wouldn't have been sufficient to justify "that" result: only the love for music and never loosing the target and ALL the care for detail while keeping eyes on both tiny and huge "ameliorations" like Reinhard says, down to the using old transformer enamelled 50 years old copper as speakers wire... search and chance, trial and error: any improvement is a gem, searched, reached and made a value for life... a no-return adventure, "per aspera ad astra".

Once everyone, the proud owner included, seat for a listen in "this" beauty of a music machine... like Reinhard said to me, only few days ago "I feel me in Heaven!".

It's Reinhold Messner's on-top-of-Everest feeling.

Bravo for unshakingly persuing the goal, while humbly - like only great people does - giving greatest merits to Klaus and his sort-of "opening" the route with Japan and those shy, elusive artisans and workshop, back in 1978.

I sincerely thanks Reinhard for his great hosting and translating and sharing his knowledge and kindness and friendship...

... so: Arigato gozaimashita, Reinhard-Sensei san: Klaus and you really got "the" Path.

Gotorama à l'Eau de Cologne - Part 1

... since few weeks ago, my supremely, embarassingly untechnical mind, if hearing someone talking about "FLAC", would have guessed a slang or American/English pronunciation of, say, "flock" or "flag" or something...

Reinhard, a friend from Koln, kept a flawed, ignorant me under his friendly, knowledged wing and truly flooded - sic... again: an obsession;-((( - me with ABSOLUTELY stunning emails, full of links and tips and suggestions.

This empathy-at-a-distance culminated in a meeting, as I recently - actually 'twas last weekend - I flew to Koln/Bonn Airport where another friend - Klaus, also a great, GREAT guy and a close Reinhard's friend - picked me up in the late, foggy German evening and cocooned and brought me to a bed for the night.

Next day, in a foggy morning in the hills, in a beautiful, quiet area west of Koeln, I woke up, as nervous as one hour before an exam, as... drums and fifes... I was after listening to, better, being in truest Gotorama ever!

Klaus picked me up at the hotel and after a short ride in the hills, we arrived at his place... ohhhh my... a beautiful house with a nice garden and smiles from a kid, a young lady and Klaus' wife... and, after a staircase (to Heaven?!?!;-))) I was in the room which so impressed me also on paper, when reading recent Jean Hiraga's report after visiting this VERY system and people, last June.

We were joined for a brunch in the afternoon by Reinhard... and chatting, laughing, sharing, listening to great music.

Well: I could stop here, as the human involvements of the meeting was the gift, the truest gem and my VERY own treasure... ah;-)!

... but, as I love sharing...

So... the room: an auditorium more than a "room"... built with greatest attention to details... from walls paint, raw and grainy to give a throughout reflections taming, to the inner roof, a masterpiece of wood and terracotta, tons of self-taming unparallel ceiling, reminding Rudy van Gelder's Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio... not by chance.

Klaus was - almost sure - the VERY first Goto's customer in Europe, back in 1978!

He spent months, almost two years, actually, ONLY to be accepted as a reputable, trusty party, by then sole Goto's agent "Royal Sound" (...); then followed handwritten (!!!) correspondence, telex (!!!!!!), translations, long stand-by and pondered waiting... then commercial agreements, and bill-of-lading, Hamburg's harbour and custom clearing... after all the above pioneeristic, old-timey, pre-WEB difficulties, yet rewarding relationship... finally a youngest Klaus was able to begin his adventure: the building of his Gotorama;-)

SG-160, SG-505, SG 370DX... then SG-38W and finally SG-146LD... with these ingredients and - literally - an MDF quantity worth a soccer field;-) and drawings and mods and rendering and fiddling and sweating under impressive sizes and weights and hair whitening in the meantime... finally the goal was reached: me witnessing Klaus' eyes and smile was another seldom seen human fact.

Happiness... Nirvana.

Klaus and myself, with great logistic - i.e. translating - support of Felix, his young son - simply get in touch at a very deep (high?!?) level, sharing and enjoying music... as money and business unrelated as breathing in the chilly morning air outside the auditorium.

"Spoonful" by Cream, "Magic Bus" by Who (Live at Leeds), "Tin Pan Alley" by Stevie Ray Vaughan, The O-Zone's percussions group on Klavier (superb!), my own discs - Petrucciani, Wheeler/Holland/Koonitz/Frisell, etc. - (BTW... hey, Klaus: I forgot Christina Pluhar's "Los Impossibles" disk among your disks, near the preamp...;-))), "Timeless" by John Abercrombie, Johnny Depp's "Pirates of Caribbean" soundtrack, Jaki Liebezeit & Burnt Friedman's "Secret Rhythms" (WOWOWOWOWOWWOWOW!)... a single classical guitar, a triangle kept their natural sizes, as Cream and Clapton's God-like "Black Beauty" ('58 Gibson Les Paul Custom with 3 x PAF pickups) and Jack Bruce's EB-4 hollow body bass were... simply sublime... WOW!

"Cream Live in Germany";-))) - Pure bliss!

Do you want more?

The "sound" is no brainer... so, will not talk audiophile lingo - i.e. soundstage, depth of image; let's talk about "music", always, ever... it's a system which delivers music, completely transparent and non-existing for the ear and listener, something so rare as the bulkiness and impressive appearance, also outstanding, could have been, in lesser hands, distracting, a monument to... stupidity and self-supponence... not THIS, the case, folks, as ONLY the great love and care and dedication, the humbleness in understanding "what" those expensive stuff - Goto and straight horns, actually sexiest;-) stuff, but also FLAC/(99,9999) jitter-free digital music, using handmade Doede Douma's 60 DAC having great merits, indeed, are, "truly" are - I mean - able to reach.

Hiraga-san, as a music lover and someone whose knowledge and direct experiencing the VERY best system worldwide is out of ANY doubt, agrees: it's VERY special and VERY seldom heard stuff, using an euphemism... BUT maybe "unique" is much more appropriate.

... and, humbly and lucky enough I was, myself too, being "here" to experience and judge (= enjoy) with my VERY own ears and musical sensitivity and taste, I agree.

It's M-U-S-I-(C) reached, at last... a possible task, indeed.

(... to be continued in "Part 2"...)

A Deadhead in the Industry?

Yes... it happens...

Received a message from David and browsed in his rigs... sure worth a look.

Don't be fooled by the turntable "ON" the EV Sentry (?!?!)... his 150 Grateful Dead's concerts attendee status gives to him also this allowance;-)))

A cool guy... and a nice site, devoted to music.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A (musical) fishing pole

As found in Leonardo da Vinci's scrapbook;-)

Thanks to Holger for hinting... ;-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

WJAAS - Okakura Kakuzo's The Book of Tea

Yesterday, at the flea-market, because life - like the show - must goes on...

I found (for a fiver) a first italian edition - dated 1953 - of Okakura's "The Book of Tea", the seminal booklet he wrote in 1906 - in English - while he was working in Boston and NYC, and comparing the timeless myths and aesthetics of his beloved Japan to Western habits.

The "Tea" in the title, is, of course, only an excuse...

Have a read to the following... and forgive me for my poor translating!

"The analogic power the myth pours, enlightens the sense given to the cult of ceremony of tea: to remain well awaken to do not fall asleep in automatic repeating of every day practices, being so able to do not forget "what" we're really doing.

First, truest reality is that of spirit: when busy and flooded (...) by everyday eveniences, we're almost forgetting our truest essence... tea brings us from empty world noise to our inner quietness.

Japanese culture, in his deepest, truest essence and heritage, has infused in tea ceremony and its declinations (schools) the above lesson, making it MUCH more than a pure aesthetic hobby or a drink.

In Eastern Asia and Japan, a very strict and severe ritual has been brought to the state of the art, giving an access from everyday life and its prosaic facts to a superior, better world of intensity, an archetipal sphere of aesthetic beauty.

The humble drinking a cup a tea was - and still is - elevated and, through a rich vocabulary, so rich of multi-level cultural faces and also the harmonic display of gestures and rituals, demanding for a distant self-consciousness, resulting in a complex tapestry of poetry and formal beauty.

The listening to our VERY inner voice uses all means available: poetry (haiku), painting, pottery (raku), calligraphy, philosophy and music (koto).

Gesture is paramount: body and its needs is directly emanating from the mind and the so supremely measured ritual in tea ceremony are more descriptive of consciousness than words.

Every little movement of hands, the attention to details, also tiniest, is respectful and rich in its naked, supernatural care: it's the re-affirming of Man's status on the Animal (the Ape)... it's relaxed and careful, conscious and emptied of violence and desire."

... now, change "tea" with "audio" or, better, "music"... like "light tea" and "dense, heavier tea" have different drinking times, try to apply this as a ritual when listening to your next fave disc: choose the music you really need to listen to, find it on the shelf, handle the cover carefully, appreciating its material and colours and paper quality and smell it, show and handle it to a friend, sharing the beauty, take disc from rice paper dust envelope, then brush carefully the vinyl from dust, if needed, place it on the platter, have dimmed lights as you please, carefully tune the best volume setting, adapting it to the given piece you're going to appreciate, have a Cao Lilla single malt handy and... voilà: your "ceremony of the music listening at home" will immediately have a brand-new sense and will make your listening experience much more conscious and deep and satisfying and you'll immediately transform yourself from a magazine slave into a music lover.

It's "Zen and the Art of Listening"...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Best man friend? Dog, of course.

... and man worst enemy? Mud... and fear and ignorance, of course!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


This music system - placed in a "room" I'd give a left-hand finger for - was transformed from a "normal" one to a "special" one: I still remember when the owner received his S-150 horn and left it wrapped in the shipping bubble plastic... then he, apparently, found a viable way to manage bulkiness, still using his previous "bass" enclosure... then... the bass horn project and, finally, the complete system...

Darwin himself would be smiling at this system growth and genesis;-)

Bravo to the owner!

... and thanks (again & again...) to Roman Bessnow and to his site for endless enriching.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The most perfect song - It Suits me Well - Sandy Denny

Some cold Wikifacts about the 2nd eponymous Sandy Denny's album where this superb song, also written by Sandy herself, so humbly plays as the next-to-last on side two.

A little story behind this VERY song choice: it was 1972 and I was a student, always with my little "Tico-Tico";-) brand transistor radio "ON" and, like happened so many times, I remained jaw-dropped for 5,05 minutes;-) when the DJ, at the time called a "conductor" [(a pompous nickname more apt to an orchestra conductor than to a youngster talking about records;-), but those were the days;-)] put that disc on the turntable platter.

... anyway, at the time I owned, maybe, 40 sweated;-) vinyl 33 r.p.m. records and read three music magazines: "Ciao 2001" weekly and "Gong" and "Muzak" monthly and dreamed about "buying and listening to ALL and EVERY record in the world", as I told to my mom one day (...)

Radio was, plainly said, a window on the world of music and, that afternoon, "It Suits me Well" stopped my heartbeat, clock hands, and my breathing, as well.

Sandy Denny's voice was so... burnished, unique, touching and moving... on a Saturday morning I went to "Gabbia" records shop in Padua where I ordered to Sandra - then a friend - that LP where the above song was contained.

I remember I had to whistle the melody and she, by chance, recognized the song as, she also, like we all, was listening to "that" radio station.

I remember when maybe after a couple weeks - maybe it was another Saturday - the record arrived: the joy, the waiting were only a pleasant overture to the intense pleasure of the very first listen in my room so near to come... I remember I almost fell in love for Sandy Denny, looking at the superb picture on the cover!

A record was considered in its truest essence - i.e. not a good, an item, BUT the casket containing a world of music and beauty and...

"It Suits me Well" accompanied my whole life, to date and every time I listen to it, I simply skip to the next-to-last track of side two, first, and I listen, I HAVE to listen to, "that" song, always first... then, after my orgasm, I return to the turntable and listen to the whole album, from first track/first side.

... and, yes... I'm right now whistling the timeless melody, indelebly carved in my very own inner hard-disk;-)))

It's a sign...

Last month The New York Post reported that the "Joey Ramone Place" road sign in the Bowery was to be raised 20 feet off the ground, a result of the theft four times since its unveiling in 2003, according to the city's Departement of Transportation.

Hard-times for the die-hard (musical) souvenirs collectors...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A truth

"Chi ama la cultura, ama tutte le culture e quindi è contro il razzismo"
Claudio Abbado (direttore d'orchestra)

("Who loves culture, loves ALL cultures, hence is against racism")
Claudio Abbado (conductor)

A sad aphorism?

"Io odio essere italiano, ma per fortuna o purtroppo, lo sono" - Giorgio Gaber

(I hate to be italian, but fortunately or unfortunately, I am so" - Giorgio Gaber (italian songwriter and actor)

... no: bitter/sweet, BUT so true, it's a song by Giorgio Gaber!

Only a genius and a poet can say so well - using only few words - how I feel me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Flooded! ... but my wife, myself, Chicco (our dog) and Gotorama are safe!

Hi all... first Internet after 8 days... two cars lost in the mud, PLUS my beloved BMW enduro bike in 140 cm dirty water and mud (I'll hopefully rescue it, as after one day in the deep water, I pushed by hand in knees-deep mud & water out of the (flooded) garage to my motorbike-doctor loving hands, who promptly dismantled it and cleaned, down to every tiny cable and screw... and it get "ON" at first attempt the day after!), part of my vintage audio speakers collection (Westrex, RCA, JBL, Saba, Emilar, Siemens Klangfilm) lost, trying to save them at my speakers-technician workshop in Bologna...

My studio where is Gotorama's system was only higher on the river level so no problem there... but my wife's vintage (yes, it's a family obsession...) dishes and glasses and vases collections were under mud and water for three days... and tiring, dirty, awful working in the mud was really hard for last 7 days, now!

Sure - money-wise - a BIG pain in the ass, BUT lot of friends worldwide already read about Northern Italy flood and wrote kind words... deepest thanks to everyone.

Thanks to Alberto Rubbini (my speakers technician) and to Mariano Antonello (my bike doctor) and, most of all, to the several volunteers, young people, students and common people and Protezione Civile's guys who, without ever knowing our names and viceversa, hardly worked in the mud with us for one week for free. I'll never forget this...

One of them asked to me for something, calling me "Sir!"... I replied: "No, I'm not a "Sir"... you all are "the" gentlemen!"

Hugs to them all.

P.S. - cannot dodge also saying "Thanks!" to the Web-pals who used the "Donate" push-button after this very post... I'm really, REALLY surprised, embarassed AND moved... thanks - sincerely - to everyone.