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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flea-market treasures - Igor Stravinsky's "Histoire du Soldat" on Philips "Tresors de la Musique"

Record title: Jean Cocteau - Histoire du soldat
Record label: Philips / 420 773-2
Medium: CD
Year recorded: 1962

Additional performer(s):
Main soloists:
Jean Cocteau (lecteur)
Peter Ustinov (devil)
Jean-Marie Fertey (soldier)
Anne Tonietti (princess)

Igor Markevitch

I. Stravinsky
Track listing:
Histoire du soldat

Playing time 54:03
Recorded Vevey, Switzerland 10/1962

Ulysse Delécluse - clarinet
Henry Helaerts - bassoon
Maurice André - trumpet
Roland Schnorkh - trombone
Charles Peschier - percussion
Manoug Parikian - violin
Joachim Gut - double-bass

Main soloists, Jean Cocteau (lecteur), Peter Ustinov (devil), Jean-Marie
Fertey (soldier) and Anne Tonietti (princess), Markevitch directing.

Conductor: Igor Markevich. In October 1962, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, Igor Markevich presented as a gift to the Swiss village of Vevey, where he had spent the greater part of his youth, an unusual concert. On this occasion, one of the musical diversions was a performance of Igor Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat with the exceptional performers who are heard in this recording, made by Philips a few days later in Vevey.

A legendary recording!

The above is a cut & paste from the Web... BUT, folks... ah!

I found - for the cost of a coffee - a mint, first French pressing of the Philips' disc and when, yesterday evening, I put on the Garrard the heavy wax, my jaw dropped!!!

Peter Ustinov and Jean Cocteau... JEAN COCTEAU!!! were in my studietto...

A recording from 1962 with EVERY and ALL the merits of Philips' recording skill... the voices are simply unbelivable in trueness and the soundstage is huge and EXTREMELY lively... the hoochie-coochie one-of-a-kind voice of a younger Peter Ustinov is - alone - worth the disc... like the Cocteau's drawing on the (original) cover-art.

I was like captured by the French text and the music intervowing... percussions, double-bass, extremely beautiful violins...

BTW, a musing: the poor Princess - i.e. Anne Tonietti, only sings a minuscule part, only few words in all recording, at the very end;-)

A must have in this VERY edition, still available with some luck - on Web or at some flea market... or, better than nothing, Amazoning for the disk, at least...

A truly superb recording!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Worldwide Vintage Audio from New Zealand

Great items from DownUnder... like that "Flash Gordon-era" Philips' amp, and, always by Philips, a Bakelite grilled 9710 (wide-band) based speaker.

... and more cool items.

Have a look.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

1st Flag Counter's birthday

... aehm... on May 28th. 2010 I linked "Flag Counter" app to my Blog... several friends and Web-pals followed me, as I followed someone else before... usually not my cup-of-tea - i.e. writing a (sort-of) diary in a Blog written form isn't a match and there aren't winners or losers... anyway, I know I was looking, in the last days, that Blogspot's "Views" counter was reaching "something"... the above, mixed with the Countries counter proceeding... well... I'm someway embarassed AND glad at same time, folks.

I mean: up-to last night 200.000+ "eyes" from 157 (different) Countries read my posts during last twelve months... hey: it's ONLY 32 Countries less than Scientology's counter;-))))

Seriously: thanks to everyone for the loyal fellowship and interest and ALWAYS a pleasure for me sharing, humbly so, my findings and "vision", commenting this or that... with the minimum of hidden violence and the maximum of smiling-ratio;-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan!

Bob Dylan is 70!

Happy birthday to His Bobness and many wishes and best of all, anytime, anywhere...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paolo Longhin's tube-tester from Italy

Paolo Longhin from Cesano Maderno (Milan) - Italy builds a superb, freshly made tube-tester unit... weight is about 7 kilos in its alu flight case and... look by yourself... a clever, recently designed, technically updated, no frills laboratory instrument!


Munchen Hi-End 2011


... sure industry is "tuning" to the Third Millenium's needs and wishes...

Bo "Bosse" Hansson passed away...

Bosse, the soul of Opus 3 and Rauna of Sweden - the humble and untired recording artisan who suggested to me and several others that a Revox' open-reel recorder and two mikes were enough to make a record - sadly passed away on the evening of last Friday, May 20th, after a quite long illness...

Audio and music world are MUCH lesser places, now...

I truly feel me wounded and sad... his lesson in taste and kindness with yours truly will be never forgotten.

Thanks to my friends David and Moray for hinting such a devastating new and my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

I'll miss you, dear Bosse...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tonewood.... where ALL and everything begins

Ciresa from Tesero, in Trentino (Italy), at 1000 m above sea level is THE source of best spruce soundboards for pianos, violins, cellos, guitars and lutes as used in best workshops worldwide... and EVERYTHING begins from a cheap, natural material: the wood.

Will visit it soon... stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Annual Nick Drake Gathering 2011 in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire (UK)

The place to be, on next July 22nd and 23rd, 2011 if you love Nick's heritage and music.

His fond and beloved memory never grew stronger since his untimely death, back in 1974... the concerts happens not far from his grave is the small Churchyard, in same cemetery where the late Mike Hailwood, the famous English motorbike champion, is.

Dmitry Gubchenco - bespoke audio from Russia

Thanking Roman's suggestion, here is Dmitry Gubchenco's site... NOW I finally "know" who made the impressive multi-amped horn system, using ALL top-of-the-line Goto's drivers, as previously seen in Shinichi Tanaka-san's site - i.e. the one with ALL those Golden Discs hanging on the walls, possibly located in Moscow and the property of a (famous) musician.

From the photo gallery, quite impressive, it seems the workshop is able to manage and deal with every aspect of a music/audio system, from source to amps and speakers... very high building quality on amps and (tube) crossovers, with a someway Giger-tinted aesthetics.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Black Dog

Black dog... Black Eyed Dog... for the late Nick Drake, it was - possibly - the Death itself... for me and my wife, a black dog was... pure Love!

Yesterday evening we brought our pup Chicco to the doctor for a check-up, after it got an infection after some insect biting or something...

We arrived at the veterinary and found a mess... a stray cat hitted by a car, a female Aussie sheep dog checking up after a surgery and... "that" black dog...

It was maybe 10 years old or so... its master was a tattooed guy with huge, dark sunglasses and... the dog mouth was COMPLETELY, wildly "wrong": wide, bloody, thick and... nasty, distorted looking.

We asked about that so heavy disease and we learned it was a sort-of mouth cancer which was literally plaguing the poor black, old suffering pup...

Nonetheless and despite the pain it sure felt, the ill dog was still "playing" as a dog... smelling, peeing, being curious and tail shaking ALL the time... and it was thirsty, as well... it drunk and it left some blood in the bowl.


I was bemused, and deeeeeeeply moved and saaaad, as its eyes were soooo beautiful and quiet and sweeeeet... the guy and his young wife with a new-born child were ALL very warm and near to the black dog...

When, after half an hour, the doctor called for the dog, we - finally - understood it... stop being so silly... HE, the black dog, entered the ambulatory to get a pitiful, poisonous shot to alleviate HIS pain and illness, at last...

Me, my wife, the guy... we all were in tears, as the poor, old dog get HIS shot in vein and HE moaned and lamented HIMSELF...

Shortly after, HE quietly, SOOO dignitously walked at HIS master side, in the lawn behind the doctor's ambulatory... he peed and smelled and drunk... for the last time, ever...

It was a VEEEERY sad evenience, folks... I remember I looked at HIM in HIS eyes when HE was still on his poor, battered, suffering legs... then, some moments after, I saw HIM in HIS master's arms, still, but still with the life fire in HIS poor, now much quieter eyes... HIS weird, ill-fated and badly distorted mouth was... YES, HE was smiling to me... I'm sure HE did so...

I was in tears again, while my wife, with Chicco at her side, never stopped sighing in these infinitely looooong minutes... it was the passion of the Black Dog...

I had an emotive short-circuit and I had to stop to look and to think to the whole matter... to someway self-protect me... BUT when I looked at the water bowl HE used only few moments before, with some blood in the water, like suspended... I was in sighing, painful tears again...

My wife, Chicco and myself, hadn't the temper and the strength to wait for the end of the passion... I loaded the car of wife and dog and... after only few minutes we were in the countryside, looking for some fresh air and confort in the evening crickets singing and beautiful sundown...

A VERY deep experience, it was, folks... what I saw in this poor dog passing away and HIS eyes wasn't angriness, nor pain, neither sadness... I saw ALL the love he got from people who loved HIM, in life as in the last moments of HIS life...

... and, I swear: he smiled to me and to the world... a weird, distorted, bloody teeth, BEAUTIFUL smile... and Love was pouring from him and still does now, as I'm writing, in tears - right now - and I'm honouring HIM and the miracle of Love between Man and our beloved Pets.

... I loved you, dear, when you smelled my knee with your wet, poor nose, while entering the doctor ambulatory for the VERY last time and when I caressed your hairy back-bone.

R.I.P. dear, beloved pup...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vicenza's JAZZ FESTIVAL 2011: my VERY own highlights

This year Jazz Festival has been strange, indeed... I only attended to three concerts, Markus Stockhausen and a loops-based cool quintet and - on same evening - Miroslav Vitous' (temporary) group; then, in Palladio's Teatro Olimpico, the superb Paolo Fresu with A Filetta vocal group from Corsica, introducing their last ECM's effort and... Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet) with Antonello Salis (piano) and Gunter "Baby" Sommer (drums), and, must honestly say, that... the most humble, for-free, open-air concert has also been THE very best, maybe one of the VERY best concerts I attended in the last two years or so...

I only knew Wadada Leo Smith and his awesome "Yo Miles" double disk with Henry Kaiser et al., re-creating the cool "Bitches Brew" magic...

I also appreciated several times Antonello Salis' INCREDIBLE stage energy with fisarmonica and piano and prepared piano...

... but who REALLY stopped my heart-beat was the drumming, inventiveness and sense of weird rhythm and controlled craziness of Gunter "Baby" Sommer, a German drummer with dozens of superb discs on Berlin's Free Music Production and several other labels...

His playing was AWESOME - imagine an intense 60+ sticks maven in pirate-like white shirt, playing a minimalist drum-set - old style bent wood and skin, NO plastic - using mallets and sticks and... maracas (!!!) which with some cool wild screaming made a piece with sparingly used Ishmael's horn sounds of alien, seldom heard beauty!

Sommer's poly-rhythms were reminding me some (South Africa/UK) Luis Moholo's drumming which SOOO much impressed me some years ago... a circular, always changing flux of percussive sounds, truly moving and hinting to "other" music and worlds.

Yes, Antonello's and Wadada's playing were also top class.... BUT the old German lion, with his bold and braveheart appearance and drumming was... my VERY own highlight!

Other concerts? ... found VERY boring Vitous' "hommage" to Weather Report's music... while I liked Stockhausen's and Fresu's...

... BUT nothing compared with Smith/Salis/Sommer's trio, folks!

I'm digging about this great musician and his several, countless discs.



Sunday, May 15, 2011

How things should be done...

LOWTHER/Hegeman or whatever, one of the best audio ads I ever saw...

Thanking Bill Frisell's music.

Musings - Farts Variation Opus # 2 for horn solo

Who says women own a lesser "tone"?!?!

Musings - Farts Variation Opus # 1 for horn solo and moped

The interaction between beans hinted horn solo and moped noise sweetly modulates... an Heavenly Matching!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

News from ECM - a stellar quartet new issue

A quartet of master musicians and a programme of jazz classics. “Live At Birdland” presents the finest moments from two inspired nights at New York’s legendary club, as Konitz, Mehldau, Haden and Motian play “Lover Man”, “Lullaby Of Birdland”, “Solar”, “I Fall In Love Too Easily”, “You Stepped Out Of A Dream” and “Oleo” with freedom, tenderness, and a love of melody that only jazz’s greatest improvisers can propose.


"If you're trying to imagine what jazz sounds like in a dream state, Lee Konitz's "Live at Birdland" will get you there..."
- Evan Haga, JazzTimes

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dawg! Tone Poems ad libitum...

Since a couple of days ago, I'm fondly digging my David Grisman's superb opus magna - i.e. those "Tone Poems" recordings in their so various variations...

Tony Rice, first and, then, virtually every best guitar and mandolin and resophonic from the six continents!

All Acoustic's are among the very best music and recordings available... I could write and suggest and hint... BUT I prefere to link to David's site and leave to everyone unleashed curiosity and braveness the pleasure to discover... say, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman in " Shady Grove" where every Deadhead will find his deepest, truest roots... Jerry's voice owns "that"... compassion!

Every time I listen to this disk I'm in tears...

"Pizza Tapes", every "Tone Poems" and ALL Garcia & Grisman's are MUCH worth deepest and most sincere interest.

Dig it!


No comment...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Horns as a social weapon, against poisonous mining activities

Desibel's idea is REALLY great, like the 10 meters long horn they conceived and used for their protest...

Not an April's Fool: have a look at the above INTERESTING link and... WOW: try it with a bookshelf speaker;-))) - mosquito farts vs. the Voice of an Angry God!

Some electronically-manipulated trombone notes, shouting - at 130 Db at 10 meters... - to those capitalists (ears), wasting a fjord... a voice to a shame listenable at several km afar.

Clever... and, POSSIBLY, the VERY first "stereo protest", ever!


As Rolf Lislevand wittingly wrote in the liner notes of a superb Astree/Naive disk, by mr. Lislevand with his Kapsberger Ensemble - "Santiago de Murcia Codex", the use of colascione was an historic joke - i.e. a seldom seen and heard instrument played by a musician - a double bassist - who never played it on seldom played music and no written part for it, the elusive colascione;-)

What's a colascione?

How's made?

Does it REALLY exist?

Definitely YES: it's a three single strings large instrument with an extremely long diapason - i.e. 140 - 180 cm - of the lute family.

The body of a theorbo and a faaaar longer neck... it produced a deep, eerie bass which perfectly - you'd bet it? - blends with lutes, chitarra battente and small percussions, so tipycal instrumentarium of Renaissance music.

A violone or basso di viola (da gamba) would also have been a nice choice, BUT for the more integralists among the ancient music musicians - a strange breed;-) - it simply make MORE sense using same family stringed instruments.

A true dinosaur... yet still present on several Christina Pluhar's Alpha disks and... on Rolf Lislevand's disk, of course - a true beauty!

Sound & music

Yesterday evening I was lazily fingerpicking my '64 Guild F-212 and I was floating in its gorgeously rich tonalities and sound and I was impressed about "How much" I loved listening to myself playing, yes... I know the usual stuff about astral body, blah, blah, blah...

... nonetheless, I noticed I wasn't liking the "tune", BUT the "sound" itself - i.e. a two tones below concert pitch (A=440hz) twelve-strings guitar produces a totally new plethora of weird vibes, due to (harmonic) rattling of slopped double strings... the overtones are reminding to some Claudio Rocchi, Leo Kottke, Gabby Panhuini, Robbie Basho's (guitars) sounds which are in my DNA.

Unfortunately, this "memory lane" aspect do not completely explains the pleasure of those "sounds" - they're growling and strange, BUT sort of, like in the seldom imperfect, sometimes detuned/slightly timing poor blues singing from the Masters - i.e. Robert Johnson, Skip Spence, Pete Williams, Son House - they add humanity to an otherwise "too much polished" guitar sound...

Let's think about John Lee Hooker's seminal "Boom, Boom" without his wild "aho, aho, aho!" at the beginning of the song (in the Chicago scenes, from "The Blues Brothers" movie, for example)... what would it be without it... can't imagine!

Yesterevening I was playing an up tempo my own version of "Cripple Creek" and the simple, repeated with variations, melody was GREATLY enhanced, in variety and sense of surprise, by those growling, baaaad sounds... no one bar was like the previous and I knew the following round was also different... ordinately and cleverly using chaos-theories while playing;-)))

The above also brought me to think, in early '90s while in Dublin, when I was picking a brand new Lowden acoustic guitar in a nice shop... after some minutes of quiet playing, a shop employee joined me with another Lowden for a brief jam...

When we chatted about the guitars, he didn't told me "Nice playing!" or something... to my surprise, he said: "Nice touch, nice sound!"... indicating my hands.

To my younger mind this sounded like an absolute compliment, MUCH better than a generic, impersonal and corteous "You play quite well..." or the like.

Now, decades after, I sort-of "know" that there is no (good) music without (good) sound... every instrument has its secrets and the skill to master it is pure richeness.

When five years ago I attended to a (lute) masterclass by Hopkinson Smith, as an invited auditor... during the two VERY intense days, Hopy infused in young lutenists part of his wisdom and knowledge... I was impressed that he spent 80 percent of the time insisting about "beauty of sound" while playing: right fingering and body position, breathing... it was clearly in a life-long love story with the sound of his lute and the healing and distilled peaceful force coming from a few grams of wood and hide glue and strings.

All the above is absolutely "right" and pretty natural, as well... eons ago, before the Music it was the Sound and its infinite declinations.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Horns around the World (3)

A street wholesaler... from India.

EMT Family Tree

EMT's cartridges have been a miracle of commercial protectiveness with their one-of-a-kind "diamond" shaped mount...

Here is an extremely well made resume of 50 years of EMT's cartridges, with seldom read data... thanking my friend Seo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ears and hearing - Ambiphonics or the Untold Side of the Sound...

"Abstract: Recordings of music and film soundtracks contain cues used by the ear/brain to localize sound. Home or studio reproduction using conventional stereo, 5.1, 7.1, or 10.2 distorts these cues and creates false ones. The result is localization distortion, which degrades horizontal and depth imaging of direct and ambient sound, degrades clarity of instruments, colors the sound, and greatly reduces size and depth of the sonic stage. Localization distortion can be reduced to very low levels by a technology called Ambiophonics. Ambiophonics, at its simplest, consists of crosstalk-cancelled playback by two closely-spaced, front speakers. The result is that one can now hear at home what the recording microphones hear—and what the microphones hear is greatly improved horizontal and depth localization; solid, clear, three-dimensional imaging; less colored sound; improved clarity and tonality; improved transient response; and a sonic stage that is very deep and very wide—at least 150 degrees—compared to the 60-degree wide stage of the stereo equilateral triangle. Ambiophonics does not artificially increase the width and depth of the stage. Instead, it reduces localization distortion to such low levels that one can hear the width and depth that was actually recorded on the disc. Details are discussed for setting up an Ambiophonic system with 2, 4, or 6 speakers."

... the above mentioned extract from an erudite essay, yet written as an ignorant, humble me is able to understand it in its greater lines, can be found in its completeness at Tact's site, which makes sort-of honour, per-se...

This apparently over-complex treatize is a great opportunity written in a semi- technical (it's a badly expressed compliment which I hope the authors will forgive to me...) down-to-earth lingo and prose, YET truly scraping the misterious relationship among music, real instrument, ears and aural perception.

A MUST for any music and audio scholar.

Thanks to Boz for his knowledge and support.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fleet Foxes' last effort: from CSN&Y's "Helpless" to F.F.'s "Helplessness Blues"

Times They're a-changin', folks... with a STRONG feeling of "Deja Vu";-)

"Helplessness Blues is a deeply uncool album. If you played it for your dad he’d either say, “Finally,” or he’d laugh and put on some Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, maybe even America if you stuck around. Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes’ singer and songwriter knows how unhip this music is. In his Progress Report interview he said “You know, if we were suddenly making a witch house record then that would feel pretty inauthentic, but I feel pretty comfortable with what we’re doing. Playing folky music is what we do best.” Staying within their comfort zone, remaining authentic to themselves, has paid off on Helplessness Blues. By working within the folk tradition (and seeing themselves as part of it), they’ve created a record that will appeal to fans of the genre, and people ambivalent about folk music as well. Maybe even people who dislike folk music. It helps you love Helplessness Blues if you love ’60s and ’70s folk rock, but the record is so good that it projects the vitality of those records, rather than just their influence. So maybe Fleet Foxes isn’t the Salem of folk rock, but they may be the James Blake (sorry) of folk rock, the album so likable that it elevates a genre that others have been working with for years (well, decades). In other words, thanks to Helplessness Blues, white-bread folk rock is back.

There are a few reasons for this. Pecknold is less oblique, more straightforward lyrically on their second album. His details and the overall album theme can be mundane in places. Helplessness Blues is about aging and feeling useless, it’s meant to be mundane. But over the album’s beautiful instrumental arrangements and warm blankets of harmony, these details and themes feel transcendent, spiritual, and deep. Aging and waiting show up in different ways, from the opening lines of opening song “Montezuma,” where he sings “Now I am older than my mother and father when they had their daughter / What does that say about me?” to the description of kids tossing pennies in a fountain in “The Shrine / An Argument.” There are parents on one side of Pecknold, children on the other. Since he’s neither, he (like many of us who are young and between child- and adult- hood) feels purposeless. The descending harmonies work like an emotional/existential crisis in motion. The album’s centerpiece and title track explores the sadness of not finding our place or purpose; the lonely Cat Stevens-ish waltz “Lorelai” dreads others finding no place for us as well (the line “I was old news to you then…” is the most devastating). Across the second half of the album Pecknold describes the glorious “terrible sunlight” and the night skies. But these remarks aren’t a folky obsession with nature as much as a dread of these uncheatable signs of the passing of time.

Luckily Fleet Foxes have found the next best thing to never getting old: never forgetting. They hold onto details, stretch moments to last forever. The way Robin describes his love in “Bedouin Dress” works well with the violins — the strings pulls at the song, help it linger long after it’s over. Tick-tocking clock rhythms on that song or the echo on “Grown Ocean” also stretch time. It makes every banal detail and sensation — washing “chalk” from dirty skin, running your hands through a dog’s fur, feel mystical, supernatural, important. Dynamic shifts do this as well: just listen to how “The Shrine / An Argument” travels from Pecknold alone, to harmonies, to a single thin guitar, to skronking angry saxophones. There are a lot of instruments and voices in these songs, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, it simply makes you and Pecknold feel less alone. A two-person harmony ends the album. But it’s comforting, that extra voice.

As you read in the Progress Report, this album was delayed by illness and touring; it weighted on the band and on Pecknold, as well. It took a while to get here. That you can feel the weight of that time inside Helplessness Blues is what makes it so good".

Helplessness Blues is out 5/3 via Sub Pop/Bella Union.... and, for this month "Mojo" magazine, an "Instant Classic" and five ***** solid stars.

Room Correction... a necessary nightmare to musical Heaven?

An alternative to (digital) GroundSound from Denmark, TacT from USA, Lyngdorf from Belgium?

... not using IIR or FIR filters technologies and EXTREMELY broad, yet someway complex features, like above mentioned ones, BUT...

Rives does it in analog-only domain...

Worth reading their point of view...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jean Hiraga: still enjoying audio and music...

While making order in the mess of pixes I have uncatalogued after "going Mac", I found - yesterday evening - a couple of shots my friend Shinichi took of Hiraga-san, during a live vs. reproduced recording, somewhere in Japan... and while inspecting a one-of-a-kind Goto's system, with "Morning Glory" horns.

Monsierur Hiraga's expression says MUCH more than one hundred words... he's childish, sincerely pleased while enjoying music and being in his ancestors Country, Japan, as well.

... unsurprisingly, he's in audio business since late '60s... decades of untiring listening, writing, measuring, travelling, enjoying meeting people and still WELL alive and kickin'...

A genuine, original Sensei-san.