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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Site of the Day - Riffstation, thanking Drone by Piers Faccini

... Piers is a personal fave of mine... and this site with play-it-along chording and parallel YouTube's video of his nice "Drone" is a cool, useful tool...


Marantz 7C is back...

Having some fine pieces of gears handy can be fun... giving a chance from time to time to a seldom heard in months preamp which served me loyally and flawlessly for many, many years has a one-of-a-kind fascination.

I undusted the faceplate and connected the old trusty Marantz 7C to the Lenco G88 and to the Meridian disk-player, feeding the Partridge 300B mono-blocks and Cabasse Dinghy 221.

The sound surprised me... after several years using Thomas Mayer 4-chassis preamp and passive preamps, the old 7C is very, very quick, slightly lesser on detailing, but owning a special strength, a dynamic drive which brings the 300Bs' romantic behaviour to another level of zestness and trueness.

Like having several shoes pairs makes you always perfectly fit for countryside, ceremony, work, leisure, sport or hiking... well, you cannot but enjoy the different approaches and the several aesthetics you can obtain with minimal, in-house gears-changes.

A very, very nice listen, today... Joel Grare was chez moi;-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Voices from the past

There is something which most amazes me when listening to music: its ability to bring me to another era, place, mood so easily!

Its interactions with memory - both personal and DNA-related - appears as mysterious as they can be.

Something similar possibly pushed the Lomaxes' to explore the whole planet searching for weird, seldom heard music, languages, dialects: from Pigmei to Inuit to Borneo and Amazonas rain forests people, from Native Americans to people from Sardinia, Italy.

Thirsty and hungry of the different, curious about the other, always.

I so much enjoy these gems from somewhere else like I'd "enjoy" reading a technical handbook - i.e. sure enjoying more a novel but needing the handbook thick tome, as well... and the result is like sipping from the tap water of humankind dawn and knowledge, a time-machine affaire.

I'm quite partial and fond of some very definite titles in my discotheque: a three records-set on Harmonia Mundi France by Renè Clemencic and his Ensemble devoted to Troubadours, their travels in Europe and Middle East, the contaminations of different world and cultures colliding (the Crusades...).

These marvellous, sought after discs were given to me by a late friend of mine who didn't like and knew I was searching for them since a long time...

Such a gift...

... not only music, original instruments and the like... but voice... voices from another era!

The tales and gestures of Peire Vidal sung by Renè Zosso with his natural, raw voice in Occitane, Burgundy, Provencal dialects are an experience I'd wish to share with everyone passioned enough!

It's not easy listening, for sure... yet, like with '50s b/w movies (Frank Capra, I. Bergman, Fellini come to my mind) they own their very own pace and character, a slow languid, languishing disease which sort-of slow down my wrist watch and feed my soul.


I recently found an Hungaroton disc by Kecskes and his Enselmble owning same character...

... and I'm again so grateful to the men who took their time, spending a life to search and preserve this heritage.

The usual question: is it only music?



It's culture, folks.

Our history... much worth sharing.

... for our future... as there is not future without knowing the past, while living the present.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Abbey Road's alternate version

Maybe in an alternate world...

Lokum G-88 and Siggwan 12" with Signet 7LCa

Done... after the work-in-progress, I just made it;-)

Sure I'm very, v e r y slow with my own business... yet, nonetheless, I finished the Goldring G-88 idler-wheel turntable with James Grant's Siggwan Cocobolo arm from New Zealand and... thanking my pal Eckart, a pristine Signet 7 LCa moving magnet cartridge I got a couple years ago, after reading a review about this marvellous cartridge, previously unknown to me.

I doped the slate and bronze arm pod with a tight couple kilos lead shot-balls to further improve vibes taming... the Siggwan 12" arm is a beauty and it deserves every effort on my part to make it singing at its best!

Slow, I told you... would add incredibly, painfully slow, as I got the Siggwan from New Zealand about two years ago and, for several reason (being incurably busy is the first reason it comes to my mind...) I only opened and briefly handled to appreciate the building quality and... nothing!

I simply stored it on a shelf...

... like a good red wine.

... and time came, at last.

I did all my homework in setting up the wooden arm and also if I was previously planning to mount a Leonid Sinitsin-restored Lumiere DST, I someway wished for something different - i.e. an MM cartridge to go straight into Thomas Mayer Tango LCR Western electric 437A phono stage and Thomas Mayer line stage with Cunningham CX 310... shining uber alles! or as an alternative to the latter, the Serge Schmidlin's Silver Rock TVA... superb resolution with this very combo.

... I choose a seldom seen Signet's.

Has been such a wise, coo, choice that, after listening to a couple of discs, I finished with an Hungaroton's disc I recently wrote about, Turkish music.

So sweet, so smooth and detailed... natural... sweet? Turkish?


The well kept secret candy found in Turkey and all Arabic Mediterranean area...

Thus the name... Lokum.

Lenco is dead, welcome to Lokum G-88.

Dedicated to who claims the best MM cart isn't comparable to an average MC, without having never, ever personally experienced any good (Grace F9E, Signet 7LCa... without quoting my beloved Decca SC4E;-))

This Signet is simply up to par to a good moving-coil!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Elbphilarmonie concert hall in Hamburg

The newly opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany is a visually stunning structure from a design perspective, with its gorgeous wave-shaped facade, curved elevators, and its seemingly endless stairs. However, the focal point of the $843 million building is its one of a kind central auditorium designed specifically for a balanced sound throughout the concert hall.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Analog machism

... when long isn't enough... never!

Arm is 1,5 m... 150 cm... 1,500 mm... with a cool Fairchild turntable.

Silbatone's collection...

... as per Jean Hiraga's pixies, as published in VuMeter magazine...

Thanking Jean Veys and LencoHeaven's brothers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What type of records collector are you?

Thanking Joe Long for the following short, entertaining essay...
You don’t need me to tell you that vinyl is back. It’s everywhere. From Wal Mart to tax commercials and everywhere between. Everyone that you know is getting a turntable. I mean everyone. Once you’re over that, it’s time to think about what kind of record collector you are. Are you only interested in getting all your favorites or do you plan to devote your whole basement to your new hobby? Here are some of the record collector types I’ve observed in my short time collecting.
The Lifer: Lifers never stopped collecting vinyl and have a section of their homes dedicated to what they’ve accumulated. Lifers are the most skilled crate diggers on earth, able to smell a rare copy of The White Album a mile away. They schedule their lives around garage sales, flea markets, and Craigslist ads. They know what just about everything is worth, which gives them a leg up when shopping. They’ll find that gem in their buddy’s Grandma’s basement for $2 and sell it for $200. They love music, but they love the hunt even more. I’m not a Lifer, but they are fascinating to watch in the wild.
The Obsessive: Obsessive record collectors own just about everything they can get their hands on. This type of collector not only has more albums than they know what to do with, they can’t pass up a re-issue of an album they already own. They can’t pass up anything actually, and restraint is NOT buying albums each and every day. An obsessive’s collection is about 20–30% items they’ve yet to even unwrap. I’m not an obsessive, but I’m influenced by them. I think to myself, “well at least I don’t own THAT much, I can justify these purchases”. I love obsessive collectors, but don’t want to be one.
The Completist: I’m a bit of a completist. I have a handful of artists that I “need” to own every item from their catalogue, and maybe even every side project or guest appearance as well. For me, this dates back to sports card collecting as a kid and the need to complete the set for a season or my favorite team. Yes, I do need every release from Wilco, including re-issues that only vary in the color of wax they’re printed on.

The Audiophile: You know this guy. He’s got the best system around, and only listens and buys the most pristine pressings of every album. He’s also obsessed with who pressed an album and if it was mastered digitally or analog. (I’m caring about this more and more.) He’s able to pinpoint who played on what album and will lecture you on why 180 gram albums are overrated. And he probably has a stack of 78s to boot. I sorta want to be this guy, but have no self restraint.
The Casual: This is the normal collector. They buy up a handful of favorites when they start collecting, and add 3–5 titles per year, some new, some old. This person is also probably the most sane of the bunch. I pretend to be this person several times a year, but can rarely pull it off. Boring!
The Limited Edition Collector: There was a time when I was attempting to run for president of this group. This group of collectors buy whatever is “limited to” or “hand numbered” or “pressed on cotton candy splattered, translucent, 200 gram vinyl”. (Some of you just got excited.) Like completists, there is no consideration given to the amount of copies already owned of an album, as long as it’s a version they don’t already have. This is a sickness I’m slowly recovering from.
The Nostalgist: Nostalgists are coming out of the woodwork right now. They are buying their first record player ever, or getting back in the game after riding the CD wave for decades. Nostalgists only buy the hits, or their favorite albums from the past. They don’t care about colored vinyl or numbered copies, they just want that copy of Rumors to toss on the table whenever they feel the need.
Chances are, if you’re a collector, you’re a hybrid of a few of these. And there are plenty of other categories you could create as well to add to this list. What type of record collector are you?

Monday, February 13, 2017

First Japan Triode Meeting - May 2017- The List

Here is the (almost) complete list of participants to 1st JTM in Fukuoka, on next May... so many friends I'll be super-happy to meet and gather with!

(names of partecipants removed for privacy reasons...)

Pretty sure it will be truly a one-of-a-kind event.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Deep Purple live in Europe & Japan on master-dub reel to reel!

Great add to my reel to reel collection...

Rockin' with my pal Arnaldo, yesterday afternoon: live in Tokyo "Strange Kind of Woman" is so, soooo... cinematic and worth the expense!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Posthumous Grammy Award to Alan Blumlein

The British inventor of stereo sound recording and many early broadcasting breakthroughs is being honoured with a posthumous Grammy award.

Well deserved!

Norman Blake - an interview

An iconic musician, a personal fave of mine and a true original...

Enjoy the interesting interview as I did... thanking Eric Schoenberg for suggesting.

Takatsuki TA-300B - the ultimate 300B triode?

Wonderful tube and manufacturer from Kyoto... I will visit their
workshop on next May...

Stay tuned.

Ralph Towner

RALPH TOWNER (1940) came to the jazz and contemporary music worlds in the late 1960s, developing his unique virtuosic style alongside other emerging musical artists such as John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, John Abercrombie, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Marc Copland. Audiences of the 1960s and 70s witnessed great changes in jazz genres and composed concert music from the diverse worlds of established uptown circles to newly emerging musical cultures of the downtown scene. Within the advent of new post-modern conceptual arts, multi-media, and rock music, modern jazz artists such as Towner found their fresh, eclectic voices in lower Manhattan and the New York loft scene. “Classic jazz” was still to be found in the small clubs while unique fusions of acoustic and electric musics began to fill auditoriums worldwide. The so-called “modern jazz” of the 1970s, in all of its manifestations, was alive and well—and at once popular and innovative—as artists drew from their exploratory paths begun in the 1960s.

'Not a jazz guitarist in any conventional sense, but an improviser of eloquence and imagination, nor strictly a classical guitarist, Ralph Towner is a category unto himself. originally a pianist, he has always sought to access on guitar the piano's harmonic potential…'

Maestro Towner in his very own words:

'As a guitarist who specialises in solo concerts of original compositions and improvisation, I often think of myself as a raconteur of the abstract. It's my contention that music unfolds to the listener as does a work of literature, only without the specific meanings of written or spoken words.
Each time I plant myself on stage before an audience, I proceed from the first sound to attempt to develop a musical continuity that will draw the listener into a world populated with a cast of sonic characters playing out an existence replete with all the emotions that could be suggested in a play or any work of literature.
Before a concert I choose from a list of pieces that I have composed, each of which has a unique quality that establishes a particular atmosphere that I can develop further with improvisation. I always begin with an improvised introduction to a composition, feeling out the sound of the room and the energy in the audience. An advantage of being an improvising soloist is that you are free to alter, or depart from, the form of a piece at any point if you sense that the 'story' needs a turn of events. In this respect, I consider myself as part of the audience, and if all is going well, I am swept along with everyone as to the shape and course the music takes.
Music, in my opinion, is a social art that combines the energies and contributions of multiple musicians and listeners. Being a soloist seems antithetical to this notion, but I feel the cultivation and imaginative use of a broad variety of musical colours and techniques invest the music with an orchestral aura that transcends the audience's perception that it is being produced by a single player. Once the music has begun, it ceases to be a matter of how many are playing and what instruments are being played, and becomes rather a passage into a world of infinite sounds that are completely personal to each listener. The less self-conscious the audience and performer become, the better the concert. The most drastic difference for the solo player is that at the conclusion of the concert, the pleasure of discussing the concert you just played with the other musicians in the group isn't possible. It is ironic that much of my sense of musical interaction in a solo piece has been cultivated by playing in group situations.
So far I haven't felt any loss of fascination for the art of music. The guitar, for me, has always been an instrument with a bottomless reservoir of musical colours and possibilities. It continues to be a passport into a wondrous realm, and I am grateful for this.'

Broadly speaking, in diverse acts of making music, innovation is no easy feat. It not only requires an innate talent, but also a devotion to the art that is irreducible to simple commercial exchange. Ralph Towner is such an innovator on the modern musical landscape: his ideas are ever fresh, even as his legacy spans a career of nearly fifty years. 

Best known as the lead composer, guitarist, and keyboardist for the acoustic jazz ensemble Oregon, Towner has also had a rich and varied solo career that has seen fruitful and memorable musical collaboration with such great modern musicians as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Egberto Gismonti, Larry Coryell, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Gary Peacock, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, Marc Copland, and Weather Report—the pivotal band of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. Regarded by many critics as the greatest living exponent of the classical guitar and also 12-string guitar in jazz, Towner has been in demand on the most prominent stages of London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Milan, New York, Buenos Aires, and beyond.

Towner was born in Chehalis, Washington, into a musical family—his mother was a piano teacher and his father was a trumpet player. He and his siblings were raised in a nurturing and empowering environment that encouraged free musical experimentation and expression. In 1958, Towner enrolled in the University of Oregon as an art major, later changing his major to composition. He soon thereafter met bassist Glen Moore, who would become a lifelong musical partner in the band Oregon.

It was about this time that Towner discovered the early records (LPs) of Bill Evans, whom Towner emulated and whose influence he began to incorporate into his own piano style and composition. Soon after, Towner bought a classical guitar, and in the early 1960s he traveled to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit. In 1968, Towner moved to New York City and immersed himself in the New York jazz scene. He eventually landed a position with the Paul Winter Consort where the friendships and musical partnering with Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott were forged, a musical chemistry that ultimately alchemized into the band Oregon. Paul Winter also gifted Towner his first 12-string guitar. Towner has since coaxed the 12-string into imbuing his work with such a characteristic uniqueness that most jazz fans—if given the two keywords "12-string" and "jazz"—may immediately recall Ralph Towner’s name.

Most instrumentalists in jazz play one standard “classical” form of an instrument, but jazz guitarists have tended to perform on either the acoustic “Maccaferri-styled” steel-string guitar made famous by jazz great Django Reinhardt, or more commonly the emerging archtop acoustic-electric guitar first played by the likes of Charlie Christian and those who followed. By the 1960’s, the modern electric solid body guitar became most commonly used. Towner instead chose the classical guitar as his primary instrument, an instrument largely associated with solo and chamber music repertoire.

Following the traditions of the classical guitar, he began to play in small chamber groups and as a soloist, albeit as an improviser. It could be said that in his formative years, Towner’s personal approach to playing the guitar was essentially the merging of an artistic ideal set by master classical guitarist Julian Bream, who influenced Towner greatly for his sound, approach to repertoire, and use of varied articulation. On the other side of Towner’s spectrum of pedagogy was the aforementioned pianist Bill Evans, the master jazz musician who was a great influence in the music and playing of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Jarrett and a generation of jazz pianists to follow.

Towner’s working relationship with producer Manfred Eicher of ECM Records began in 1972: their collaboration provided a forum for Towner’s growth as a leader and collaborator with other jazz giants, all while concomitantly breaking open musical frontiers with Oregon throughout the intervening years. ECM’s roster of low-volume acoustic acts were decidedly contrary to the amplified popular zeitgeist of the era, and provided Towner an opportunity to connect and create with some of the most iconoclastic and innovative artists in the 1970s. Towner’s early ECM years also saw his most minimalist, yet most bold, endeavor.

His album “Solo Concert,” released in 1980 on ECM, was conceptually elemental and essentially a solo live guitar recital. Yet no one to date had ever synthesized classical contrapuntal composition with improvisational and oddly-metered jazz like this before, especially in such a risky arena as a live performance. Like his contemporaries Jarrett and Corea, who also explored the format of the solo jazz concert and recording, Towner's engagement of a kind of musical cosmopolitanism of jazz and classical music aesthetic set the stage for a new musical approach, one where jazz improvisation met the complexities of harmony and counterpoint in the modernism of composed music. Such solo work would later become Towner’s signature on recordings such as "Ana" and "Anthem," or augmented by Gary Peacock’s bass on "Oracle" and "A Closer View."

Like a quintessential artist, however, experimentation with technology was simultaneously and paradoxically leading Towner away from this bare-bones approach to composition and performance. In 1983, he began to incorporate the Prophet 5 keyboard synthesizer into his compositions, both with Oregon and his ECM recordings, notably "Blue Sun." The Prophet 5 synthesizer afforded an entirely new dimension to Towner’s compositional palette, as well as to the brazen and quirky character of the "free-form" improvisatory pieces for which Oregon had become infamous. Yet sadly, in 1984, percussionist Collin Walcott and manager Jo Härting were killed in Germany in a collision involving the group’s tour bus. Towner and McCandless escaped serious injury in the back of the vehicle. The emotional scars were deep, and it at first seemed doubtful that Walcott’s critical contribution to Oregon’s musical tapestry could be replaced. However, two subsequent world-class percussionists, gifted with rhythmic virtuosity, would eventually join the group: Trilok Gurtu in 1992 and Mark Walker in 1997.
The critical commentary at the turn of the millennium was that Oregon’s musical vision had ostensibly arrived upon the release of "Oregon in Moscow," an orchestral double-CD recorded with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, earning the ensemble four Grammy nominations.

Towner’s celebrated 29th ECM Records release, “My Foolish Heart,” marks a historic point for both himself and for ECM, as Towner was one of the label's first artists. Within the generation of guitarists with whom Towner is most closely associated, his output and individuated musical approach - whether performing solo, duo, with the Solstice [winner of the prestigious Deutscher Schallplattenpreis] and Sounds and Shadows band of Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Jon Christensen, or with Oregon - has set him apart as one of the most widely respected and listenable composers and guitarists of artistic weight.

Friday, February 10, 2017

David Munrow

... as he is a personal fave of mine, I could write and write and write about him...

... but, being someway sadly lazy, I will not!

I'll choose instead another way to show his amazing skills... you'll judge by yourself.

On my part, I own and cherish every disc he made and the complete DVD of the six Granada TV broadcastings.

Here you'll find a superb extract.

Enjoy... gratefully remembering the deeply missed David Munrow.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ralph Towner's 12 strings weird tunings

Sharing, sharing, sharing...

... as I got from a former guitar player, I enjoyed over the years... now it's my chance to share with other hungry and passionate Ralph's scholars, as I am.

So, enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Salvatore Accardo's Stradivari

... well: I'm speechless... a violin is a violin is a violin, but... a Stradivari in Salvatore Accardo's hands is so vastly much more than a violin!

I today listened to a Rossini and Bottesini disc on Philips, recorded in 1972... members of I Musici chamber orchestra play double-bass, cello, violin with Bruno Canino on piano.

On side 2 there is an 8,45 minutes long piece by Rossini - i.e. "Un Mot a Paganini": Bruno Canino accompanies Salvatore Accardo playing his precious, superb, centuries honed instrument and...

... the music flows effortlessly and you hear The Violin, the Father of all Violins and the sound beautifully serves the music and viceversa.

Overtones, harmonics, a thick, strong voice, mature, complex yet so easy to the ears.

I own an old Brunswick disc, pressed by Decca, "The Glory of Cremona" where Ruggiero Ricci plays several sought after Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesù, Guadagnini and Amati's violins... a masterpiece.

The sound is also top class, so romantic, natural and smooth... yet, the above mentioned single track put to shame every previous solo violin recording I'm aware of: the Philips' recording is very Philips... detailed, airy, ambience is here but not exaggerated, something which must be digested after a recent diet of Decca and Lyritas'.

The Philips' aesthetic is simply wonderful if your system will be able to "understand" the difference between "detailed" and "cold" sound.

If you succeed, well... it's bliss!

On my part, I'll further investigate if other Saccardo/Canino's recordings from early '70s will be able to replicate the pure magic I experienced today.

On your part... well, go and find this very disc.

A tip: please listen first to "Un Mot a Paganini" on side 2.


Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water (with a Frank Zappa's related quote)

What? Frank Zappa?


Just read the here below text, folks...

The most famous riff/song in rock history is just the chronicle of a Swiss' mishap...

We all came out to Montreux
on the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn't have much time
Frank Zappa & the Mothers were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
burned the place to the ground

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky & Claude was running in and out,
pulling kids out of the ground
When it all was over,
we had to find another place
Swiss time was running out
It seemed that we would lose the race

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

We ended up at the Grand Hotel
It was empty, cold and bare
But with the “Rolling Truck Stones”
Thing just outside making our music there
With a few red lights an' a few old beds,
we made a place to sweat
No matter what we get out of this, I know...
I know we'll never forget

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Work in progress

Will be singing tomorrow...

Love this humble Lenco... no frills quality: with the Cocobolo Siggwan's it will be gorgeous.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wire gauge?


AWG chart

AWG #Diameter
0000 (4/0)0.460011.6840211.6000107.2193
000 (3/0)0.409610.4049167.806485.0288
00 (2/0)0.36489.2658133.076567.4309
0 (1/0)0.32498.2515105.534553.4751

Erotic furniture

... a truly marvellous piece of ebanistery and skilled workmanship... and a compendium of sex paraphernalia.