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Stereophile May 2021

Every month Stereophile magazine offers authoritative reviews, informed recommendations, helpful advice, and controversial opinions, all stemming from the revolutionary idea that audio components should be judged on how they reproduce music.

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United States
AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
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12 Edities

in deze editie

13 min
melt the frame

IN HER REWORKING OF THE BEATLES’ “WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS,” ON THE 2018 TRIBUTE ALBUM, A DAY IN THE LIFE: IMPRESSIONS OF PEPPER (IMPULSE RECORDS), BROOKLYN GUITARIST AND COMPOSER MARY HALVORSON REINVENTS BOTH HER INSTRUMENT AND THE SONG. Most baby boomers can hum the tune of the Beatles’ classic, from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in a handful of notes. It might take longer to recognize Halvorson’s joyous, angular version. A master of jazz phrasing, guitar technique, avant-garde discourse, and effects pedals, Halvorson bends the Beatles song to her 21st century will. Playing her large-body Guild Artist Award archtop guitar through a Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler pedal and a Fender Princeton Reverb amplifier1 — the guitar strings and body and the amplifier are both miked and then…

20 min
industry update

US: SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS, AND WORLDWIDE Jason Victor Serinus Due to concerns over COVID-19 transmission, two U.S. audio shows have revised their dates for 2021. AXPONA has shifted (again) from August 27–29 to October 29–31, and the small New York Audio Show has moved from June 25–26 to December 3–4 in New York City. AXPONA’s announcement was distributed March 3 to the “AXPONA Community” by Event Director Liz Miller Smith and VP Sales Mark Freed. Reached by phone and email, Miller Smith told Stereophile, “When offered these dates, we had to make a very quick decision and we chose the option that did not overlap with any other audio shows.” Exhibiting companies, the announcement read, do not need to take any action. The date change makes for an astoundingly tight lineup: six shows in three…

4 min

SARAH VAUGHAN Sarah Vaughan Vaughan, vocals; Clifford Brown, trumpet; Paul Quinichette, tenor sax; Herbie Mann, flute; Jimmy Jones, piano; Joe Benjamin, bass; Roy Haynes, drums. EmArcy/Universal/AcousticSounds (LP). Chad Kassem, reissue supervisor; Ryan Smith, remastering. Sarah Vaughan was the supreme jazz singer. Smoky lows, silky highs, precise articulation across five octaves, a keen connection with a lyric, boundless harmonic inventiveness, and a sense of swing, which swayed and simmered, front and center, always. Later, Vaughan barely hid her boredom when stuck with material that didn’t suit her, but at her peaks, with small ensembles, she was, and remains, matchless. This eponymous album, recorded in December 1954 when Vaughan was just 30, ranks among her classics—and thus among the classics of jazz vocal albums. Midtempo standards (“Lullaby of Birdland,” “April in Paris,” “Embraceable You”); a top-notch…

4 min
book review

I never met Audio Research Corporation founder William Zane Johnson, who died in 2011. But when he founded his now-legendary company in 1970, I and my ragged troupe of Dynaco modifiers were in the trenches, fighting the sand-warrior hordes during the first transistor onslaught. Our battle was almost lost when that shiny new warrior appeared on the north ridge. He, too, brandished a modified Stereo 70. He hailed from Minnesota, a land of extreme cold, walleye fishing, and northern lights. His company’s flag displayed a glowing vacuum tube, under which the words “High Definition” were inscribed. I felt certain he was fighting a lost cause—that we all were. I was wrong—and here we are today, celebrating William “Bill” Johnson’s achievements and the 50th anniversary of his company with a super-deluxe LP-sized hardcover…

5 min

‘Thank you’ from a mastering master I’m writing to thank Stereophile Editor Jim Austin for believing in Thomas Conrad’s idea to write the feature article, Afterlife of a Jazz Label (March 2021), about Reservoir Music, its founder Mark Feldman, and the small group of us who recorded and mastered its albums. Thank you, also, to Tom Conrad for writing the engaging musical story of how Reservoir came to exist. I believe you got it all: the commitment and honesty of producer Mark Feldman and the technical and creative spirit we engineers brought to each project. Allan Tucker Monterrey, Mexico Allan Tucker has recorded, mastered, and remastered more than 3500 albums, from Louis Armstrong to John Zorn. Realistic and faithful I usually do not turn to your fine publication for humor, but Michael Fremer’s Analog Corner in your…

5 min

VARIOUS ARTISTS Nuggets, Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 Rhino R1 2006/081227971113 (2LP). 2021. Lenny Kaye, prod.; Chris Belman, reissue eng. Nostalgia for the 1970s is a cultural thing right now, and the original Nuggets anthology, released in 1972, stands as a lasting testament to that decade’s spirit of exploration, rebellion, and honest cheesiness. At the request of Elektra Records President Jac Holzman, Lenny Kaye, a young music writer and record store clerk (later the guitarist in the Patti Smith Group), assembled two LPs of forgotten one-hit wonders from mid-’60s psychedelic rock. The collection was, in spirit, a descendant of Robert Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. The music has been called “garage rock” even though many of the tunes were recorded in major studios and some were released on major labels. Musically,…