When the stars align, the intersection between art and commerce can benefit both artist and audience, but the meeting is never anything but unpredictable. Sometimes, the two forces collide with terrible results.
Everybody Digs Bill Evans—the name of a recording released in 1959—seems like little more than a hip album title until you reflect on the broad admiration the late jazz pianist engendered in most of the people who encountered his playing. Even in the atypically aggressive performances toward the end of his life, listeners could hear his sensitivity and heart, to say nothing of his deft touch and ability to find original ways of phrasing—even with a hoary chestnut like “Danny Boy.” So outsized is his influence it’s actually possible to make the case that Evans played a disproportionate role in making Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue the album that many people—including those who generally dislike improvised music—cite as their favorite jazz recording.
Thanks to a spate of influential recording sessions, 2021 is a landmark year for albums marking their 50th anniversary. From the Allman Brothers Band’s At Fillmore East to The Who’s Who’s Next, 1971 saw the release of more exceptional rock or rock-related albums than perhaps any other single year, with the possible exception of 1967.
Dear Audiophile: If you’ve slid over here from SoundStage! Hi-Fi or even SoundStage! Ultra, welcome. But, listen, perhaps you should skip ahead a couple of paragraphs; I’m going to reveal something sacrilegious.
Unexpected Notes: Exploring Tonal Variations with the Clarus Cable Coda USB DAC with Headphone Amplifier
Everyone has songs in their memory bank they can call forth at will—tunes that relate to special moments, or just pieces they’ve heard so often they can hum them note for note.
In opera, musical theater, the blues, country music, and, of course, in pop music, the human voice is an essential instrument. The skilled application of breath, glottal manipulation, timbre, tone, and other singing techniques can touch our hearts, draw a tear, raise a smile. It’s straight from human throat to human ear; there is no more elemental communication.
Boosting the Grooves—"American Beauty" Blossoms Anew by Tweaking My Phono Signal with NAD and AudioQuest
As a professional writer, I’ve spent a lot of my life interviewing electrical engineers about technology and then communicating how things work to lay audiences. From the basics of sending voices down copper lines to cloud storage for data, I like to think I’ve done a good job of explaining technology. And while I could do the same with the way physical vibrations are generated on a record and transformed into sound, there’s a black magic to that particular feat of engineering that always makes me shake my head in wonder.
Oh, the hi-fi equipment and music I have known.