Sunday, May 21, 2017

New kickstarter: the old turntable on speaker portable package returns

Kickstarter has an eye-catching new project that's attracting funding, but it's not too late to get in. Here's the Seed is "an all-in-one, multifunction turntable system that integrates excellent sound quality, high output and wireless streaming, in one simple setup."


You might think that putting a turntable on top of a speaker is not ideal but don't worry, they've thought of this too and have an "exclusive tri-point suspension system" to ensure rumble-free operation. Why didn't I think of that? You know you want to find out more...and you can, including demonstration videos here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New reviews live on the 'Zine

I've been handling a few reviews recently and both now are published. The Charisma 103 cartridge, a mod'd Denon, proved to be a real treat for those who like it meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.  My new ref for $750 MC, I'm keeping one around.

The Valvet A4 monoblocks are a top contender for those who long for pure Class A amps in a manageably-sized product. Glorious sonics, gorgeous looks. Two very different niches of the specialist market but both are winners. I know, how boring right?  Just telling it like it is.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What HiFi's odd list of audiophile recordings


UK mag What HiFi? produced a list of recordings they recommend for audiophiles. Of the 50, I have less than 10, so I guess that tells you all you need to know about my tastes or credibility. Have to say, more than a few of these do not appeal and am not even sure they sound very good. Taste, as always, varies but one imagines there might at least be some standards we can agree on for sound quality?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mosaic Records plea

If you've ever bought a record or cd set from Mosaic, you know the love that goes into their work. It's clear that they are struggling to continue and it would be a major loss to jazz lovers if they fade away. Here's a note from them to subscribers which I am sharing here in the hope of encouraging folks who have interests to buy before it's too late. Go to http://www.mosaicrecords.com/ and get an education.


Dear Mosaic Friend,
In this time and place, the Mosaic business model is becoming harder and harder to sustain in this rapidly changing world. We aren't sure what the future will hold for us, but we want to let all of you know how much we appreciate that your support has allowed us to constantly make our dreams come true with set after set and that we intend to persevere. The way we operate may change but our mandate remains steadfast.

Charlie Lourie and I started Mosaic Records in 1982 and our first releases were in 1983. The company was almost an afterthought. The idea of definitive boxed sets of complete recordings by jazz masters at a crucial time in their careers was a small part of a proposal that we made to Capitol Records in 1982 to relaunch the Blue Note label. Even before Capitol turned us down, it occurred to me one night that the release of these boxed sets could be a business unto itself if we made them deluxe, hand-numbered limited editions sold directly to the public.

Our first release was The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk, which came about because I'd found about 25 minutes of excellent unissued Monk on Blue Note. It was too short for an album and I was obsessed with how to get this music released. . It then dawned on me that all of this important material needed to be retransferred and assembled in chronological order as a significant historic document.  I solved my problem of releasing those 25 minutes of Monk music and Mosaic Records was born. We had a wonderful run of projects. The Tina Brooks, Herbie Nichols, Serge Chaloff,  Count Basie and Nat Cole sets were among those that were especially near and dear to our hearts.

Charlie was my best friend and working together was a joy. Mosaic was slow getting started and it took a few years before we could even draw a meager salary. I remember during those lean years worrying if we could afford to put out a Tina Brooks set. Charlie looked at me in amazement. "Isn't that why we started this thing - to do what's important without anyone telling us no?!" He only had to say it once.

In 1989, we moved out of Charlie's basement and into our own facility. Scott Wenzel joined us in 1987. We added employees as the business grew. We started issuing sets on CD as well as LP and eventually had our own website. We lost Charlie to scleroderma on December 31, 2000. We managed to keep the tone and spirit of the company up to the level that Charlie created and continued to put out thoroughly researched vital sets of importance in jazz history. But in the early 2000s, the record business began to shrink and morph for a variety of reasons and we were forced to downsize our staff, move to smaller quarters and reduce the flow of sets. 

We've always tried to be diligent about warning you when sets were running low so you wouldn't miss out on titles that you wanted. But at this point, some sets which are temporarily out of stock may not be pressed again. We are not certain  how Mosaic Records will continue going forward or how many more sets we will be able to create and release. We've got a lot of great plans but few resources. Scott and I want to thank every single person who has supported us, made suggestions, given advice and shown us such love and affection. If you are thinking about acquiring a certain set, now's the time.
-     - Michael Cuscuna