Dennis Davis Introduces Valhalla 2 in The Audio Beat

Picture 1484Earlier this year The Audio Beat published Dennis Davis’ review entitled, First Sounds: Nordost Valhalla 2 – What Nordost’s Valhalla 2 means for the existing Valhalla owner. The article is Dennis’ firsthand account of upgrading the reference cables in his system from Nordost’s Valhalla to Valhalla 2. We find this piece to be a fantastic introduction to V2. It’s great to see the reaction our products receive, and to get such positive feedback on all of the hard work and time that went into perfecting our Valhalla 2 cables, Nordost’s most recent reference range.

 

“My immediate reaction was that I was hearing an advance in the overall integration and musical geometry unmatched by any other upgrade I’ve heard in my system. Ever.”   - Dennis Davis, The Audio Beat

 

To read Dennis’ full review click here.

 

Roy Haynes at Scullers Jazz Club

At Nordost, first and foremost, we are all music lovers. Seeing a great live performance can be one of the most rewarding and affective experiences. In the end, this is what drives us to manufacture products that create the truest reproduction of sound possible. Nelson Brill, a friend of ours, recently visited one of our local haunts, Sculler’s Jazz club, to see drum master Roy Haynes play. We loved reading Nelson’s account of the performance, and thought we would share it with you.

 

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH – ROY HAYNES AT SCULLERS JAZZ CLUB

By Nelson Brill

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The 88-year old maestro, Roy Haynes, took the bandstand at a packed Scullers Jazz Club in Cambridge, MA. clad in a dapper green and white paisley vest floating over a bright orange shirt with a black tie. His smile lit up his face and spanned from one dimple to another. Everyone in the audience stood to applaud Haynes even before he took out his sticks to test his surroundings. Like a surgeon carefully evaluating his patient, Haynes surveyed his drum kit: tightening a snare surface here; adjusting a high hat there. As he did this, he chatted about growing up in Boston and how he disobeyed his mother’s directive to “not play that jazz on Sundays.” But Sundays were THE day of the week when the guys would get together to jam in the local haunts and Haynes would always sneak away from home to these jam sessions to listen and take it all in.

Following this little confession (accompanied by a sly grin), Haynes flicked his supple wrist and flung a huge cymbal crash into the room to commence the proceedings. First up was Sonny Rollins’ “Grand Street,” a tune that is also the opening rollicking cut to Haynes and his Fountain of Youth Band’s latest release, Roy-alty  [on Dreyfus Jazz]. At Scullers, the full compliment of the Fountain of Youth Band was present, including Jaleel Shaw on sax, David Wong on bass and Martin Bejerano on piano. From their very first notes, these gifted musicians exhibited a special kinetic connection to Haynes, who, as their band leader, directed their locomotion with a bright, shining presence. “Grand Street,” was a spirited opener, where Haynes’ percussive energy propelled Shaw and Berjerano in their brawny solos. In Berjerano’s case, as he delivered a bevy of crisp piano runs in an extended solo, Haynes threw him a curve ball: Haynes hit a huge bass drum blast amidst his softly churning snare. This sudden eruption sent Berjerano in a new direction as he blasted a thunderous roll with his left hand into his piano’s deepest registers. Like a sailboat making a quick turnabout (to catch a new breeze of inspiration), Berjerano followed this percussive course set (on the fly) by the infectious Haynes.

Listening to the band’s recorded version of “Grand Street” on Roy-alty brings other rewards as guest trumpeter Roy Hargrove rides Haynes’ big strokes of snare and cymbal with a punctuated effervescence that climbs steadily into the highest registers of his instrument. Here, “Grand Street” is all sparkling celebration with fireworks galore from Hargrove’s piercing reaches, Shaw’s muscular sax twists and Haynes’ light, (yet always punctual), percussion.

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Another highlight from the Scullers concert was the band’s take on “These Foolish Things,” a buoyant ballad that also appears on Roy-alty. On this number, Haynes displayed his mastery of his brushes: soft as a summer rain but also with a special articulation to each swipe and caress on either tom or snare. How Haynes achieves this combination of soft yet punctual with his simple brushing motions is part of the Haynes’ magic. At one point, (while Wong delved deep into resonant bass plucks), Haynes used his brushes on both the outer edges and inner center of his cymbals. This created an eerie decaying sheen of metallic mist that suffused the bassist’s woody notes. On Roy-alty, this same ballad is a showcase for Hargrove and Haynes to display their beautiful synergy together as Hargrove’s trumpet softly pierces and flits in and around the circular motion of Haynes’ delicate brushes.

Those distinct swipes of brushes can turn into a maelstrom of shimmering energy once Haynes turns his attention to his mallet set. During one of his extended solos at the Scullers concert, Haynes put on a mallet clinic: using every surface of his toms with ferocious energy to create a volcanic thunder with the heads of his mallets or gently tapping his high-hat with the end of the mallet stick to create a distinct ring of metallic energy. On Roy-alty, such radiant inventiveness is heard on Haynes’ solos taken at the conclusion of the band’s version of Miles Davis’ “Milestones,” (where Haynes duels with Wong’s bass in a dazzling display of ricochet stick work upon shifting drum surfaces) and on “Tin Tin Deo”, (where Haynes’ percussion erupts on a buoyant rumba that propels great solos from Hargrove, Shaw and Berjerano. “Tin Tin Deo” also features conga player Roberto Quintero who resonantly calls to Haynes from a distant off-stage position with his congas while Haynes unleashes a barrage of percussion.

One final (and lasting) impression taken from the excellent Scullers show was how Haynes and his Fountain of Youth Band were clearly sharing a special synergy and how Haynes remains a master listener. No matter what the percussive line and no matter how spontaneous, Haynes always seemed to be thinking ahead to create a wholeness, an intelligible melodic direction, to whatever he played. Similarly, on Roy-alty, you get this sense of Haynes’ great gift for listening to his band mates and creating a melodic structure to each of his drum creations. This is particularly apparent when Haynes performs in a stripped-down duet format with pianist Chick Correa on two cuts. Although these duets are less successful than others on the album, (in that they are a bit impenetrable in form and somewhat less dynamic in musical flow), they still reward in how Haynes weaves a beautiful interaction with his duet partner. Corea’s loquacious wit on piano is echoed by Haynes’ mellifluous pitter patter on his snare. Similarly, Corea’s deep purple chords are reflected and refracted by Hayes’ soft bass drum hits.

The recording makes all of this telepathic communication between Haynes and his compatriots on Roy-alty easy to follow. It delivers an upfront perspective on the musical action; good dynamic headroom and lends a crispness to instruments and image dimensionality that makes it easy to follow Haynes’ magnetic presence on his drum kit. The Fountain of Youth certainly continues to flow forth for the ebullient 88- year old Maestro. Catch him and his Fountain of Youth Band while you can- even on a Sunday!

 
 

Like us, Nelson Brill is an avid music lover who brings an audiophile perspective and a passion for the Arts to his reviews of live and recorded music. He has reviewed concerts and recordings (spanning all musical styles) for several online publications, including The Stereo Times and Harry Pearson’s HPSoundings. He has also been a contributing reviewer for several other publications, including JAZZIZ magazine. If you would like to read reviews like this one on Roy Haynes, visit his new blog at www.bostonconcertreviews.com.

 

American Made Audio Cables – Innovation and Commitment

Nordost Building

By Joe Reynolds

Nordost is an internationally recognized brand. We conduct business in over 60 countries around the world. But what I really take pride in, is the fact that since its inception in 1991, Nordost’s products have been designed, manufactured and assembled exclusively in the United States.

The New England area has a long tradition of manufacturing and innovation, and when it comes to research and development this region is renowned. Distinguished universities and state-of-the-art research facilities attract some of the best and brightest designers and engineers from around the world. I am confident that this company was truly shaped by the environment in which it was created. With such a wealth of resources in our own backyard, we have been able to build our reputation on innovative products and meticulous attention to detail and nuance throughout the production process.

From our unique process of precision FEP extrusion, to Micro Mono-Filament and Dual Mono-Filament technologies, to breakthroughs in vibration control and finally to creating our own patent pending connector– the new HOLO:PLUG, all of Nordost’s processes, technologies and products are developed and constructed right here in Massachusetts.

We are committed to making all of our products in the US for many reasons. Nordost has a wonderful network of local partners who can deliver merchandise such as packaging and machined parts quickly and efficiently. We can control our quality more scrupulously because it is produced nearby.  We design all of our products in-house so that new models can be built and tweaked at a moment’s notice with our internal engineering team. But mostly, Nordost has a solid, dependable workforce that takes pride in the products they create, and we feel that as a privately held company we have a social responsibility to our local community and our employees that support us. Not only does this mean creating a pleasant working environment for our staff, but it also means making the decision to stay local even if the alternative may seem more cost effective.

In my opinion, a reason for the decline in manufacturing in North America is a rampant spread of short term thinking. Some publically traded companies are so preoccupied in their stock prices at the end of every quarter that they are forced to make rash decisions. While these decisions, such as outsourcing, may help the bottom line, they ultimately hurt their workforce as well as their local economy. Nordost is faced with the same decisions as these larger companies. Of course, we could source our cables (such as our HDMI cables) in Asia; however, we see the benefits of staying in America. Making our own cables means that we develop valuable knowledge and skills within our own company. As a result of this knowledge, we can produce high quality products today and will be able to continue to expand and push boundaries in the consumer electronics market in the future.

Introducing the QK1!

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The QKOIL is a load resonating coil (LRC) which generates a passive electronic field that provides a vital solution to the issues of AC quality in audio/video performance. The QK1 uses Nordost’s proprietary Micro Mono-Filament technology in a loading application to prevent time delay and distortion of the transmitted signal, making the AC current as close as possible to the desired “distortionless condition”. In addtion to improving the overtones and pacing of music, the QKOIL opens up midrange frequencies and improves the attack of transient details in the music. Visually, the QK1 increases clarity of imaging by adding depth and focus.

The QK1 is housed in a mechanically tuned carbon-fiber body and equipped with either a US (NEMA) or EU (Schuko) connector. It is compatible with voltages from 110V to 240V, and can be used with an AUS or UK adaptor if required. The QKOIL is now available at select Nordost dealers, worldwide. To find the Nordost dealer nearest you, visit the “Where to Buy” page on www.nordost.com.

Like all QRT products, the benefits are cumulative and the QK1s are even more impressive when applied collectively. It can be used as a “stand alone” product or to complement a full QRT system with a QBASE, QX2, QX4 and especially the QV2. Plug the QKOIL into any spare socket on your system’s AC line and experience first-hand the surprising yet indisputable effect it will have on your A/V components.

QKOIL: QK1

 

Origin of the name: TYR

Origin-of-the-name-tyr

Tyr, the bravest of all gods, is called the ancient god of war and is the lawgiver of the gods. Men ready for war invoke Tyr since he has power over victory in battle. In fact, due to his courage, tenacity and knowledge, the people who share these attributes are known as “Tyr-wise” and “Tyr-valiant”. In a display of his fearlessness, Tyr offered to stick his hand in the mouth of the great wolf, Fenrir, in order to show the wolf that the gods would set him free. When Fenrir saw he would never be set loose, he bit off Tyr’s hand. This is why Tyr is usually depicted as a one-handed god.

Tyr 2 Loudspeaker Cable

Tyr 2 Interconnect

 

 

 

Nordost Playlist – April 2014

Nordost is lucky to have a wonderful team of representatives and product trainers who travel around the world educating and demonstrating the effects of Nordost’s products. As part of these demonstrations, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort system and accessories. Whether at shows, visiting our dealers and distributors or even in our own listening room in our headquarters in Holliston, we are constantly getting asked what music we are playing (or if our audience is not so bold to ask, we can see their Shazams working overtime). So we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share our favorite songs of the moment. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but one thing is for sure …it’s all great music.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this April.

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  1. Swing Low – Bobby McFerrin, Esperanza Spalding – spirityouall
  2. Chegada — Naná Vasconcelos — Chegada
  3. Dream On — Depeche Mode — Exciter
  4. human — Christina Perri — human
  5. Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg-Prelude — Iván Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra — Wagner
  6. Digital Witness — St. Vincent — Self titled
  7. Loved Me Back to Life — Céline Dion — Loved Me Back to Life
  8. Bonnie and Clyde — Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg — Initials BB
  9. Nightcall — London Grammar — If You Wait
  10. 3 Intermezzos, Op.117:No. 1 in E-Flat Major — Johannes Brahms, Géza Anda — Géza Anda plays Bartók & Tchaikovsky

What songs have made it onto your playlist this month?