Introducing the Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable

Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable_Straight_blogNordost is happy to announce the expansion of our acclaimed Blue Heaven Range with the introduction of the Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable. The Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable makes it possible for music lovers to completely integrate subwoofers with their loudspeakers, creating a truly well-rounded experience, highlighting even the lowest frequency extensions on the spectrum.

The Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable consists of four, 22 AWG, solid core, silver-plated, 99.9999% OFC signal conductors. Its dielectric strength is improved by an innovative precision FEP extrusion process, which further increases signal speeds and accuracy in signal transfer. The conductors are then covered in a braided shield, addressing any EMI and RFI. Additionally, the Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable utilizes a unique flat, parallel construction.

In order to accommodate all its possible uses, the Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable is offered in three configurations: Straight, Y, and Y-to-Y. All three configurations are available terminated with specially designed, gold-plated MoonGlo RCA or XLR connectors.

Designed, manufactured, and hand-terminated entirely in the USA, the Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable guarantees the accurate construction required to produce integrated low level frequencies, while preserving the precision and speed necessary to enjoy well rounded, seamless, and all-encompassing sound from music, movies, and television.

The Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable is now available for purchase at select Nordost dealers, worldwide. To find the Nordost dealer nearest you, visit our “Where to Buy” page.

Blue Heaven Subwoofer Cable_Ys blog


Nordost will be back at the Montréal Audio Fest!


Come and see Nordost at the Salon Audio, Montréal Audio Fest! Please join us, March 23rd – 25th, in Montreal at the Hôtel Hilton Bonaventure. Throughout the show, our sales representatives and product specialists, Bruno de Lorimier and Michael Taylor, will be performing live demonstrations and product comparisons, available in both French and English, in Salon St-Michel. The Montréal Audio Fest is a perfect opportunity to hear the effect that quality cables can have on a hifi system, and to determine how the caliber of performance is improved as enhancements are made to cable design. While there, come and visit us at our sales booth, where you can take advantage of our special show prices on select products! Admission is free to the public, so we hope to see you there!

Questions and Answers (February 2018)

Our product specialists receive questions on a daily basis about Nordost products, their application, and hifi in general.  We thought that we would take a minute to share some of our most recent and frequently asked questions here so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!

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Q: I recently bought a pair of Nordost interconnects, and I noticed arrows on the heat-shrink. Is there are reason that these cables are directional? If so, which way should I install them?

A: Typically, when cables are manufactured they do not have any directionality—they acquire directionality as they break in. However, Nordost single ended (RCA) interconnects are built as directional cables, since the shield is only connected at the source, or output, end. When installing the cables into your system, the arrows should always point away from the source. For example, from a CD player to an amplifier, the arrows should point towards the preamplifier or power amplifier.

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Q: My new Apple laptop only has USB C inputs.  Do you make a USB C to USB B, to connect to my DAC?

A: Nordost has just released two new USB cables with C connectors for this very reason: the Red Dawn USB Cable and the Frey 2 USB Cable (the Frey 2 cable can even come terminated with USB 3.0 connectors).  If you already have a hifi audio USB cable with a type-A USB connector and aren’t ready to upgrade to a new cable , we now offer the Frey 2 USB C adapter.

Screen-Shot-2017-07-25-at-1.15.19-PMQ: Are Nordost speaker cables available in a bi-wire configuration (ie. 2 banana connectors at the source end and 4 at the speaker end)?

A: No, they are not.  When the Norse 2 series was developed, we decided to do away with bi-wired cabling. When you bi-wire a pair of speakers, you cause a frequency phase shift (especially in the mid and upper frequencies).  The better way to go about it is to use bi-wire jumpers, or to opt for a bi-amp set-up.

Sort Systems

Q: After buying and liking the result of the Sort Füt for my speakers, I was thinking about buying another set for my audio rack, but I’m worried that with the weight of the rack, plus the weight of the components, it will be too heavy for the Sort Füt to hold. How much weight can a set of Sort Füt support?

A: One Sort Füt will support 200 lbs or 90.9 kilos per piece. This means that the four Sort Füt units you would use for your audio rack could handle a total weight of 800 lbs or 363 kilos.


Introducing the Frey 2 USB Cable and Frey 2 USB C Adapter

Nordost is proud to introduce the new Frey 2 USB Cable and Frey 2 USB C Adapter. The Frey 2 USB Cable is the first of Nordost’s USB offerings to provide both USB C and 3.0 compatibility. The Frey 2 USB C Adapter pairs with cables using Standard-A USB connectors (both 2.0 and 3.0 compatible), allowing them to be used with components that require a USB C termination. Both of these exciting products allow customers to continue to enjoy the benefits of Nordost as they upgrade their components. Nordost’s Frey 2 USB Cable and C Adapter are the perfect solutions for hifi audio enthusiasts integrating computer audio into their sound systems when using components that require USB C connectors, whether they are interested in a new, upgraded USB cable, or would rather extend the life of a previous investment.

lg-Frey 2-USB Cable

The Frey 2 USB Cable uses solid core, silver-plated 99.99999% OFC signal conductors. Implementing a solid core design is essential when working with a cable of this caliber, completely eliminating the negative effects of strand interaction and skin effect. Each conductor is precision wound to correspond accurately with USB’s unique, hybrid twisted pair/non twisted pair geometry. The new Frey 2 cable utilizes Nordost’s proprietary FEP Micro Mono-Filament technology, which lowers the capacitance of the cable, both increasing signal speed and bandwidth. The conductors are shielded with a dual layer of braid and foil shielding in order to eliminate EMI and RFI and even comply with 3.0 standards. Finally, before being terminated with C to Standard B (2.0), Standard B (3.0), or Micro B (3.0) plugs, the Frey 2 USB is cut to mechanically tuned lengths, which reduce internal microphonics and high-frequency impedance resonance.

lg-Frey 2-USB C Adapter

The Frey 2 USB C Adapter utilizes the exact same cable construction as the Frey 2 USB Cable. From conductors to Micro Mono-Filament technology, shielding to mechanically tuned lengths, the Frey 2 USB C Adapter has all the makings of a high quality, hifi USB cable, creating an extension of your existing USB cable to ensure an identical sonic signature and performance level throughout your system. Terminated with a male USB C connector on one end, and a female Standard-A connector (both 2.0 and 3.0 compatible) on the other, the Frey 2 USB C Adapter will extend the life of your current USB cables while maintaining the hi-fidelity performance of your home sound system. Designed, manufactured, and hand-terminated entirely in the USA, both the Frey 2 USB Cable and Frey 2 USB C Adapter guarantee the accurate construction required to produce the best possible performance from computer audio equipment.

The Frey 2 USB Cable is available in lengths from 0.6 Meters to 2 Meters while the Frey 2 USB C Adapter is 17cm. Both the Frey 2 USB Cable and C Adapter will be available for purchase at select Nordost dealers, worldwide. To find the Nordost dealer nearest you, visit the “Where to Buy” page on

A Rooftop FM Antenna and a Hopping Mad Mom

By Steve Greene

What’s the worst thing in your parents’ mind that you did as a teenager?  Wrecked the family car shortly after getting your driver’s license?  Got your girlfriend pregnant?  Maybe you threw a big, noisy and messy party at their home while they were away?  Well, my teen transgression was much nerdier, but it did have the benefit of teaching me some important lessons: wires make a difference, and grounding is important.

What could I possibly have done, you ask?  Well, my parents, who rarely ever left town without us kids, decided to finally take a long weekend away from us.  They took advantage of a weekend special of dancing, dining, and lodging at a hotel about 100 miles away.  After all, they thought, I was at home from college and my sister had just turned twenty-one, so surely we could look after my twelve-year-old brother.  What could go wrong?  We were trustworthy kids.  I had recently purchased my first quality stereo component, a Pioneer QX-8000 quadraphonic receiver, which I was obsessed with. So when I came home from college I’d be sure to hang around at home with my stereo, watching my brother, and staying out of any trouble.  What they didn’t know was that I was bothered by a bit of multipath distortion on my favorite FM station: Georgetown’s WHFS, home of very popular DJs Surf and the Weasel.  I loved that station and the progressive and psychedelic rock they played!

I had started receiving and collecting both Lafayette Radio and Allied Electronics around age eleven.  I’d pour through them from cover to cover every year, numerous times, dreaming about what electronic gear might lie in my future. It was early Saturday morning, and I had a hunch that I knew what might solve my multipath distortion problem. I had recently read an article in High Fidelity Magazine about a dealer in upstate New York who had installed an FM antenna on a customer’s roof.  The article was quite detailed explaining how to safely mount a mast and antenna securely, as well as the importance of grounding the antenna. So I headed to Lafayette, with their latest catalog in hand, in order to check out their FM antennas and accessories.

My bedroom system 1975 -Pioneer QX-8000 and Alliance rotator box

I had a plan. My bedroom was on the corner of the first floor of our house, and my Dad had a nice, sturdy ladder. I was going to drill a hole through the side of the house in order to bring the twin lead to my QX-8000 in the bedroom. I knew the 6-element Finco FM-4G was $17.15, while the 10-element Lafayette FM “double driven” model (with a whopping 10–foot boom) was just $11.95.  Plus, I’d need about 50 feet of 300 ohm twin lead at $2.29, a five foot antenna mast at $1.49, heavy duty 4” wall brackets at $4.78, several wood screw insulators to hold the twin lead where it would run down the wall from the roof, a lightning arrestor, and a ground rod and ground wire for another $9. Then, the piece de resistance, I would need a plastic tube about 3/4 inch in diameter and about 13 inches long for $1.19. As I totaled up my expenditure in my head, I realized I was going to have more change left over from the $50 I had burning in my pocket (part time jobs really pay off) if I bought the bigger, but cheaper, Lafayette antenna instead of the Finco!  The total would be about $35 plus my labor (yes, I’m referencing the 1973 Lafayette catalog, that I still have, to confirm these prices!).  I paid the cashier, loaded up my goodies in my hand-me-down Corvair, and headed back home.

While the installation took me way longer than I expected (about four hours) the FM antenna was finally installed.  I had completed the job safely, only teetering on the roof once during a sudden gust of wind, but the sturdy mast saved me when I grabbed hold of it!  I also realized that I had to shove some gunk into the tube entering the house, so that it wouldn’t be a direct path for insects.  Wadded up bubblegum seemed do the trick…but I later changed that to insulating foam.  The Pioneer QX-8000 sounded great on FM, although I was surprised that the signal strength meter didn’t show much of a jump in gain.  However, since the multipath was highly reduced on WHFS, I was pleased over all.

I could hardly wait to show my parents my big accomplishment when they returned home Sunday afternoon!  I didn’t have to tell them, though.  When they pulled up in the driveway my mother instantly saw the antenna and shrieked, with hands to her face, “oh my God, Bob (sounded like “Bawb” with her New England accent), he’s ruined the looks of our house!”  No amount explaining how much better my FM reception sounded could calm my mother down.  You’d have thought I’d painted the house orange (which “Bawb” later did, although it was supposed to be “Harvest Gold”…but that’s another story).  I could tell my father was slightly amused and, I hoped, impressed enough with my newfound antenna installation skills that he could stave off the punishment my mother was demanding in exchange for her loss of curb-appeal.

The following week my father revealed my punishment: buy them a TV antenna with Alliance U-100 rotator for the TV in the family room.   The real punishment was not, however, my financial outlay for that purchase.  The real punishment was that, despite my proven new-found skills, I was not allowed to help—but watch my father install their new antenna to a vent chimney on the roof, standing in the backyard, poised to call for help if he fell.

My mother, upon seeing the new, added structure shooting from the vent chimney was further horrified.  But, our Montgomery Wards color TV (our first color TV!) now had a fantastic picture with no ghosting on any channels.   Even she had to admit that the antenna effected a huge improvement to their television viewing.

Dad's curiously short antenna mounting - the punishment antenna

However, much to my surprise, he had only mounted the antenna about one foot above the rotator!  He could have mounted it another three feet higher!  What was up with that! Surely you want to mount an antenna up as high as possible for best reception and lack of interference.  I guess that was his one consolation to Mom; make it a teeny bit less noticeable from the front of the house.  My antenna, on the other hand, could be seen from any angle in the neighborhood!  I was so proud!  Oh, and the ¾ inch hole I drilled through the wall of the house to run the antenna wire through the plastic tube?  Well, my Mother never saw that until they sold the house and retired to Florida a few years later.  I had proudly shown that piece of work to my Dad who stated at the time, “pretty nifty…And NEVER show that to your Mother”.  It was hidden from view behind my stereo equipment thank goodness.

But folks, that’s not the end of this story.   I mentioned at the beginning that this experience taught me a bit about wires and grounding.  How so?  Well, after settling in a bit with my new antenna system for my QX-8000, I became a bit underwhelmed by the RF gain.  (I still have the QX-8000 although it’s languishing in my attic, lonely).   I decided that maybe I should have bought the more expensive, albeit shorter, Finco FM4G antenna.  So, off to Lafayette I went about six months later and bought one.  I decided that two is always better than one, so I replaced the five foot mast with a ten foot mast and mounted both antennas on the same mast, one pointed towards metro Washington DC, and the other towards Baltimore.  I added another twin lead wire to the new Finco and installed a “knife-switch”.  (Remember those?  They looked like a mini version of the switch Dr. Frankenstein used to bring his monster to life).  The knife switch allowed me to switch between the two antennas depending on which station I wanted to listen to.  The new twin lead connected to the Finco antenna had some kind of foamed insulation, so I experimented by switching the wires where they connected to the two antennas on the roof to compare the wires.  I discovered the slightly older wire actually had better signal strength.  My first realization that wires do make a difference!

I didn’t think she’d notice, but soon Mom wanted to know why there were suddenly two antennas where there was formerly only one.  She complained about this until I finally decided that the Finco FM4G was a better antenna than the Lafayette antenna—it was more selective and had better gain despite being shorter, better tuning and spacing of the elements no doubt.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “Save up a bit more money and I can take down the Lafayette and put an Alliance U-100 rotator on that mast so I can aim the Finco in any direction.  No more need for a second antenna.”  And that is what I did!  This change also eliminated the knife switch, meaning there was one less junction for the signal to pass through.  Eventually, I even tried using a coax, shielded 75-ohm cable versus an unshielded 300-ohm twin lead for less noise pick up. However, since that also means you lose a bit of signal strength, I eventually settled on the twin lead.  My multipath worries were eliminated by the use of the rotator, and I could relax without further modifications to my FM antenna set-up.  Being a big Red Sox fan, I often tried to listen to games at night on AM with the QX-8000 receiver, but the noise level was often too annoying.  I discovered that by running a ground wire from the AM antenna ground tap on the back of the receiver to the FM antenna’s ground rod outside, I could improve the AM performance pretty dramatically.  This provided a much, much lower noise level so that the signal I was seeking could emerge from the background.  A proper ground is a must in an audio system, and I can’t overemphasize how much that will take the performance of your system to an even higher level.

My Finco FM4G and Alliance U-100 on Mom - Dad's roof circa 1975
This is why I was so excited to work with Nordost’s QRT Power Products. Our QRT QBASE distribution bar helps establish a common ground in your system and eliminates ground loops. I had thought the QBASE was the end-all-be-all in grounding, until we released our QKORE products last summer.  The QKORE dramatically reduces the noise level in a system by creating a clean, artificial earth, which has a dramatic and positive effect on the sound—bass becomes tighter, extends lower, and becomes more powerful.  The overall image moves further out into the room and extends beyond the boundaries of the speakers.  It’s really quite dramatic, and has to be heard to be believed! For my mother’s sake, I wish I had those products when I was a teen, I could have hid them much better than a rooftop antenna!

Oh, and speaking of my old FM antenna set-up at the old family house—out of curiosity, I drove by that house on a business trip… and lo and behold, the FM antenna and mast were still mounted on the roof!  Strangely enough though, no twin lead-connecting cable could be seen.  I guess there are no audiophiles living there anymore!

SoundStage Australia Reviews BC Sort Kones

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This month, featured a great review on our Sort Kone resonance control devices. In his article, Edgar Kramer explored the differences that BC Kones made on his sound system. The benefits that he experienced were anything but subtle. Sort Kones even got a stamp of approval from Edgar’s wife when she called him into the sound room, immediately having noticed a mysterious improvement in the ‘realness’ of the music!

“What I thought was going to be an exercise in punishingly strained listening usually resulting in ultra-subtle differences at best, ended up being deceptively the opposite. How wrong and surprised was I.”

Edgar’s Sort Kone review is now available to read on here: Nordost Sort Kone BC Resonance Control System

You can find this review and more great Nordost reviews on our Reviews Page.

Dealer Spotlight: Upscale Audio

By Michael Taylor

2Hats… “wearing many hats” is the phrase that comes to mind when we think about this month’s featured Nordost dealer, Kevin Deal, the founder of Upscale Audio.

You can actively see those hats being switched, one for the other, when you sit down and talk to Kevin.  One minute you are discussing the latest gear in his impressive demonstration room, the next he is telling you about the matched EL-34’s he has for sale; wait one more minute and the phone will ring—it’s one of his dealers of PrimaLuna, the well-known tube amplifier brand he imports and distributes in North America— and so it continues.


Kevin (aka “Uncle Kevy”, aka “The Tube Guru”) launched Upscale Audio in 1994, providing primarily tube upgrades, while selling a select group of product lines. With a reputation forged in exceptional customer service and product knowledge, Kevin has built Upscale Audio into one of the premier retail establishments in the country, which he has recently moved from Upland to Laverne, in Southern California. It’s a beauty!


The store is comprised of listening rooms, turntable setup and tube-testing stations, offices, and a warehouse.  If you can stay away from the tube selection (and the drooling it usually causes) you get a chance to see how amazing the demo rooms really look—and sound!


Nordost has partnered with Upscale for over 16 years now, and considers Kevin, and all his staff, as friends.  When we asked Kevin what his philosophy at Upscale Audio was, he said, “Our philosophy is simple but rare on the retail side of this industry: create friendships”.

We couldn’t agree more!


Nordost Playlist – February 2018

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 February.

You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  |  SPOTIFY

  1. 99—Elliot Moss—Boomerang
  2. Surprise Yourself—Jack Garratt—Phase (Deluxe)
  3. I’ll Close My Eyes—Dinah Washington—Blue Gardenia
  4. Evergreen—YEBBA—Evergreen
  5. Powa—Tune-Yards—WHOKILL
  6. Mystery of Love—Sufjan Stevens—Call Me by Your Name (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  7. Luna—Kuzo—Luna
  8. L’attesa—Petra Magoni, Ferruccio Spinetti—Anestesia totale
  9. Close But Not Quite—Everything is Recorded—Close But Not Quite
  10. Living In The City—Hurray For The Riff Raff—The Navigator


Pictures from Nordost Nation! January 2018

Nordost is lucky to have such incredibly loyal and enthusiastic customers! One great way that our fans let us know that they are happy with the work that we do is by sending us pictures of their Nordost products in action. Here are a few photos that have been shared with us recently. Feel free to send us pictures of Nordost in your system, via Facebook,, or #nordostcables on Instagram, so that we can continue to share them with the whole Nordost family!


@seantmanley is all set for a nice listening session with Nordost Blue Heaven!

@seantmanley is all set for a nice listening session with Nordost Blue Heaven!

Hifi Studio System Reference has their Accuphase E-650 outfitted with a great sampling of Nordost cables.

Hifi Studio System Reference has their Accuphase E-650 outfitted with a great sampling of Nordost cables.

Here's a setup shot of F1 Audio readying their system with Heimdall 2

Here’s a setup shot of F1 Audio readying their system with Heimdall 2

"The Guarneri Evolutions got some new friends to play with today. Ref 75 and Ref 75 SE are my favorite Audio Research amps, I prefer them to Audio Researchs bigger and more expensive poweramps." -  @watchingwater

“The Guarneri Evolutions got some new friends to play with today. Ref 75 and Ref 75 SE are my favorite Audio Research amps, I prefer them to Audio Researchs bigger and more expensive poweramps.” -

"KILLER" - @cultoffonza spinning Alice Cooper

“KILLER” – @cultoffonza spinning Alice Cooper


VPI held an amazing event using "Nordost Cables, KEF Blades, IsoAcoustics, Ortofon A-95, McIntosh Laboratory Inc. electronics, and room treatment. Source is the VPI Avenger Plus and VPI Voyager Phono."

VPI held an amazing event using “Nordost Cables, KEF Blades, IsoAcoustics, Ortofon A-95, McIntosh Laboratory Inc. electronics, and room treatment. Source is the VPI Avenger Plus and VPI Voyager Phono.”

Gabby (@gsoundquest) is showing of his 2 Flat Speaker Cables, terminated with Nordost's new Quick Connectors.

Gabby (@gsoundquest) is showing of his 2 Flat Speaker Cables, terminated with Nordost’s new Quick Connectors.

And here's the QKORE 6 Gabby is using to ground his system.

And here’s the QKORE 6 Gabby is using to ground his system.

"A stereo of the amazing battle! At Home with a brilliant happy customer feeds the music out in the room from components powered by Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH, Ayre and IsoTek Systems-bound together by cables from Nordost Cables." - Oslo Hi-Fi Center

“A stereo of the amazing battle! At Home with a brilliant happy customer feeds the music out in the room from components powered by Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH, Ayre and IsoTek Systems-bound together by cables from Nordost Cables.” – Oslo Hi-Fi Center

"Unboxing New Nordost Heimdall 2 High Performance Speaker Cables!" - @jimmy_hifi

“Unboxing New Nordost Heimdall 2 High Performance Speaker Cables!” – @jimmy_hifi

Nordost Day at Audiotorium Pederson!

Nordost Day at Audiotorium Pederson!

@phillipwangusa is making good use of our Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable

@phillipwangusa is making good use of our Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable

@utantowibowo relaxing at a friend's home with Wilson Audio and Nordost

@utantowibowo relaxing at a friend’s home with Wilson Audio and Nordost

Sander Andersen (@sound4pro) is showing off some vingtage SuperFlatline speaker cable

Sander Andersen (@sound4pro) is showing off some vingtage SuperFlatline speaker cable!


Nelson Brill On New Audiophile Jazz Recordings

Real music lovers can find the melody in everything. From the park to the concert hall, our friend Nelson Brill is always on the hunt for great sound. In this blog, Brill shares some new Audiophile jazz recordings.

New Audiophile Jazz Recordings To Spin And Savor

By Nelson Brill

January 14, 2018


Audiophile buddies gather around! Here are a few of my favorite new jazz recordings on CD or vinyl to share. They all contain toe-tapping music recorded with excellent sonics that deliver all the dynamic presence of these great musicians at play.


First off, there is cause for celebration in hearing the new recording by the magnificent vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant and her savvy trio: Aaron Diehl on piano; Paul Sikivie on bass and Lawrence Leathers on drums. Dreams and Daggers [Mack Avenue Records;] captures this magnetic partnership in delicious flight in their performances at the Village Vanguard in New York City in September, 2016.


Salvant’s singular voice fills every nook and cranny of this glorious live recording with joy. She pours herself fully into the vessel of the blues singing slow and radiant on her powerful version of “My Man’s Gone Now” and then spiky and sweet on Ida Cox’s classic “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues” and in the comic stroll of “Sam Jones’ Blues.” Her vocal playfulness positively glows on such burbling romps as “Let’s Face The Music And Dance”; “Nothing Like You” and “Never Will I Marry.” She effortlessly fashions narratives by Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes into a coiled, unfolding performance (on the unflinching “Somehow I Never Could Believe”) and then she joins a velvety string ensemble with cool vocal glow on a few zesty originals. Salvant inhabits the narratives of her songs with effortless aplomb. She fills each with soft scampers; slow delicious murmurs or heady crescendos – all with expressive delight. She possesses this protean ability to maintain her lithe pitch control to lightly perch on any twig or branch in her wondrous vocal range with indelible expressiveness (from tender quips to full blasts of soulful heat).


Harlem World Magazine

Her partnering trio is as dapper and impeccable as one of Mr. Diehl’s fastidious bowties. On Dreams and Daggers, each player dazzles in their solo work and in their collective whimsy with Salvant’s creative lead. Diehl is a master storyteller at his keyboard. He possesses the lightest of touches; the most devious velvety runs and can surprise with fresh bursts of octaves or soft isolated notes that combine for deep expressiveness. Sikivie’s bass is a resonant juggernaut (check out his pumping presence in duet with Savant on “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me”) and Leathers is a sensual propulsive machine on his drum kit (listen to his impeccable backbone on “Si J’etais Blanche”). Savant’s duet with guest pianist Sullivan Fortner on “You’ve Got To Give Me Some” is another highlight as it shakes with sassy fury and showcases Fortner’s own transfixing piano style and his swanking partnership with the ever-adventurous Salvant. The audiophile quality of Dreams and Daggers captures every tactile detail of these gleeful encounters within the acoustic space and energy of the Vanguard. The adoring audience is also ensnared up close and present in their  boisterous enthusiasm for each musical gift bestowed by this stunning jazz band in action.

Across town from the Village Vanguard, the eminent Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra ( creates its own magic in performances at Lincoln Center in New York City. Two of its stalwart musicians, bassist Gerald Cannon and alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, each have new recordings out in which they contribute to each other’s smart, bracing and vital music.


Cannon’s Combinations [Woodneck Records;] fires on all cylinders with swinging prowess, such as on the opening “Every Man Is A King” (with blaze of trumpet from Jeremy Pelt) or on “One For Amos” with  Cannon’s fluid bass pumping behind Irby’s biting alto sax. The musicians gathered on this recording offer dynamic companionship to Cannon in their eclectic journey together. Russell Malone’s swanking guitar joins Cannon’s nimble bass in a radiant duet on “How Great Thou Art” while Gary Bartz’s smoothly cascading alto propels the unflinching R & B of “Gary’s Tune.” Pianists Kenny Barron and Rick Germanson bring their own glowing styles to several tunes that run from a shimmering bossa (“Amanda’s Bossa”) to the feathery lightness of “How My Heart Sings.” Drummer extraordinaire Willie Jones III brings his panache to everything he touches, including the blaring cacophony of “Columbus Circle Stop” which blares with Jones’ humming snare and crisp cymbal heat. Don’t miss the last tune, “Darn That Dream,” in which Cannon stretches his elastic acoustic bass to the max in a glowing solo piece where his fingers pull, hold and pluck upon his low strings to create a brewing cauldron of deep soulful dance.


Cannon and Jones shine as well on Sherman Irby’s new recording, Cerulean Canvas [Black Warrior Records], another powerful statement of creative jazz mixing with blues heat.


This recording is another audiophile gem, recorded by engineer Katherine Miller, who also recorded the Cannon Combinations session. Miller takes great care to deliver all the tactile details and buoyant energy of these two heated blowing sessions and ensnares all of their superlative musicianship and comradeship up close and personal.

Irby’s sharp robust attack on his alto sax can sing in bellowing breathy notes as on his molten slow grooving heater, “John Bishop Blues” (with Cannon’s pungent bass pumping behind) or on his “Blues For Poppa Reed” (with pianist Eric Reed tenacious and twinkling). He can also sing on his alto sax in full ballad glory on the slow unfurling swing of “From Day By Day” and the loping gait of Wayne Shorter’s “Contemplation”. The unusual front line of Irby’s alto sax mixing it up with a tenacious trombone (plied by either Vincent Garner or Elliot Mason) is bold and expressive. “Willie’s Beat” and “Racine” are stellar examples, with trombone and alto sax rollicking to Reed’s pouncing piano notes and the sparkle of Jones’ nimble cymbal/snare combinations. Irby’s version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” is a sprite swinging delight where trombone, sax and bass frolic in lightning elegance to the dance of Jones’ wood rim hits.

Trombone also plays glorious partner to sax in another blazing recording session brought to us by the young baritone saxophonist, B.J. Jansen, on his new recording, Common Ground [RonninJazz;].


Jansen joins one of my favorite trombonists, the dapper and keenly creative Delfeayo Marsalis, in a collective that also includes trumpeter Duane Eubanks; bassist Dezron Douglas; pianist Zaccai Curtis and the indefatigable drummer, Ralph Peterson. They create another barn burning session that is captured on this recording in all its intense up-front energy and tactile crackle.

The heat is immediately felt on “Stacey’s Plan” as Jansen’s reedy baritone plunges and flows deep in partnership with Douglas’ bass and Marsalis’ colorful trombone declarations (filled with high note blares and slippery slides). Curtis shines with keyboard prowess as he delivers tight bluesy turns of phrase and deft soft note accents. “Bucket Full of Soul” also swings kinetically on Jansen’s baritone pelts and gutsy breeze (blowing from high registers to low) with Marsalis working his creative banter and bluster. In contrast, “Brandon’s Blues” walks in slow strides as baritone and (muted) trombone take a stroll in warm meandering fashion, until Eubanks trumpet interrupts with his brazen calls – all angular, creative shine. This glittering band can do anything it wills: moving effortlessly from the full bore swing of “Angela’s Aggravation” to the melodic flow of “Relaxin’ With Jessica”. The title cut, with a feel of John Coltrane’s combination of soulfulness and heat, is ignited by Jansen’s baritone solo roiling in colorful declarations of low reedy power and heft partnered with Douglas’ heady bass rolls and Peterson’s snare and cymbal power. The magnetic Peterson is a creative gale force throughout the recording. His percussive foundation lays the brickwork for all the garlands of sonic riches and grooves that are delivered from this tight adventurous band flourishing in their companionship.

Shadows of John Coltrane and his compatriot genius, Thelonious Monk, linger over many of these new artists’ creative visions. Appropriately, two new recordings shine brightly upon Monk’s legacy.


The first is a special audiophile quality LP (also available in a deluxe 2-LP box set) of a never-before released recording session by Monk joined by saxophonists Charlie Rouse and Barney Wilen; bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Taylor at the Nola Penthouse Sound Studios in July, 1959. The occasion was to record a soundtrack for Roger Vadim’s film, Les Liasons Dangereuses and this new vinyl release of the same title, (produced by Zev Feldman, Francois Le Xuan and Fred Thomas for Sam Records/Saga []) invites the listener to take a front row seat to experience the informal give and take between these great musicians. Listening through my Rega RP-10 turntable with Alpheta 2 cartridge ( and Aesthetix Rhea phonostage, ( this LP’s surfaces were dead quiet and images were beautifully rendered. Although Monk’s piano is a bit recessed and its harmonic body slightly curtailed, there is a naturalness and informal quality to this session that immediately draws one into the drama and chemistry between these simpatico players. When the full band is involved, such as on their swinging “Well, You Needn’t,” or “Rhythm-a-Ning”, Rouse and Wilen’s saxes explode with dynamic presence in each corner; Taylor’s jumping sticks on his cymbal are crisp and clear and Jones’ walking bass is a pungent engine. Monk’s delicious and obtuse keyboard chases bind all this buoyant drama with his limpid bluesy phrases and pouncing chords. On “Six in One”; “Crepuscule with Nellie” and “Pannonica”, Monk’s solos are little marvels which are revealed on this splendid LP in all their intricate design and playful vision. The swank of Monk’s 12-bar blues, “Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are” is icing on the cake as all of these gifted musicians take a spirited run at this voluptuous romp. The Sam Records LP of this historic session allows us to time-travel back to sit in a folding chair in the Nola Studio and relish all of these potent grooves and musical drama within the air, warmth and naturalness of the studio space that only an LP can provide.


Taking his own inspiration from Monk’s incomparable razzmatazz with rhythms, instrumental colors and melodic fancy, pianist, composer and arranger John Beasley has reinvented many of Monk’s compositions into his own exuberant stew for his “MONKestra” Big Band. The band has released two volumes of recordings, entitled MONKestra Volume 1 and 2 both on Mack Avenue Records []. The recording quality of both of these titles is excellent with the full weight, spaciousness and colorful imagery of a swanking big band in creative flight captured in a layered and airy  space. Beasley and his MONKestra can make a blaring New Orleans’ parade out of the glory of Monk’s “Round Midnight” or sail Monk’s “Skippy” into bluesy R & B territory, carefree and swinging. Monk’s “Little Rootie Tootie” is a collage of start and stop brass and woodwind soars while “Epistrophy” beckons with its dissonant swipes and clusters of tumultuous sounds (with guest Gary Burton frolicking on his crisp vibes). From Monk’s unpredictable vamps to his swinging bebop glory, everything is within the grasp of Beasley’s creative arrangements and the MONKestra’s consummate music making. They partner on these two recordings to flutter, spin and carouse in the playful landscape of Monk’s genius to the delight of our ears and our spirit.

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