Besides rodeos, Tex-Mex, BBQ, NASA, and many other things, Houston Texas is known for being one of the largest and most diverse cities in America. With all the great things to love about Houston, 3mA Audio stands at the top of the list for audiophiles and music lovers alike.
With a passion for music and vintage audio gear, especially tube audio, Johnny Yip first opened 3mA Audio’s doors in 2012 with just a few product lines. Johnny’s experience and passion for tube and vintage gear gave him the reputation of being the walking encyclopedia for vintage audio. Fast forward to today. Johnny Yip and now partner, Luis Miranda, who was once a client, have expanded the business and carry some of the highest quality audio gear and accessories in the industry, such as YG Acoustics, Vitus Audio, Bowers and Wilkins, Audio Research, Nordost and more. There is something for every taste and budget, and Johnny and Luis help their clients find what’s right for everyone.
Unlike the famous Texas barbecue restaurants, who will never reveal their secret recipe, 3mA Audio’s secret to success is no secret! Their commitment to treating everyone who walks in the door as if they were family is what sets them apart and keeps their clients coming back. With their multiple listening rooms, events at 3mA Audio are not ones to be missed! They cater to their attendees, treating them to music, demonstrations, food, and beverages. Their expansive but cozy outdoor deck (with patio!) hosts live concerts and attracts big crowds.
For Johnny, Luis, and their staff, 3mA feels like a second home, and it will to you too! If you’re in Houston looking for the best high-end audio buying experience, look no further than the experts at 3mA Audio.
It seems like ages ago that we were traveling around the world, visiting our friends and business partners, and educating end users about the effects that our products have on sound systems. In order to demonstrate these products, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort systems and accessories. While we might not be able to use our music for demos at the moment, we find that music means more to us than ever. We wanted to share some of the tracks that we have been playing to get us through these wild times, and hope that they bring you enjoyment and help you pass the time. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but we hope that there’s something for everyone.
Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this April.
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, Nelson looks at different ways that music lovers can support artists during this difficult time, from virtual concerts, to support funds, to listening at home.
NEW JAZZ RECORDINGS TO SAVOR- PART 1: WOMEN VOCALISTS TAKE CENTER STAGE
By Nelson Brill March 26, 2020
Best wishes to all friends and musical companions around the world (wherever bostonconcertreviews reaches!) for good health, strength and restorative power in these challenging times with the coronavirus. The support of the Arts will go on and people are finding creative ways to make that happen. I encourage checking in with your favorite artists’ websites about their online concerts. For instance, jazz pianist Fred Hersch will be offering a daily dose of joyful music from his piano in his online mini-concert series (see his Facebook site) and the rocking Tedeschi Trucks Band will be offering broadcasts of their recent live performances (see their Twitter feed). Just announced is an online festival of 28 performances by artists including Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Becca Stevens and many more. The official website for the online festival is: www.livefromourlivingrooms.com.
Many online concerts will have virtual “tip jars” (through Paypal and other services) to support the performers. Here in Boston, music schools like New England Conservatory (www.necmusic.edu) and Berklee College of Music (www.berklee.edu) are establishing online funds to support their students and local music venues, such as the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. (www.passim.org/pearfund/) have established funds to support local musicians in need. If you are able to give, I urge you to support these funds and online concerts to support the music and the artists in these tough times.
Listening at home to recordings on a quality audio system is another great way to support the artists (and your independent audio dealers!) and get lost in the positive vibes of music. With this in mind, I’ll offer reviews of some new audiophile quality recordings that have been in heavy rotation here in the listening room for your exploration and pleasure. We start with a roundup of new women jazz vocalists whose music is sure to bring spiritual uplift!
At a concert held in Boston on March 6th at the Berklee Performance Center (“BPC”), presented by treasured local non-profit arts organization, GlobalArtsLive (support at: www.globalartslive.org), I heard an astonishing young Cuban vocalist, Yilian Canizares, in her first American concert tour. Canizares performed alongside her two stellar countrymen: the sparkling pianist, Omar Sosa, and the feisty percussionist, Gustavo Ovalles.
Their spectacular GlobalArtsLive concert teemed with boundless playfulness and spirit. Canizares presided over the band’s enveloping musical drama with her joyful dancing presence and her stunning vocals elegant and lithe as a warm breeze. Her voice was a rich vessel of expression that leapt from her soft pitter-patter of percussive scat (in dashing duet with Sosa’s piano banter) and her easy-flowing soars, supple and air-born. Her dramatic violin was a perfect foil for her vocal splendor. She produced delectable airy plucks on her instrument (to accompany her light scatting) or deeply bowed her strings to propel the regal glow of her lowest vocals, poignant and powerful. Her moving tribute to the Yoruba goddess, Oshun, (protector of women and water) was an inspired example of how she completely inhabited the world of her songs. This particular tribute ended dramatically with Canizares sitting on the floor of the stage, with head bowed, in a meditative moment that combined her whispered vocals with the lightest of violin quivers – culminating in a wisp of gentle sounds into silence.
Canizares and her sparkling partners focused their performance on songs taken from their new recording, Aguas [OTA Records], a beautiful recording that captures the tensile strength and playful spirit of these consummate musicians in flight. Joining Canizares’ irresistible vocal and string inventions on Aguas is Sosa’s ever-adventurous spirit on his piano and electric keyboard.
Sosa has this magnetic gift where he can combine effortless dance and swing on his keyboards and electronics in astonishing variety (global rhythms just seem to flow through his blood!) with the ability to interweave those rich rhythms and patterns into buoyant melodies that he unspools within his dramatic flourishes and velvety runs. He can pounce on a Cuban danzon with a blast of gleeful chords (rising from his piano chair in delight) or he can transfix with a quiet unfurl of twinkling high piano notes that arch upwards in glittering, animated spirit.
Ovalles’ tangy inventiveness on his drum kit (including his thunderous Bata drums) is also a beauty to behold, both on Aguas as well as in live performance. Towards the end of their GlobalArtsLive concert at the BPC, Ovalles launched into an extended musical dialogue with Sosa. He first played a kinetic maracas solo (in which he shook every limb to wring out his bursts of crackling sounds) and then sat down on the stage floor to play a group of large wooden pipes, coaxing the most unusual resonant sounds and thrums in his call-and-response with Sosa’s light bursts of piano notes (with Sosa grinning in delight). Canizares’ regal voice floated effortlessly above all this delectable musical action. She channeled the fresh sounds of her partners into her dancing violin and sweet vocal frolic –all with effortless grace, freedom and open-mindedness.
Another luminous singer is Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, who appeared in a rare recital on November 7th at New England Conservatory (“NEC”), joined by students in the NEC Jazz Studies and Jazz Orchestra programs. Standing in front of her microphone in intimate Brown Hall (with a capacity audience leaning- in to catch every vocal caress), Souza sang with sparkling brio. Her dulcet vocals cascaded with creative runs and fluid soars. Guitarist Andres Orco-Zerpa, pianist Moshe Elmakias and bassist Andrew Schiller were her perfect partners as they nestled Souza’s vocals in a quiet swirl of bright colors and punctual rhythms. On Maria Schneider’s fanciful creation “Choro Dancado” (taken from Schneider’s Grammy awarded 2004 album, Concert In The Garden [Artistshare], (an album also recently inducted into the National Recording Registry with Schneider now the first female jazz composer to have a record in the Registry), Souza and the NEC Jazz Orchestra delivered all the buoyant dance of Schneider’s sunny piece with Souza soaring in light word-play above the Orchestra’s tight grooves and bright solos.
Another highlight from this recital was Souza’s elegant duet with guitarist Orco-Zerpa on Marco Pereira’s “Dona Lu”. Pereira is an esteemed Brazilian guitarist and composer who also appears on Souza’s recording, Brazilian Duos [Sunnyside Records]. On this gem, Pereira, along with two other gifted guitarists – Romero Lubamba and Walter Santos (Souza’s father) – take turns in joining Souza in duets of zestful concoctions. The superb recording captures Souza’s vocal beauty in crisp and tactile presence lighting up a warm, airy acoustic. Her great feel for rhythm and swing (finding those interstitial pauses at just the right moments in her songs) is jubilant as her voice dances in and around the nimble strings of her three spirited partners. For instance, on her duet with Lubambo on their sassy version of “Pra Que Discutir Con Madame”, Souza’s swooping vocals nestle perfectly within the embrace of Lubambo’s warm, playful strings.
Also, do try and catch Souza’e ethereal vocals on another audiophile gem, the magnetic recording by saxophonist Tim Reis and his marvelous cast of performers on his The Rolling Stones Project [Concord Records]. Souza joins in a Latin-tinged version of the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” that is as fresh as it is boldly adventurous. The dynamic presence of this entire recording is not to be missed.
Another vocalist who effortlessly combines vocal beauty, power and sass into an irresistible toe-tapping stew is vocalist Catherine Russell. On her new recording, Alone Together [Dot Time Records], she and her tight band romp through an inspired set of early twentieth century classic tunes with panache and impeccable chops.
Russell’s voice is a splendid instrument of soulful invention. She moves elegantly from deep burnished tones (on her slow-brewing, grooving blues) to sassy raw vitality on her up-tempo, big band thrillers. She forms her words with gracious warmth and flow and always looks to capture the radiance or untapped kernel of emotion in every song. Take a listen to the opening title track (with its carousing vocals, brass and piano soloing) or Russell’s take on Louis Jordan’s classic tune, “Early In The Morning”, a greasy slow turn of blues heaven in her assured vocal grasp. The recording quality is superb with Russell and her band’s images natural and crisply defined in a layered soundstage (with only a touch of artificiality to their compartmentalized spacing). The music breathes carefree and flowing as Russell commands the stage with her striking vocal charisma partnered with her band’s glittering swagger and swing.
For more joyful vocals brimming with tight band marvels, look no further than the new audiophile gem from ebullient vocalist, Lyn Stanley, and her band, the Jazz Mavericks, on their direct-to-disc London With A Twist – Live At Bernie’s [www.lynstanley.com]. This tribute to the legendary singer Julie London is a gem of musical inventiveness and recording prowess. It is one of the best recordings of a jazz group that you can hear: a group of stellar musicians communing on great material and channeling their keen synergy into a live session recorded without any edits or electronic alterations. The session, (done without any pre-conceived arrangements, just chord charts to guide the band in their creative adventures) is available on a hybrid SACD (containing DSD layers from a “needle drop” of the direct-to-disc test; a DSD layer from the reel-to-reel of the live recording and a standard CD layer) and on a gorgeously presented LP. The live recording was made at legendary Bernie Grundman’s studio with engineer Allen Sides and his expert team at the controls (with Grundman doing the disc mastering). A music lover’s dream, the recording (in each of its formats) delivers a reach-out-and-touch tactile presence that is astounding. Here also is the airy presence of the recording space, the natural images of the band and a dynamic aliveness that is captivating in such details as the resonant punch of congas; the metallic shimmer of light cymbals; the full harmonic body of a piano and those lingering smokey last whispers of “Bye-Bye!” to end Stanley’s grooving version of “Bye Bye Blackbird”.
Each tune on this remarkable album is mined by the spontaneous energy and vocal caresses of Stanley. Her vocal styling embraces a natural pacing and unforced swing that warmly invites a listen into every creative swoop and turn of her creative phrasing. Stanley completely inhabits a slow rumba with her breathy fluidity (“I’ve Got You Under My Skin”); takes a wistful ballad into her supple meanders (“Body and Soul”) or ratchets-up the groove on her sassy frolics (“Route 66” and “Goody Goody”). Her tight band is always in stride with her sense of adventure. Guitarist John Chiodini’s golden hues (firing away on up-tempo arrangements like “In The Still Of The Night” or softly caressing on “Blue Moon”) are beautiful to follow while pianists Otmaro Ruiz and Mike Lang’s soft twinkles of chords are perfect colors for Stanley’s vocals to linger in. The rhythm section of bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Aaron Serfaty and percussionist Luis Conte stay solidly in the pocket all session long. Check out their zestful flow on “Let There Be You”- a toe-tapping joy ride pungently rendered on this stunningly present recording completed in one delectable take.
And speaking of zest and creative flights of fancy, I leave this installment of women jazz vocalist recordings with mention of a brilliant musical partnership now revealed for the first time on disc: the legendary pianist Ran Blake and his phenomenal vocal partner Jeanne Lee [1939-2000] on their duet recordings from 1966 and 1967 now released on The Newest Sound You Never Heard [A-Side Records; ranblake.com; necmusic.edu].
This beautiful recording documents this special moment in music history when the inventive Blake, (prickly and penetrating on his keys), found a partner of similar venturesome spirit in Lee whose voice is a vehicle of luminous beauty and questing spirit. It is a joy to sit down and listen to this disc (delivering a front row seat to this intimate, airy session) and be invited into the fresh musical world of these two eloquent artists. They take inspiration from an eclectic source of songs from Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, amongst many others. Their inventions are whimsical creations: tart and sweet or gospel rich or soulfully tender. Lee’s vocal quality is poignant and playful. Her tone flutters in light, dewy beauty or in deep bluesy purples. Their magical synergy and music-making is just what we need in these times: restoration of our spirit through the glory of free-flowing musical dialogue that is energizing, boundless and healing.
The past few weeks seem both simultaneously a whirlwind and frozen in time. While the situation outside is changing by the day, if not by the hour, those of us who are stuck inside have no choice but to deal with the monotony that comes with isolation. Practicing social distancing is nothing if not tedious. To cope with the new normal, some people try to maintain a regimented routine, others binge a show, play games with family, arrange virtual meet-ups with friends, take daily walks—all in the pursuance of normalcy, entertainment, comfort.
As self-proclaimed audiophiles and music-lovers, we are luckier than most. We know what makes us happy and what calms our nerves. Not only that, but our hobby seems to have been designed specifically for the situation we now find ourselves in. We have been “stockpiling” gear, and curating our perfect systems for years, and now (albeit under terrible circumstances) we have all the time in the world to enjoy what we have made. Now is the time to sit back, relax, and listen to our music.
Nordost is a company made up of music lovers, and we are all excited to put some good hours in on our systems. We thought it would be fun to show you how we’re listening while cooped up at home, and we would love to see where you are enjoying your music too. Feel free to share pictures of your system in action!
I think we can all agree, there are worse places to be forced to spend time than in front of a sound system. Today, let’s all be thankful for the music, and the systems that allow us to enjoy it so beautifully!
Part II of our QRT Products Review is live on NOVO! In his second segment, reviewer George de Sa focuses on the effects of our QKORE Ground Units. George confidently suggests that everyone should demo this revolutionary product for themselves, saying that if achieving the full potential of your system was the goal, an audition would be well worth your time!
“…the Nordost QRT QKORE6 and QKORE Wires provided enhanced benefits on a scale I would be hard-pressed to live without; benefits that could not be described as anything-less-than significant.”
To catch up on Part I of the three-part QRT review, you can read what George had to say about the QX4 Power Purifier HERE.As always, you can find both segments, as well as countless other product reviews on the Reviews Page of the Nordost website.
Very few small to mid-size cities are fortunate enough to have both a nationally renowned record shop and a fantastic high-end audio boutique. Allentown, Pennsylvania is one of those very lucky cities. The two stores are located adjacent to each other, so it is easy to visit both in one trip! I’m talking about Nordost dealer, BEK Hi Fi, which shares a building with Double Decker Records, rated one of the top five pre-owned records shops in the US!
BEK Hi Fi started out several years ago as a home-based audio boutique business. However, in 2013, after manager Erik Konigsberg graduated from college, a decision was made to open a brick-and-mortar store with Erik running the day-to-day operations of this business. What a great decision that turned out to be! Erik’s approach has been to establish a comfortable and accommodating venue in which his customers can audition audio gear at their leisure with a “no pressure” sales approach. Potential customers travel from both the surrounding Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, about an hour away, for the opportunity to audition BEK’s fine lines in this very comfortable setting. His customers are very appreciative of both his expertise and accommodating demeanor, which many have related to me on my visits to this audio oasis. Erik also possesses the advantage of having well-tuned, youthful ears, which means he is quite adept at auditioning any gear he considers for display in their store. In order for any new gear to make it to the show floor it must first pass his critical audition for great sound quality and great value!
Erik and his father, Barry, have just completed a renovation of the store, including the addition of a second, nicely appointed sound room. This has greatly expanded their demo capabilities. Erik has utilized comforting earth tones along with some cool art to the walls and has added some tasteful mid-century modern furnishings. The rooms have very comfortable seating so that you can audition speakers and gear in a relaxed, home-like setting. Erik has a very wide selection of music available for you to use during auditions, and you can, of course, bring your own. Over the past seven years BEK Hi Fi has expanded their audio mix to include a wonderful assortment of premier audio gear. This expansive list includes, among several others, Devore Fidelity, Harbeth, Sonner Audio, Oswalds Mill Speakers, Luxman, Line Magnetic, Audio Hungary, Chord Electronics, Moon by Simaudio, Brinkmann Audio, Rega, Dynavector, Kiseki, Ortofon, Innuos, and of course, Nordost! BEK is authorized for our Leif Series, Norse 2 Series, Valhalla 2, our QRT products, and our great accessories. Make sure to ask for a demo (particularly of our new QPoints)! Please note, visiting this shop is a great opportunity to audition — and buy! — many different brands of gear. Then you can walk next door and peruse the vast selection of pre-owned vinyl that Double Decker Records has to offer! I purchased two LPs myself on my most recent visit to call on Erik. Visit BEK Hi Fi’s website to find all their contact information, especially so you can set up a convenient audition time. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday, so please make sure the next time you are in eastern PA, you drop by to visit Erik and his wonderful store!
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, email@example.com, or #nordostcables on Instagram, so that we can continue to share them with the whole Nordost family!
“No better way to get the most out of a 20 year old pair of mint B&W 805 Nautilus than to commit to Nordost Heimdall 2 Speaker and Jumper Cables!” – @jimmy_hifi
@andrea151275 Shared this pic unboxing a Tyr 2 Power Cord and Blue Heaven Interconnects
@phillipwangusa shared this cool black and white shot of his OPPO headphones and Heimdall 2 Headphone Cable
“New Odin 1 power cord in the system. Excited to get this warmed up and playing.” – @sl1800hifi
“Raw Power! The Heimdall 2 power cable from Nordost is built just like the mythological man himself, rugged, solid while seeing and hearing all. An enjoyable cable.” – @venothnair
“Bryson 4B Cubed feeding Nordost Tyr 2 cables. UN-fussy, clean, pure signal path.” – @jayteerides
@paolo_troilo shared some great images of his beautiful listening room
@fredriklubbe_ has his system wired with Valhalla 2, Heimdall 2, Purple Flare, and Blue Heaven!
“Nordost Tyr 2 speaker cable up close and personal. There’s a whole world inside.” – @jayteerides
“Today i have received my Nordost Sort Lift (4 sets) and they are outstanding” “It sounds really good, thanks to Nordost cables/products too. I really love the whole sinergy of system” – Rocco Ianni
“2020 Resolution More of this” – @jrgwin
“Sunday Listening Session in my Yamaha/B&W Room.” – @jimmy_hifi
@great___sound’s Odin 2 Power Cable is looking good behind his system!
“The amp has been isolated by Nordost!” – @savvaskozi
@cultoffonza is always spinning records with his Heimdall 2 cables
Come and join us for a night of demonstrations, comparisons, and great music! Soundings HiFi, in Denver, CO, is hosting a Nordost event March 19th, from 6–9 PM. Nordost sales representative, Mike Marko, will be in attendance, giving guests an introduction to our line of hifi audio cables. We hope that everyone in the area will be able to visit us to hear, firsthand, what our transformative products have to offer your home audio system.
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 March.
Come and see Nordost at the Salon Audio Montréal Audio Fest. Please join us March 27th – 29th in Montréal at the Hôtel Bonaventure. Throughout the show, our sales representative and product specialist, Bruno de Lorimier, will be performing live demonstrations and product comparisons, available in both French and English, in Westmount 4.
The Montréal Audio Fest is a perfect opportunity to hear the effect that quality cables have on a hifi system, and to witness how enhancements to cable design improve the caliber of a system’s performance.
There will be plenty of opportunities to hear Nordost this year! Make sure to check us out in the following rooms: Audio d’Occasion in Outremont 4, Kevro in Westmount 3, Gershman Acoustics in St-Laurent 8, Goerner Audio in room 2326, Québec Acoustique in Westmount WK2, and of course in our own room in Westmount 4. Admission is free to the public, so we hope to see you there!