Questions and Answers (June 2020)

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!


Q: Can I wire my system with cables from different ranges within the Leif family? 

A: Yes. You can definitely wire your system with a mix of cables from the Leif range. Our cables all have the same design philosophy, so while products improve due to added conductors, gauges, and technologies, they all have the same sonic signature. This allows you to budget your cables accordingly, and upgrade piece by piece when needed. 


Q: What is better: short interconnects or short loudspeaker cables?

A: The signal loss on Nordost cables is very low due to the use of extruded FEP insulation and Mono-Filament technology. Nordost cables can run over longer distances with less signal loss than regular cables. However, when planning a system set up, it is wise to keep lower level signals such as tonearm cables and analog interconnects relatively short.  It is better to use longer loudspeaker cables as these typically have much more current and voltage being provided by the power amplifier.


Q: Why do Nordost 75 Ohm digital cables come with BNC to RCA Adaptors? 

A: The correct termination for true 75 Ohm impedance is a BNC connector, due to the mechanical spacing of the center conductor relative to the outer insulation. We have found that keeping the integrity of the 75 Ohm cable with a BNC termination and using an RCA adaptor always provides better sonic results.  It also means the cable can be used easily as a clocking cable, which typically uses BNC connections for superior performance.


Q: Power cords can’t make a difference after the miles electricity travels in wires to get to my house. 

A: While they are not audio-grade, the cables used to transfer electricity through the grid and to your home, are actually a significant gauge. The “choke point” usually does occur in your home. Not only that, but it is very important to try to minimize the effects of artifacts, EMI, and RFI that are introduced to electricity on its journey to your home and continue to be introduced from your home appliances. 


Nordost Playlist – June 2020

Over the past few months, Nordost  has been happy that we can continue to make our time spent at home a little more bearable with the gift of great music. Our products aim to allow you to enjoy your favorite performances as they were intended to be heard. Like you, we here at Nordost are music lovers. Each one of us has our own style… we listen to a wide variety of artists and genres but, in a way, we appreciate them all. We thought that we would share a few of the songs on our own personal playlists with you each month. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your tastes, but we hope that there is something here for everyone. 

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


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


  1. Mississippi Goddam-Live At Carnegie Hall, New York, 1964—Nina Simone—In Concert 
  2. ‘Round Midnight-Remastered 2013—Thelonious Monk—‘Round Midnight 
  3. The Weight-Live—Mavis Staples and Company—Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration 
  4. Lucille—Little Richard—The Very Best of…Little Richard
  5. Greens—Be Steadwell—Queer Love Songs 
  6. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)—Marvin Gaye—What’s Going On-40th Anniversary 
  7. Where Do We Go—Solange—A Seat at the Table 
  8. The Boss—James Brown, They J.B.’s—Black Caesar 
  9. Time’s A Wastin—Erykah Badu—Mam’s Gun
  10. Easy Living (with Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra)—Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson—Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) 

The Well-Grounded System: An Update


By Mike Marko

Five years ago, that sunny day when I first pounded in that ground rod and attached the Nordost QLINE ground wire to my Nordost QB8 MKII power distribution system was an absolute revelation.  The sonic improvements were unmistakable: in general, there was not only better timing to the system, but, specifically, far better bass definition.  However, a problem was lurking.  By adding an earth ground to the electrical wiring in my house, I actually unbalanced the grounding scheme of the house and the entire neighborhood.  You see, in my neighborhood there is only an earth connection at the pole that supplies power and ground to groups of homes at a time.  After looking up the electrical code (always a good thing, especially before a project like this!) I found that, in my case, adding an earth ground at the house was not a good thing. To complicate things further, ground rods also vary in their conduction to the earth.  Ground moisture and salinization affect this conduction, so performance often varies. But I loved the sonic improvements!!! So: what should I (and you, dear reader) do?

Enter the QKORE.  The QKORE is Nordost’s ground-breaking (pun intended) system for establishing a quiet ground reference for stereo systems – Unlike other grounding options, it does not violate the electrical code and is easy to employ even in high-rise homes.  The QKORE system utilizes Low Voltage Attractor Plates (LVAP) that act as an artificial earth ground to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) so these nasties are totally attracted to the LVAPs for dissipation.  All without the bother of an actual conductor in the dirt with far more consistent performance!

The QKORE system goes one step further in addressing ground noise, which can be generated after the power supply in any given component.  This noise is insidious.  It masks low level detail, much like a noise masking system in an open-plan office.  The idea of noise masking is to generate enough of a noise pattern – modified white noise – so that, in this analogy, one office-person’s noise doesn’t intrude on the acoustic space of another. It is highly effective too.  The low-level noise distinctly generated by loudspeakers above a suspended ceiling makes it very difficult to hear the person next to you; all the while, the noise, itself, is inaudible.  This also happens in your system when ground “noise” masks the low-level signals one is fighting to hear.  Like the ambience and reverb decay in your favorite music hall or the intimate feeling of a small jazz club or a great studio. 

So, while the primary ground reference can now be established by connecting an LVAP to the incoming AC ground, the QKORE can also now attack the DC noise generated by the components, themselves.  Nordost calls this the secondary ground connection.  It is accomplished by using special QKORE grounding wires that use common audio connections to link the ground after the components’ power supply to its own LVAP.  These audio connection QKORE ground wires only connect to an unused ground connection at unused input or output connectors, like RCA, BNC, XLR, RJ45, etc. 

The QKORE 1 deals with just the primary AC ground noise and connects to your power distribution strip.  The QKORE 3 is solely intended for secondary ground DC noise utilizing audio connectors on the components themselves.  The ever popular QKORE 6 is a combo unit with two LVAPs that do both jobs in one unit.

But, you may ask, “How does all this compare to my original ground rod system?”  Well, let me say unequivocally that the QKORE solution sounds far better and is far more stable, day in and day out.  My system has never sounded consistently better and the low-level resolution and bass performance are out of this world!


Questions and Answers: AXPONA Livestream


As you all know, our industry had to cancel its trade shows this Spring, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t go to AXPONA! On Friday April 17th, the day AXPONA would have been held, Nordost took part in the AXPONA Livestream. We were represented by Nordost product trainer and International Sales Manager, Bjorn Bengtsson, who spoke to our good friend and dealer, Bes Nievero at Music Direct. If you missed Bjorn’s interview, you can still see (and share!) it on Facebook, but in case you would rather read your information, here is what we talked about during the Livestream!



Q: What is the state of things with Nordost given the Corona virus?

A: All Nordost retailers are well stocked with Nordost products! We prepared early for some sort of disturbance due to the coronavirus, and since all of our products are made in America, we were able to stock-up all of our retailers before things got serious. We can’t wait for things to get back to normal, but until then, we’re just happy we can still make people’s lives at home a little more bearable by making their hifi systems sound the best they can.  


Q: Many people are using standard interconnects from their turntable to their phono amps. Why is it important to use a dedicated tonearm cable?

A: The task of a dedicated tonearm cable is different from that of a standard interconnect. That mostly has to do with the nature of signals that it transmits. The signal coming from a tonearm cartridge is incredibly small, delicate, and needs a massive amount of amplification—from 100x to as high as 1000x (MM to low output MC). It is very important that this signal being amplified is protected from both internal and external interferences. That kind of protection requires a dedicated cable design.  


Q: How does the new Tonearm Cable + differ from the previous models that Nordost made?

A: Nordost’s tonearm cables have always aimed to protect the delicate signals being transmitted from the cartridge to the phono amp, but now we have expanded our way of doing that to make it even more effective. In the new Tonearm Cable + design, you still get Nordost’s patented technology, combined with solid core silver-plated conductors, and the high bandwidth and low capacitance that is always associated with Nordost, but now they are constructed using twisted-pair conductors making up left and right channels, which are then individually shielded. That way there is no inter-channel interference, and they are also protected from external interferences.  


Q: Why is a group of smaller gauge wire better sounding than a larger core conductor?

A: Actually, a group of smaller gauge wire doesn’t sound better than a larger core conductor. You have a lot of strand interactions with a multi-stranded cable, which is why we choose to use solid core conductors.

Nordost Playlist – April 2020

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.


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


  1. Murphy’s Law—Roisin Murphy—Murphy’s Law
  2. The Expert—Yello—Touch Yello
  3. Broken—Laurie Anderson—Life on a String
  4. SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK—Joji—BALLADS 1
  5. Glass, Concrete & Stone—David Byrne—Grown Backwards
  6. Break My Heart—Dua Lipa—Future Nostalgia
  7. Mille après mille—Isabelle Boulay—Les grands espaces
  8. Tarova—Snarky Puppy—Culcha Vulcha
  9. The Ballad of Bill Hubbard—Roger Waters—Amused to Death
  10.  Fame—Ocie Elliott—In That Room

Questions and Answers: Tonearm Cables

 

With the expansion of the Tonearm Cable + to our Blue Heaven, Heimdall 2, Frey 2, and Tyr 2 ranges, we thought that we would take the opportunity to share some of our most recent and frequently asked questions about tonearm cables!

 


So many turntables come with a fixed tonearm cable. Will an aftermarket tonearm cable really make a difference?

Yes! While many entry-level turntables come with a fixed tonearm cable, that is not the case with most mid-fi and hi-fi turntables, and there is good reason for that! The tonearm cable is the most critical and sensitive cable in a vinyl-sourced hifi system! The delicate signals generated by pick-up cartridges in these systems demand low-capacitance cables in order to protect from signal loss and image smearing. The signals carried by these cables are also very susceptible to EMI and RFI, so shielding and grounding must be a priority. Bottom line: If you are looking for proper performance from your analog system, invest in a purpose-built tonearm cable.

 


I bought a Heimdall 2 tonearm cable a few years ago. Will I be getting anything different if I upgrade to the new Tonearm + Cable?

The new Tonearm Cable + is a complete redesign from our original tonearm cable offerings. The new cables incorporate a twisted pair design, a construction which naturally helps minimize noise. Additionally, we have taken even more steps to eliminate EMI and RFI by individually shielding the left and right channels with silver, braided shielding before wrapping them in an additional layer of braided shielding. The Tonearm Cable + also includes a completely isolated, shielded, silver-plated bond wire which uses our Micro Mono-Filament technology. Lastly, each Tonearm Cable + comes with two, detachable, silver-plated bond whips (again using MMF), which connect to the cable’s shielding in order to totally eliminate any additional noise that could be introduced during signal transfer, no matter the unique construction of the components used in your sound system.

 


How will I know which of the new grounding options to use in my home system?

The grounding needs of your tonearm cable are directly affected by the components in your system, how the manufacturers of those components chose to address grounding, and how those components work together. Because of that, there is unfortunately no easy answer to this question, and some experimenting will be required on your end. To help you through that we have provided you with a step-by-step process in our Tonearm Cable + Instruction Manual.

 


 

Hi-Fi+ Reviews the Purple Flare USB Cable

When Michael Mercer from Hi-Fi+ reviewed Nordost’s Purple Flare USB Cable, he was so impressed that he nominated it for the Digital Audio Cable of the Year (an award that it won, of course!). While the Purple Flare USB Cable is Nordost’s entry-level USB cable, the only thing entry-level about it is its price-point.

“Transparency and coherence are the name of the game with Purple Flare USB. Hi-hats glisten and dissipate effortlessly into a black background. Drums are authoritative and lifelike. Vocals are realistically rendered in size and tonality. Transients race across the soundstage with precision and flare (pun intended). Purple Flare gives you top-tier performance at an incredibly affordable price.” – Michael Mercer, HiFi+

As the only USB cable in Nordost’s line-up to offer Standard A (2.0) or Standard B (2.0) to Mini B (2.0) or Micro B (2.0) termination options, they are the perfect solution for hifi audio enthusiasts trying to accommodate DACs that require micro-B and mini-B connectors!

Michael’s review is available to read here:  Nordost Purple Flare USB Cable

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

Nordost Customer Testimonial

Nordost is always thrilled to receive and share glowing reviews from journalists and experts in the industry. However, when we get testimonials from our devoted and satisfied customers, it means that much more!

Thank you to Rob from Alberta, Canada for sharing how he went from being a cable skeptic to a cable evangelist.


Originally, I was of the thought that cables would not make much of a difference in an audio system, most notably power cables. My spouse and I attended a demonstration at our local audio store (where we had purchased the rest of the pieces for our system), and we were absolutely astonished at the difference we were hearing.

Needless to say, we upgraded our power cables shortly afterward. Probably the best way to put it was that our system had “woken up” and was brought to life in a way that we had not heard before. Crisper, more detailed highs, cleaner bass response…we are very pleased.

We currently are using three Nordost Red Dawn AC Power Cords, and three Nordost Heimdall 2 AC Power Cords on our system, and are in the process of working our way through the rest of the system.”


Rob is a happy customer of Absolute Audio Video.  His system is wired with Heimdall 2 and Red Dawn cables.


Visit our Customer Testimonials page to see what more users like Rob have to say!

 What’s your Nordost story?

Industry Advocate: Elan Mehler

For more than a quarter of a century, Nordost has been renowned for the quality of our products, and the effect that they have on music reproduction. Using Nordost allows listeners to experience music the way it was intended – unrestrained, unfiltered, true. So it should be no surprise that when high fidelity is the goal, Nordost is who you come to for your cabling needs. For professionals in the audio industry, this is no different. Over the years, Nordost has worked with innovative manufacturers, talented artists, and celebrated recording engineers, who all trust Nordost to bring their finished products to the next level.


As an artist, Elan Mehler is amazed at what Nordost’s cables do for the reproduction of his music. Elan is a New York based jazz pianist and composer who has released five records internationally, and has toured throughout the world. In 2015 Elan and his partner, Jean-Christophe Morriseau, started Newvelle Records. Newvelle Records is a an innovative label that produces original, high quality, vinyl recordings, which are distributed as seasonal subscriptions in bi-monthly installments. These six pressings combine to form a box set, which uses curated artwork and writing to create an immersive and affecting experience when paired with music. The response to their work has been overwhelming, both from the artists that they work with and from jazz and hifi reviewers, who have issued an onslaught of positive reviews raving about every aspect of Newvelle, from the integrity of their records, to the quality of artists they feature, to the distribution model that they employ.

What does Elan have to say about Nordost?

“We started Newvelle Records in 2015 with the idea of building a series of records, of all new music, that cut no corners sonically or artistically. We strive to record and release the best sounding records anywhere. We built a model that treats musicians right and uses the full available canvas of vinyl to make something unique and beautiful. We record all of our records in Manhattan’s famed EastSide Sound Studio.

AB testing Nordost’s cables at EastSide Sound was a revelation for me. At Newvelle Records we are committed to bringing the best sound possible to our members. Nordost cables made an immediate impact on the quality of sound we were getting. Additionally, while previewing and testing our vinyl pressings we’ve found that upgrading to Nordost is not a subtle difference. There is an immediacy when you drop the needle that is astounding.”


Elan is a proud user of Nordost’s Ax Angel, pro audio cables.

For more information about Elan, and Newvelle Records, visit www.newvelle-records.com.

Nelson Brill Reviews Afro-Caribbean Performances From His Travels

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 gives you a more of a global look at what is going on in the music world as he covers some recent shows and recordings he discovered on his recent travels!


AFRO-CARIBBEAN MUSIC: SWINGING IN GLOBAL SPIRIT

By Nelson Brill    March 24, 2019  

When I am traveling to a different place, I always like to explore the neighborhoods with local record stores to support local businesses. I like to check out these shops’ record bins for new artists that reflect the music scene in that area. So while I was in London recently, we ventured to nearby Brixton where the UK reggae scene has had a rich history, supported by vibrant immigrant community (where you can get a great Ghanian stew or Ethiopian meal on a Brixton street corner or in one of the town’s many markets).

Brixton Market – citizens.com

I happen upon a small record store in one of these Brixton markets, run by a local legend, Jah Lingua, “Markie”, who is founder of Universal Roots Records [http://www.facebook.com/UniversalRootsRecords] which has been producing recordings from local reggae artists since 1998.

Happy2move

Jah Lingua also hosts “R.D.K. Hi-Fi Dances”, (along with his spouse, Claudia, at her Brixton record store, Pure Vinyl Records) where local reggae artists perform on sound systems set up for dance parties. Jah Lingua passed along to me a copy of his CD, U.K. Reggae Stars [Universal Roots Records] and an LP produced by him in 2018 with selections from local artists with “Brixton Downbeat”, “Gentrification Dub” and other great cuts.

On these Universal Roots LP and CDs are the sounds, among others, of Brixton’s own Soothsayer Horns (a swanking brass ensemble); Sandeeno (a vocalist with an expressive baritone to match his messages of fighting racism and gun violence) and two female vocalists, Marlene Ammers and Judith, both with airy, swaying presences. These gifted artists are surrounded on these excellent recordings by local bandmates who deliver pungent bass lines; creative waves of electronica and dynamic percussion. Reggae’s joyful funk and lift; its warmth and dance and its unflinching social-conscious themes – all are here on these excellent spirited recordings from Universal Roots Records reflecting the diverse Brixton community.

Brixton School children; citizensuk.com

This vital connection between Caribbean and African musical heritages continued when I had the lucky opportunity, on February 23rd, to visit the venerable New York City music venue, The Jazz Standard, (located at 116 East 27th Street; http://www.jazzstandard.com) to catch a dazzling concert by the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, (“SHO”) [http://www.spanishharlemorchestra.com ], a band that delivers their own incendiary mix of cha-cha-cha, mambo and salsa brilliance.

Youtube.com

From their first fiery notes, the SHO proved to be a tight, dynamic band that wasted no time in igniting their propulsive songs drenched in their Puerto Rican heritage. The sound at the Jazz Standard was up to the task as most instruments on the crowded stage were heard clarion and true, with exception of piano and bass, which were a bit harder to hear individually in the heated big band action.

The SHO focused their Jazz Standard performance on numbers taken from their new action-packed recording, Anniversary [ArtistShare], which has just won a Grammy award.

The recording captures the SHO with great energy and upfront crackling presence. While delivering the heat, dance and punch of this swanking band, its sound is on the lean and sometimes thin side (especially on brass crescendos) and does not offer much in the way of layering or depth to its soundstage, so things are a bit congested. But what the recording offers in spades is the stellar musicianship of the band and a feel for their dancing interplay, as well as the jovial spirit of the band’s three fronting vocalists: Marco Bermudez, Carlos Cascante and Jeremy Bosch.

Allaboutjazz.com

At the SHO’s Jazz Standard concert, their three charming vocalists hit the ground running, with the band carousing behind them in soaring strides. Bermudez’s voice is gliding and smooth and it sumptuously drove his suave song, “Echa Pa’Lante”, accompanied by brazen choruses from trumpeters Manuel Ruiz and Hector Colon and driving wooden strikes from Jorge Gonzalez’ resonant guiro. Bosch possesses a lighter, more carefree voice, telling his tales with a spoken quality. On his “Soy El Tambor,” his vocals were complemented by George Delgado’s lilting conga and Luisito Quintero’s punctual timbales.

Gon Bopps

Quintero was a whirling dervish on his timbales all night. He hit explosive wooden cracks by frenetically playing all surfaces of his drums, including hitting the sides of his timbales with his drumsticks sending crackling wooden blasts to the back walls of the Jazz Standard.

On another ballad, Bosch took up his flute and played a dazzling duet with flutist (and baritone saxophonist) Mitch Frohman, layering their spirited high runs and leaping octaves in a shimmer of light colors (that had the crowd roaring their approval).

Congahead

On “Cancion Para Ti,” Frohman’s flute was complimented with lilting chords and touches from Oscar Hernandez’s piano. Hernandez was always at the ready to lend a dancing frolic or the twinkle of a mambo beat. His solo piano ranged far and wide on “Como Te Quise” joined by vocalist Carlos Cascante, whose ardent vocals were steeped in metallic glow from Doug Beavers’ and Noah Bless’ trombones. The SHO built to a final crescendo of brass calls and vocal harmonies, (with cries of “Viva Puerto Rico!” echoing through the capacity crowd). Their final songs swayed on salsa flow, with cowbell and timbales firing on all cylinders to propel intoxicating grooves and dance steps into the night.

This global-minded, (perfectly fused) connection between African and Caribbean music was also at the heart of another astonishing concert that I attended recently in Boston, presented by WorldMusic/CRASHarts, [http://www.worldmusic.org ] a nonprofit arts organization that has brought the richness and diversity of global music to Boston area audiences for many years.

On March 10th, at the historic Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA., WorldMusic/CRASHarts presented a concert by South African guitarist Derek Gripper and his African Strings and Mali’s legendary performer, Habib Koite, accompanied by percussionist, Mama Kone.

Suburban.com

The evening was a feast of acoustic glory. Gripper and his African Strings opened the show, delivering their sultry lightness on guitars, kalimba, kora and on a Ugandan traditional stringed instrument called the endongo. (The endongo was plucked masterfully by Kinobe, a Ugandan musician, who also possessed a beautiful expressive voice). The group’s instrumentals were propelled by Gripper’s classical guitar style, flowing with light percussive touches and crisp nylon string runs. Unfortunately, the sound mix was a bit skewed in that Gripper’s guitar was overly dominant and so it was harder to hear the gentle soft strums of his partners’ instruments. When they could be heard clearly, Jaja Bashengezi’s accompanying guitar was a light caress and Kinobe plied his kora in sparkling fashion, projecting his notes like soft, falling raindrops.

To hear the astonishing expressive character of a kora, take a listen to a favorite audiophile CD that brings together two partners: kora player Ballake Sissoko and cellist Vincent Segal. Their recording is Musique De Nuit [Six Degrees Records] and part of this recording was uniquely made on a rooftop terrace in Bimako, Mali, (with the bleats of goats and rumbling traffic heard below). The recording is superb in its textural detail and its capture of every musical nuance and dynamic flow to this beautiful music. The music is tender, powerful and meditative in its expressive sweep, bringing these two virtuoso players together in supple and heated interplay.

ArtPower

Following the set by Derek Gripper and African Strings, the vivacious Habib Koite took the Somerville Theatre stage and mesmerized his audience with his seamless voice and guitar, working as one vehicle of expressive force and beauty. The sound for this second set was much improved for its clarity, balance and tactile aliveness.

Inyarwanda.com

Koite’s dance of open-hearted lyricism, deep grooves (punctuated by Kone’s thrum on his calabash) and ability to fully inhabit the territory of his songs was exuberant. His voice was a perfect vehicle to express his songs: light-hearted and soaring (with a bit of aging grit up top) on songs of love and hope (including a tribute to “women around the globe”) and then turning powerful and low on his slow brewing blues. Koite’s guitar perfectly partnered with his expressive voice. He utilized open strings; short five-note scale runs (with his capo at the top portion of his guitar for its highest dancing effect) and for his blues numbers,, he let his strings go loose and rumbling to create rubbery low notes (sounding like Jimi Hendrix in his swaggering prime). Koite’s final songs were tight statements of groove and joyful dance with Kone hitting his djembe drum and hi-hat with nimble fury. On these last tunes, Koite strolled through the audience strumming his guitar with light string dampening (to deliver an ebullient dancing beat) accompanied his soaring voice. The audience sang along, swaying in the warm of Koite’s sultry beat.

Returning home after this fantastic World Music/CRASHarts concert, I listened to a favorite new CD from another artist from Mali, Fatoumata Diawara, whose music is also a marvel of expressive, dancing power. On her new recording, Fenfo “Something To Say” [Montuno Productions], Diawara and her superb band deliver all the swirl and snap of their captivating music with spawning energy and joy. The recording beautifully captures all of their stunning musicianship and tactile energy, delivering a soundstage that is wide and deep (if your system is up to it!). Diawara’s voice soars and dips, elegant in phrasing and pitch. She and her band are equally at home in the sway of hip-hop, R & B and pop (such as on their grooving “Nterini” or the lilting pop of “Dibi Bo”) or on their lush ballads, such as the moving “Mama” (which features Diawara in duet with cellist Vincent Segal). The splendor of this recording is a dancing gift to the world, from its African roots to the shimmer of its Caribbean beats and beyond.

The National


If you would like to read more reviews like this one, visit Nelson’s blog at www.bostonconcertreviews.com.