September 2009 Archives

If you love live music, you have to visit Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London before you die.

I had the pleasure and privilege to watch Claire Martin perform her new album, A Modern Art, at Ronnie Scott's this week. It was absolutely bucketing down with rain in London, but Ronnie's was packed. It's such an intimate venue - low ceiling, seats crammed together - that there is an easy rapport between the artist and the audience, and also seemingly a rapport within the audience.

Claire played this intimate atmosphere to its full potential. This was a masterclass in holding an audience in the palm of your hand. She oozes class. Her voice is a finely-honed musical instrument and seeing her live makes you realise how much thought and effort goes into her every expression.

We've worked with Claire for 17 years so far; she's one of the jewels in the crown of Linn Records and she just keeps getting better. 

And did I mention that I got a kiss on the cheek from her afterwards? OK I admit it, I'm in love.

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The official launch of Mark Moraghan's jazz swing project, Moonlight's Back In Style, took place at London's Leicester Square Theatre this week, and I managed to take this blurry, unlicensed photo with my mobile phone.

Mark's the blur a third of the way in from the left. As you can (kind of) see, he was backed by a full swing band with an impressive brass section giving off a really big sound and creating a party atmosphere.

The combination of Mark's characterful voice and intelligent songwriting by Nicky Campbell shows that crooning can be modern, stylish and witty, and the genre has more to give an audience than simply more rehashes of the old standards. Mark and the band performed the full album of original songs, and some well-chosen covers were a bonus, particularly "I've Got You Under My Skin". 

Although Mark is primarily known for his acting talents in the UK (Brookside, Holby City), singing is now his focus, and if I had a voice like him, it would be mine too! 

Moonlight's Back In Style is available on Linn Records at Studio Master quality.
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Here I am at Aux Fins Gourmets, a wine merchant in Bodenheim, Germany, specialising in French wines.

This was Day One of the Klangstudio Sommerfest 2009, celebrating 30 years of the Linn retailer Klangstudio Pohl, run to an exceptional standard by Rainer and Margret Pohl.

You can see me standing in front of a Linn Klimax System, and Thomas Saheicha, Linn's European Sales Manager, to the left of the picture demonstrating Klimax DS with and without the new Dynamik Power Supply. 

The setting was unusual for a hi-fi demonstration, the Klimax System in amongst magnificent Bordeaux wine, and this created a magical atmosphere, helped by a never-ending supply of wine for the 80 to 100 guests to enjoy. Fine wine and fine music go together perfectly.

Because the audience comprised many non-audiophiles, I decided on a different approach to the traditional Linn TuneDem. To start with, I told the story of my recent visit to a recording session of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to learn how Linn's investment in new recording equipment and techniques was improving the quality of our recorded music. And I explained how with Linn DS it is possible for our customers to enjoy unfettered access to higher quality source material, which in turn stimulates those on the recording side to up their game. Then I played the entire Studio Master of the Emperor Concerto, from Beethoven's Piano Concertos 3, 4 & 5 by the SCO with Artur Pizzaro on piano, the first of Linn's recordings made with our new recording system. Many people closed their eyes, imagining themselves at the recording session (at least I think that's what they were doing, though some may have over-indulged on the fine wine).

I used the same recording to compare the Klimax DS with and without Dynamik. Because many people present had never made such a comparison before, I found myself asking the question: "Which is the better Artur Pizzaro?" in order to help the audience engage in active listening. By following a short snippet of the main piano melody through the concerto, most people could easily discern the musical improvement yielded by the Dynamik. And it allowed me to focus on music, rather than hi-fi, with an audience of non-hi-fi buffs.

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Day Two of the Sommerfest was held at the Klangstudio (sound studio) of Rainer and Margret Pohl.

This picture shows Rainer's surprise at receiving a gift of a Linn Radikal for his LP12, our thanks for 30 years in business.

There was a fantastic turnout of family, friends and great customers to enjoy the live music, jumbo german hotdogs and sunny weather.