Bill Evans on a Denon DP-2000 Turntable

Monster Cable Alpha 1 moving coil phono cartridge, missing the stylus
Monster Cable Alpha 1 Cartridge, missing stylus

The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience.”

– Alex Gregory, in The New Yorker.

The last integrated amplifier I had that had a phono input was a NAD 3020. I gave it away one of the times that I moved because I had two or three other amps.

I still have a Denon DP-2000 turntable that I got from Kenny sometime in the 1980’s. There’s a Monster Cable Alpha 1 cartridge mounted on the Denon DA-50 tonearm. The Alpha 1 is a low output moving coil cartridge (0.3 mv), so Kenny also bought a SOTA Head Amplifier. Such is the era of my HiFi equipment.

When I thought about setting up the Denon with my NAD 317, I tried to take a closer look at the condition of the stylus of the Apha 1. There wasn’t one. Through years of moving the turntable, even with the tonearm tied down to the arm rest, the stylus had disappeared. (“That’s why we can’t have nice things.”)

Even the idea of low end high end stereo components has lost its interest. I bought an Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge. When I attempted to mount it on the Denon headshell, the Ortofon cartridge was too wide. I bought an Ortofon SH-4 headshell.

The NAD 317 doesn’t have a built-in phono stage, so I needed a phono preamplifier. After a little research, I settled on the ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier.

After finally getting everything to work, the sound was a revelation. I have been listening to streaming audio (Google Play, SiriusXM, Spotify) through a Sonos One. The sound always seemed compressed or canned – maybe the electronic processing to get the sound out of that little speaker bothers me. In comparison, the sound out of the NAD, Denon and KEF RDM Two speakers (SP3254) is clear, open and deep.

Though that Alex Gordon New Yorker cartoon is often quoted by cynics and audiophiles, the sonic results do seem to be worth it.

Bill Evans - Montreaux II record album playing on a Denon DP-2000 turntable
Bill Evans – Montreaux II record album playing on a Denon DP-2000 turntable

Pharoah Sanders at Yoshi’s

Pharoah Sanders at Yoshi's, November 29, 2019, with Benito Gonzales, Tabari Lake & Marvin Smitty Smith
Pharoah Sanders at Yoshi’s, November 29, 2019, with Benito Gonzales, Tabari Lake & Marvin Smitty Smith

The first time I saw Pharoah Sanders, he was performing live at Seventh Avenue South, the Brecker brothers’ jazz club in Greenwich Village. That was probably 40 years ago.

I’ve pretty much gone to see him every chance I had in New York Jazz clubs, probably at Sweet Basil, Fat Tuesday’s, the Blue Note, Lush Life, the Village Vanguard, the Village Gate, Seventh Avenue South, Iridium, et al and lately at Yoshi’s in Oakland and SF Jazz.

It’s Nice To Have A Budding Louis Armstrong In The Building

USCGC Eagle, Operation Sail (1976) Parade of Ships
USCGC Eagle, Operation Sail (1976) Parade of Ships

I was a fledgling photographer the year of United States Bicentennial. On July 4th, 1976, I photographed Operation Sail, which had 16 tall ships sailing into New York harbor. I sold my first photograph (more correctly, my picture agent, Contact Press Images, sold my first photograph) to the Brazilian magazine, Manchete, which they used as a full page in their OpSail story.

With the funds from the sale of that photograph, I bought a fluegelhorn. I had taken trumpet lessons in grammar school, but when it came down to a bike or a trumpet, I opted for the former.

In 1976, I lived in a brownstone on W. 76th St and as a courtesy to my neighbors, I posted a notice by the mailboxes asking when was the best time for me to practice. Of course, there were a lot of “Never” responses, but someone wrote, “Anytime. It’s nice to have a budding Louis Armstrong in the building.”

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