JOE HARLEY’S GOLDEN TONGUE

WHY GOLDEN EARS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Blessed is the Dude that has both a Golden Tongue and Golden Ears,

For He Shall Geteth Down Way Deep With His Bad Self.

by

Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg Mdh.

Guildmeister, The Triode Guild

Clark Johnson and I don’t agree about much, but he is absolutely right in his profoundly simple insight, to wit: The playback arts (us) have advanced much further than the recording arts (them). This type of artistic conundrum gets me so hot that the fires of existential torment sets me into motion. Which is why I have shifted audio directions. I am now deep into the pro market including a recording studio. I have become one of them so I can work from the inside out. I am now a high end audio mole in the recording industry. So is Joe Harley, who six years ago under the aegis of AudioQuest (the cablemeisters) created AudioQuest Music....if more had the courage and talent to make this transition our tribe would be using their Rolexes for hammers.

Joe offered to slaughter two virgin lambs to persuade Dave Robinson to assign me the task of speculating on his upcoming recording session in Bearsville (Woodstock), New York, with the blues master, Joe Beard. Bearsville which is next door to Woodstock is the primal harmonic epicenter of a powerful force that emerged from the earth in summer of 1969 in the Catskill Mountains; the place I used to gambol naked in the woods (when my hair was down to my shoulders) to Jimmy Hendrix during that summer when we all came together. This is the land of St. Dylan, the patron saint of mumblers. Joe Harley, The Juiceman of Audio Quest Music was coming to the roots of my sublime to manifest his vibe. How could I say NO? How could I refuse Dave’s offer of a typical PF $25,000 writing fee, paid in advance in unmarked $10 bills in a big black plastic bag? How could I say NO to Joe Harley Man, the man who once was the mythical gate keeper to an exotic land, and dude that he is... he opened it for me. (Note: There are some things that men share that can not be embraced by words...they are feeble to the task. These type of heroic, dark and fire filled moments of connection, similar to the bonding one experiences on Masai Lion hunts with spears, have no words to define the ineffable nobility that can exist between men........ when they have the courage to get totally down and dance their harmonic. And if you didn’t understand what I just said, then you need to take Whirling Dervish dancing lessons at Fred Astaire). So it was with great excitement that I trekked off to share Joe’s epithpanation of the epiphanosity in the Woodstock woods with music men of amazing grace manifesting the One Harmonic Which is Many...in forms of the red, white and blue jazz. Just give this piece a chance.

GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY.


"Go Ahead Make My Day", is an expression that has become part of our pop lingo culture. Everyone knows what it means, thank you Clint. And that is how I feel about the continuing use and misuse of the term "musical accuracy". So let me make myself plain. Musical Accuracy is exactly like Communism. Both nifty noble ideas whose time has passed. Both are examples of the highest aspirations of mankind, and, how quickly great ideas become obsolete, bleached of relevance. Both ideas have imploded. Both Communism and Musical Accuracy destroyed themselves, victims of the unceasing historical dialectic, i.e...this too shall pass. In other words, it is the orthodoxy of Musical Accuracy which is collapsing and a new ethos of the audio arts is evolving.....I am not yet sure what to call it. Musical Accuracy in today’s dynamic context is the pursuit of those who are blind or terrified of wider expressive possibilities qua exciting new dimensions of thoughts on the audio artification process. A culture diminishes when its core ethos turns to a moldy lump of cheese, and that moldy cheese isn’t transformed into Phoenix the Fondue. Our core ethos, Musical Accuracy God Save the Queen, which served us well for a decade now tastes like a lump of Velveeta with a green beard, and we are dwelling in an in between time of reformation. And my experience with Joe Harley’s recording session was an energetic affirmation of this position.

IT’S ALL ABOUT JUICE

I apologize for reminding you of what you all ready know, but here goes. Music is perfectly ripe fruit. The kind that is ready to plop off the tree, full of fragrance, hot, bursting with the sun’s energy, begging to be squeezed so that it will juice-forth into our mouths, down our throat into our guts, legs, into our testicles, fingers and brain so that music juice is flowing all through our body and makes us dance and tingle and radiate all over....until we are completely filled with the all natural juice of life. Did you understand that because if you don’t, don’t both reading any further because Joe Harley knows how to get the juice out of the blues and store it in a CD. A good juicer is hard to find. How do I know? I was at the recording session and tasted the Harley Man juice, and then a few weeks later I had another taste of the same juice into my living room. Not many are competent at this recording juicification process, because no amount of technical competence can guarantee this JUICE TRANSFER PROCESS. The sina qua hay nony nony of this process is you have to know the taste of music. That’s right...you not only have to have golden ears, you also must have a golden tongue....like Joe.

Now hear comes my fast ball pet bitch about all of those sanctimonious purist recording geeks, which shall remain unnamed. Again, I am not impressed with aural piety, and its dysfunctional goddess, Musical Accuracy. Purity is boring if there is no juice, and perhaps the "purist recording archetype" is allergic to juice, or juice impaired. Who knows why so many of these "do it with one stereo mic types" are so disassociated from the juice? Are they so involved with their technical purity because they suffer with juicephobia, and don’t want us to know?

So when I walk into a barn full of musicians with a chaos of microphones, gobos, blankets....well chaos is the composite of creativity. At Joe’s recording session there was about as much sanctimonious piety as you find in Dennis Hopper’s smile. But as soon as I walked into the space I could smell the real time dewing fragrance of the musical ripeness. The blue fruits were literally dripping with the dew of love, and the fruit squeezers were adjusting the microphones, and they did their job.

As you know jazz and the blues (the harmonic that arises out of black people’s soul) is saving the audio arts from ultimate artistic implosion. It seems to this savvy savant that it is only in this small community that we find a flourishing passion for the quality of the aural arts. The artistic juice imperatives here are spontaneity, authenticity, and tonal whole-osity. It is only in this spectrum of small jazz labels we find a group of producers who are committed to a tradition of the highest quality recordings. There is good reason for this, which would be apparent to you all if you listen to 1950s and 1960s vinyls of the jazz/blues masters, which are considered the concresence of the recording arts (and explains why most of these vinyls now are bathing and eating sushi in Japan). I go on record to state that I have never heard a CD that equals these ancient black magic discs (I ask you, "Have you ever heard a Ben Webster 1954 vinyl?", as I kick sand in your 96K digits) . Here we have a commonly experienced golden standard. And today’s jazz recording artists record in the "be here now" with those masters right there next to them in their juicy soul. It is a tradition of excellence and care. It is a tradition of respect. It is about the harmonic wholiness of the blue holiness. It is the Jazz Meme. It is a harmonic virus that infects our soul. It is contagious. And one of the most outrageous of the contagious is Joe Harley, who is doing nothing more than his job.....keeping the blue flames burning brightly. I can’t emphasize too strongly how important the role of the producer is in ultimate musical quality.

Of course there is no sense in continuing with words, because you should all take a pause and run down to your local record store (or take advantage of the special offer at the end of this article) and pick up Joe Beard featuring Duke Robillard and Friends-For Real/AQ1049 and get down with it. So do that now and then continue reading, because it will make my job so much easier.

WHO SAYS THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MAGIC?

As you know our musical memory is about as accurate as our memory of our sex lives...so what? I know how my whole body felt as I listened to the Joe Beard live in flesh recording sessions. The whole group started to play, and they juicified and they stopped and the whole music event was recorded. The first take, just like the good old days, was a bullseye. This is real time musical whole-osity. Which is nothing at all like a rock and roll Chinese puzzle recording session, which almost never has the energy, spontaneity and wholeness of a jazz recording session because the multi-track rock and roll recording process inherently destroys the juice process. What is the point I am making? The producer, namely Joe, has a job and it is to capture the ineffable quality of the moment; the bombastic whole-osity of the musical event, and this is often captured on the first take. May I translate LESS IS MORE relative to Joe? Joe just gets out of the way and let’s his compendium of blues genius do its thing.

This is the test of a great CD: Can you taste the juice when you push PLAY? Which is why it is important to experience the whole Joe Harley catalog, because you get a clear sense here of how to properly use the audio arts....as servant of passion.

What is so interesting about all of Joe’s CDs is that they create a very hypnotic sense of the physicality of the musicians who did the juicing. Can an aural image in our living room, ten gillion steps removed from the recording session capture the body gyrations of the musicians, the way they physically interact, they way the room smells with cigarette smoke, cologne and burning guitar strings? Like I said there are some things that men share that words can not embrace, and if you want to get down deeper into that phenomenology, again, check out Joe’s recordings.

AMAZING GRACE

Professional musicians are meant to die and be reborn thousands of times a lifetime. They are meant to sleep on beds of nails, walk on burning coal, and to taste the slag of despair. All of this suffering is in service to the music. Let me say this another way...a musician reaches a state of grace when he has become witness to the fire, and still smokes. This is what I call entering a state of musical grace. I recently described this experience when I spent some time with Les Paul and listened to his amazing grace.

This quality of musical grace has a universal modality, and it is the seeming effortlessness from which the magic emerges. It seems so easy. The musical grace seems to just flow...so natural, so graceful, so whole. This may be the secret to Joe Harley’s catalog. It was apparent that each and every member of the Joe Beard group was a master, and even at the highest moments of intensity there was the relaxed mingling of juice, the liquidity of souls flowing together into the one blue harmonic which is many. And according to Joe, that is the key to record producer alchemy....make sure there is chemistry between the musicians and then let them alchemize...which is also the view of Hollywood’s finest directors. This is very Zen and very rare, and right by me, too.

Want my super savvy savant advice for normal types? Spend the money. Buy all of Joe’s forty nine albums.

Here is some advanced advice for that select small group of audiomaniacs who have reached the highest level of spiritual development: When you listen to Joe’s album eat something very juicy.......I prefer the taste of fresh mango, or papaya....but your choice may be different. This immersion in the juicification process helps us dissolve into the universal juice that is flowing through all of us, and is clearly made manifest in all of Joe Harley’s albums. Can I say that another way?: When you and the juice become one, there is only one juice, and we are it. Or as it written in the ancient Book of Alnico: Blessed is the Dude that has both a Golden Tongue and Golden Ears, for He Shall Geteth Down Way Deep With His Bad Self.

 

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