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The Making of the "Holy Grail" Recording (BNR-231)

Guitar porn.  That’s where it all started.  When some (perhaps most) men of a certain age awake in the middle of the night and have trouble falling to sleep again, they “surf the net.”  Me too, but my focal net surfing interest since 1983 (when the internet came into view) has been vintage guitars.  It only took me until October 2005 to find the one I absolutely had to have.

It was listed on the vendor’s site as “1987 Monteleone Django Style Selmer Design, Serial #125.”  In case you don’t know, Mr. Monteleone (John from now on) was and still is one of the most well-respected luthiers in the world.  The extended description on the vendor’s site claimed that John had made the guitar with help and wise counsel from Mario Maccaferri.  I mean THE Mario Maccaferri (hereinafter, “Mario”), the man who designed and supervised the making of  the famous Selmer-Maccaferri model guitars sold between 1932 and 1933 (see “The Story of Selmer Maccaferri Guitars), by Francois Charle”, 1995, 2008 eds).

Fast forward to 2005.   How did John, who lived in New York, and Mario, who reportedly lived in France, work together on Monteleone Hot Club Django Ser. No. 125 in New York in the mid-1980s?  Ever the skeptic, I called John and asked him (long story there too).  He told me he’d heard that Mario was living in New York then, too.  Sure enough, he found an entry for “M. Maccaferri” in the phone book, called him, and the two of them started what became a wonderful friendship.  As it progressed, John told Mario he’d always wanted to build a Selmer-style gypsy guitar for himself, and asked Mario if he’d help.  You know the result --- it was the 1987 Monteleone Django Style Selmer Design, Serial #125.”

Fast forward to 2023.  I now own  the 1987 Monteleone Django Style Selmer Guitar, Serial #125.  I also now own and operate Blue Night Records (BNR).  One of my former students in De Paul University’s MBA Program is BNR recording artist Dario Napoli, a world-class gypsy guitarist now living in Milan, Italy.

You can probably guess what came next.  With the two other members of his group Dario Napoli Trio, Tommaso Papini - Rhythm Guitar and Tonino De Sensi - bass guitar, Engineer Andrea Lambertucci, photographer Fabiana Toppia Nervi, myself, and the guitar that has now been officially dubbed as the HOLY GRAIL we began recording Holy Grail (BNR-231) at Blue Spirit Studios in Milan on September 26, 2023.  I should add that Dario composed all eleven of the instrumental tracks on the project, including Mario’s Dream (dedicated to Mario) and The Chisels Are Calling (dedicated to John).

Far from being finished, the rough masters were sent electronically to the U.S., where sound engineer Steve Rashid and I mixed all of the tracks at Woodside Avenue Music Productions in Evanston, Illinois.  It took us three days.  Steve then sent the mixed music files to Engineer Eric Uglum at New Wine Sound Studios and Mastering Lab in Apple Valley, CA.  After mastering the project (e.g., adding BNR-issued ISRC codes, putting the tracks in the sequence BNR established, rechecking volume levels, etc.), Eric sent the mastered music files to Bison Disc in Orlando, FL for manufacturing.

Meanwhile, our Milan, Italy designer Gustavo Messias worked with the technicians at Bison and me about various design matters.  Milan photographer Fabiana Toppia Nervi was heavily immersed in those discussions as well.  All three of us proofed the project several times, including John’s liner notes, my liner notes, and the many gorgeous photographs (some of John and Mario together in the 1980s, some more contemporary shots of John in his studio, and even some of Mario playing various guitars in earlier days). The digipak features a 16-page booklet inside --- which we also had to proof many times.

So now (May 2024) we’re in the manufacturing process at Bison, and we expect to have the finished product here at BNR Central in Illinois in a couple of weeks, ready to ship or otherwise provide for the downloading and streaming of HOLY GRAIL to you many sophisticated audiophiles out there.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all there is to it!



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