I’ve been arranging three arias for San Francisco soprano Andrea Plamondon, an artist in many genres whose voice has been called “both atmospheric and entrancing.” In December, we’ll record these three operatic works with full orchestra as part of her forthcoming album. The best musical surprise for me has been Andrea’s choice of the song “Nella Fantasia.” It is actually a film cue written by the famous composer Ennio Morricone for the 1986 drama The Mission. Chiara Ferraù wrote lyrics to it, and it is beautiful. I can’t thank Andrea enough for introducing me to this wonderful piece of music.
As you may know, I am the musical director for Gia Mora, the brilliant writer and producer of a one-woman cabaret show called Einstein’s Girl. In this show, Gia has managed to take the latest concepts in theoretical physics, the Big Bang, and the experience of falling in love, and come up with a unified theory that ties them all together. We have been performing the show coast to coast, garnering rave reviews (including perhaps the only ink I’ll ever get in Scientific American). We will be back in New York at the Metropolitan Room this Saturday, October 12th. Then on Friday, October 18th, we’re playing in my hometown: Easton, Pennsylvania. If you come, please introduce yourself! By the way, the CD of the show is out on my label, Modern Songbook Records.
The CMJ jazz chart, which tracks airplay on college, NPR, and community radio stations, has embraced the new album by my band Chaise Lounge, Dot Dot Dot. We debuted at number 23 last week, and this week we were up to number 12! I don’t think we will be challenging Miley Cyrus’s place in the pop pantheon, but it is nice to know that there are spots win the world where people are listening to music like this.
Three weeks ago, I had no idea that a television show called Royal Pains existed. It is a dramedy on the USA Network, and it’s one of the highest-rated shows on cable! Shows how much I know. But I got a call from one of the producers, and for the past two weeks I have been engrossed in writing a song for a webisode starring and directed by actor Paulo Costanzo, who plays businessman Evan R. Lawson on the program.
This has been an extremely satisfying television experience. First of all, the producers are smart and effective—not something you can take for granted in any business. Secondly, the cast is amazingly down-to-earth. Many of them sang on this piece, even though none except Paulo and Reshma Shetty (who plays physician’s assistant Divya Katdare) are trained singers. Still, they gave some terrific performances. And it has been great fun collaborating with Paolo, who had a very strong vision for the webisode and the song. I’m used to being a lone wolf when I write, and it was refreshing to try to put myself inside someone else’s head and channel what they were hearing.
The recording sessions all took place at Soundtrack studios in NYC, where the engineers were super sharp and seemed truly hungry to work on music. It turns out that 99% of their work is “production work,” i.e., overdubbing (also called ADR), sound effects, etc. One of the engineers confided to me that the reason he got into audio engineering was to record music. Hmmm? I was under the impression that all audio engineers got into the business for that.
When giving me a tour of Soundtrack, the engineers were quick to point out the spaces that used to be big rooms for recording orchestras. Now they are cut up into small production rooms. Pity. Their “big” room is smaller than Studio A at Cue Recording in Falls Church, the studio where I spend so much time. Still, the recording experience was wonderful. I mixed down the song (with the help of one of my go-to guys at Cue), and they are going into production on their dream-sequence music video for the web. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when they are done!
Another benefit: Now I know about Royal Pains. It is an entertaining, mile-a-minute show. Beautifully shot. Strong acting. Intriguing story lines. I’m hooked.