In these days of being able to produce complete and listenable musical tracks all on your own with just ProTools and some reasonable keyboard chops it is incredibly refreshing to be in a studio session with six guys who can read anything put in front of them, swing hard, and have 25 years of good taste built in to their playing. Over the last two days I produced 9 tracks for the singer Dick Kaufmann. We played almost entirely live… ie everyone playing at once. with only one( I think) overdub. Everyone was playing great. In tune. Accurately. And the attention to detail was wonderful. Playing all the dynamic markings, the length of notes was carefully considered. It was great to hear the question: Do you want us off on “1” or the ” and of 4?” . I wonder if everyone appreciates this sort of stylish competence nowadays. I must sound like a very old dude to be talking like this. But as all of you who follow this blog ( 3) know, my heart and my soul are locked in a time-warp landing me squarely ( or very hipply) in Capitol Recording Studios in 1962. Last night’s session sounded like a small group June Christy session. I have a record called “June’s got Rhythm that is beautiful collection of playing, singing and recording. Every one of the musicians from last night play just as well as the players on that date. Tommy Barrick on drums….. Shelley Mann has got nothing on him ( except for maybe a cooler name) Pete Ostle on bass did not scratch a note in two days of playing. Tom Williams on trumpet was just beautiful. Jeff Gray’s tenor sax and clarinet work was superb. And notably, their ensemble playing was right in tune. I played the piano parts and felt like I couldn’t miss with a rhythm section like Tommy and Pete swinging away . Jerry Lynn on guitar added the perfect Freddie Green chug to it all.
We are all going to be playing with Dick in the Fall. I’ll keep you posted.
What an amazing time that was. To be 9 years old. You are generally allowed, even encouraged , to occasionally be as enthusiastic and as loud as you can possibly be.
The North Chevy Chase Elementary 4th grade invited me back to listen to them sing ” 43 Good Excuses”. This time I came prepared. Sue and her trusty flip cam came along. The video is sooooooo cute. Their teacher, Jacqui, is incredibly cool. And they respond by being the hippest little people on the planet. My own memories of 4th grade revolve around Mrs. Blackburn at Maury Elementary, who referred to me only “Loudmouth” for the entire year. Happily, that singular trait of being VERY LOUD, has been part and parcel of my entire career. It has at times made a broken PA a non-event. It has made public speaking an easy thing for me to do. It has gotten the quick attention of three unruly children. And it made me unconditionally love the sound of a Marshall stack turned up to ‘pulverize’.
Chuck Brown passed away yesterday. He was immensely important to so many people. He has been a part of Washington DC’s musical character ever since I moved here and I can’t imagine this town without him.
I had a few chances to work with him and even hang out with him. I feel fortunate to have been in the room while he recorded “Mellow Saxophone” for Pete Ostle’s A La Carte Brass Band. I have a video of him singing Stormy Monday with just him singing and me on piano. I was lucky enough to spend some time at his house and eat a fried chicken dinner ( maybe the best ever) and drink Courvoisier Cognac with him. He was truly a man of the people. A terrific musician. An original. I am going to miss having him in our lives.
Last Friday I was part of the Q & A panel that followed the screening of “Follow Me”. I was with Dave Goulding, the cinematographer and David Grossbach, the editor. Thank God they were there. I always forget this… there are never any questions about the film making process. There are only questions about content. The two Dave’s were well equipped for all the questions. My advice for all composers thrust into such situations: be prepared to simply sit there and nod knowingly as better informed parties answer questions.
Just so you know: we had an orchestra of 25. I conducted. It took two days to record all the live tracks. And two days to mix. The synth tracks were already finished by the time tracking started. We recorded at Cue Recording in Falls Church in the “Red Room”. If you are truly curious, I can tell you some of the mics we used. Nothing exotic though, the usual collection of Neumans, Sennheisers, Royers etc. There, I feel better.