Sunday, April 21, 2013

Producing Chick Corea

Producing this recording was a complex equation. Two masters - Wynton and Chick, (each with an established vision) a 56 input protools session with 16 musicians in the same room, no headphones, no acoustic separation, each piece requiring something different to make it a true classic. Whew!

Like Wyntons epic masterpiece VITORIA SUITE (Universal US) it took a year in post.


To make a truly outstanding recording one must be relentless in the pursuit of excellence.

Be willing to do anything - no matter how unorthodox - willing to ferret out corrections in performance, or limitations of the recording, or limitations in mic position and limitations of the recording medium itself - everything should be taken into account. 

It's a creative and intellectual challenge to push anything "beyond expectation". But, if you keep chipping away at it, then a cumulative effect will eventually lead you to a highly evolved piece of art steeped with a sense of magic. 

Personally, I love to create a kind of cinematic audio landscape. Wide screen when needed and mono also when needed.  A landscape where the listener feels they are on a crane with a zoom lens like a hollywood film. Where their minds can move close for a detailed look at any particular instrument and if they wish, move back to encompass the full band .

During every project I constantly ask - what about it will make this recording timeless? - what will make this recording forward thinking? - what will make this recording a classic? What is the vision? how can I facilitate the artists vision, then go farther to create something beyond expectation?

The resulting analysis, the "vision", and the decisions from these questions become implemented at the beginning of the whole process. The rest of everything is following that vision doggedly to make it a reality. Protecting it that vision along the way from criticism, nay sayers who cant hear the difference or question the process or by their very nature cant listen to something a million times without being frustrated and giving up.

My engineers in "THE TEAM" know my saying by heart. "It takes extraordinary effort to make extraordinary art". Thats what we always do and thats what we have to do. We have practice being excellent..

The question of mixing then becomes a philosophical one which reaches into the very nature of how we live our lives and what is important to our existence - in essence it becomes a spiritual quest for high excellence in all aspects.  - Jedi Master

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dr Johns Demos

Dr John (who I love) gave me a box of his personal song idea demos to transfer to ipod. When I took the box from his house I was scared. Mac is a national treasure. I've been listening to him since I was a kid. He is a true artist and a brilliant musician. His style is undefinable. Its on beat and off beat at the same time. It's got "flavah" like good grease in a well prepared meal.

Being asked to transfer Macs personal demos is a supreme honor. Its like being entrusted with a chest of gold nuggets. It was scary to hold the box of tapes considering the years of work embodied in it.

Mac is one of the most hard working people I know. He is always writing. He made these demos working long hours in between road trips. He would come off the road and call me because he had forgotten how to turn on the equipment and boot pro-tools. I spent many hours pulled over to the side of the road in my car helping him get out of a technical corner he painted himself into.

For me that is real love. Its very very difficult to talk a person through computer software problems when they are not computer savvy. I had to tell him that he should relate to the mouse like a thing on a ouija board. Being Mac he got it immediately once I said that.

I've worked my way through the first half of Dat tapes and I'm at song number 250. Each song more is interesting than the last. Some tapes are rough mixes from record he's done. Most have his personal demos where he plays all the instruments. They are all beautiful. I see them for what they are, sketches, blueprints from master like Leonardo Di Vinci. A master songwriter who has been making records since the 50's.

His craft. His special talent. His soul and its inner beauty. He worked doggedly to make these recording and it is my job to compile them and catalog them in a way that makes sense.

Nearly every legendary rock and roll moment I mention, not only does he know about it, he was personally there. Its a gift to know him and work with him. Its a bigger gift to have his attention, his respect, and his friendship.

I remember talking to John Hammond Sr. during a demo session I engineered right after he finished producing Stevie Ray Vaughns "Double Trouble" I was young and mentioned how I noticed the advances in recording technology as I grew up listening to classic pop recordings. (this was long before the world became pro tools jockeys) I spoke about 4 track, 8 track recordings and the great difference when the standard moved to 16 track and 24 track.

He looked at me and laughed. He told me that he remembered "making records before electric motors". I couldn't even guess how that was done. When I looked completely stumped he explained "we took a counter weight and dropped it down a shaft. The weight was hooked up to a mechanical linkage with a governor to keep a constant speed and on a turn table that had wax on it" I thought about John Hammond when I read an article about how musicians were paid by "repetition" before record duplication was perfected.

I was drawn to Dr John in a spiritual way. Now I know why. He has taught me a lot in a kind manner. My kindness showing him how to operate a small pro-tools rig turned into a Grammy this year. He has given me more than I could ever give him in that. I am blessed. - Jedi Master

Tuesday, February 24, 2009