Thursday, March 09, 2006

Past the Tipping Point

Tuesday, March 7. My horns came in. (Insert tacky and tasteless ethnic joke here).

Started the day with Norm Tischler. If you know Norm, you know that’s a helluva way to start the day. He’s a ball of energy…or something. I kid. I’m not saying anything here that I wouldn’t say directly to Norm. He is a great guy and one absolutely terrific horn player.

David wrote a horn arrangement for Let it Burn and needed a low horn, like a trombone. Norm had not played trombone for years, but he borrowed one (a huge thank you to Academy Music. Sorry, no web site to point you to.) and came in ready to read the chart. He did pretty well. Sax is his main instrument and he’s the kind of player that can hear a piece once and know what to do. He’ll also give you what you want. You can say “give me a little David Sanborn” or “play it like Clarence Clemence” and he’ll give it to you. It took him about an hour to get the charts right for Let it Burn (that comes down to about a minute and a half’s worth of music) but he nailed the two sax solos in about two takes each. We’ve got sax solos in Light and Haruach. We just let him have at them and he was awesome.

Then Norm hung around for no apparent reason and ate our pizza.

Just kidding.

He ate the garlic bread.

(Which he bought.)

Just giving Norm a hard time. He loves it.

Time for an Ed Ridley session. He came in at 1:00 and was only available until 3:00. It was a little frustrating because we were having some technical problems with the keyboard and the interface (or some technical word like that. It has to do with how the electric keyboard was reacting, or not reacting, to the computer program). We lost about an hour of Ed’s time, and Ed’s time is so valuable (to me) because it’s so limited and he’s so good. We only had him booked for one more hour and a half session, but he graciously agreed to come on Friday from 10 – 3. We should be able to finish up with him then. Thank you Ed.

Here’s a little more behind the scenes with the piano problem. (I want to keep this blog relatively positive and upbeat while still touching on the realities of tedium, frustrations and setbacks while trying to create a beautiful, seamless product. It is not my intention to cast doubt or blame on any company or individual. Everyone’s been great). There is a beautiful baby grand in the studio. That is our preference to use for acoustic piano parts. However, while it’s not badly out of tune, we’ve been waiting for the piano tuner to call back. We didn’t want to start piano sessions until the piano had been tuned (perfection, remember?). So, with Ed in the studio, and the piano not tuned, we went to plan B – the electric, weighted keyboard (weighted keys that react like real piano keys to the touch) with some kind of MIDI software. It wasn’t working properly. Something to do with the polyphony. (I checked. Polyphony is legal in Ohio). Anyway, we went to the baby grand. It has a great sound and was not too out of tune to our ears. Recording technology, specifically the software, is completely amazing these days. Within this software, called Pro Tools, there is something called an auto tuner. You can put it on any track and it will tune all of the pitches to where they are supposed to be. Even on a vocal track. (Now you know how people who can’t and don’t sing well and shouldn’t be famous except that they look good get where they are. (I won’t mention any names, but the initials that come to mind are Brittany Spears. Oops (I did it again). I hope I don’t get sued. But I’ll challenge them to play a raw vocal track in court.) What I’m getting at, however, is, we’ll put the auto tuner on the piano once it’s all recorded to insure that its pitch is perfect. I don’t think it’s cheating. Ed plays so beautifully. It’s just like tuning the piano, but after the fact.

We worked on some of the lead vocals until Mark Freiman came in and did some trumpet parts. He, as always, was terrific, both his playing and to work with.

We are almost done with all of the instrumental tracks! Vocals remain and I’m still trying to line up some vocalists. More about vocals next blog.

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