In the coming weeks will be writing about the musicians who contributed to the making of the Ripples album, but here I want to give a shout-out to all the other folks whose work on producing the album was essential to bringing it to fruition.
If I won the lottery, I suspect one of the first things I would do is buy a cot and find an out-of-the-way space at Systems Two in Brooklyn in which to take up residence so that I could record there all the time. Do you think the Marcianos would mind?
In all seriousness, Systems Two (click here) is my favorite recording room ever, and the sessions with the Trio and with the Jazz Samaritan Alliance represented my first time back there since the Patch Kit sessions in 2002. The Steinway there is one of my favorite instruments on the planet, and for the latter session I primarily played the Hammond C3 organ there, the same one used on the 1960s classic psychedelic rock tune “In A Gadda Da Vida.” The room sounds amazing and there is a ton of great gear, but the key is the wizardry of the engineers, brothers Joe and Mike Marciano, who know how to capture the warmest, most vibrant sounds possible. Add the good vibes of Nancy Marciano, who runs things behind the scenes and recording there is as inviting as it is productive. Any jazz musician knows of the work they do and any serious fans of jazz produced in recent years invariably have a healthy representation of Systems Two in their collections whether they realize it or not.
Some additional recording was done elsewhere, also with good results. Spin Studios (click here) in Long Island City, Queens (a recommendation of cellist Dave Eggar) was the site for the chamber ensemble recordings. Nik Chinboukas did a fabulous job of getting the winds and springs on tape. If not for the lovely piano at Systems Two, I might have been tempted to get my rock music geek action on still further, as they have the Yamaha grand previously used in Todd Rundgren’s studio (I did get to rock some “I Saw the Light” between takes, but I don’t think anyone got the reference). James Schoen’s JBS Studio in White Plains (click here), meanwhile, was the site for the vocal overdubs, which were the finishing touches recording-wise.
If I had to vote for an MVP, that would have to be Justin Kurtz of Laurel Hill Studio (click here). Also chair of the Music Production and Technology department at the Hartt School of Music, Justin has been a friend and colleague for years, and he is responsible for the recording of my previous album, Turtle Steps. For this project he took on the editing and the mixing, and the level of expertise and attention he brought to this music was overwhelming. Most of the tunes on the album are texturally dense, often using comparatively uncommon instrumentations and thus requiring intense scrutiny to make all the sounds to be properly audible, yet to blend appropriately. I can safely say this project wouldn’t be what it is without Justin. The finishing touches, meanwhile, came at the capable hands of mastering engineer Alan Silverman of Arf! Mastering (click here). “Capable” doesn’t do proper justice to his artistry – both my colleagues’ referrals and the work I have heard him do on other albums led me to have very high expectations that he would add power and luster to the music in this final stage, and he did not disappoint.
I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the visual component. The masterful artist David Schorr (click here), a faculty member at Wesleyan University, is also a brilliant graphic designer with an unusual degree of artistry in the presentation of text. When he agreed to design the CD packaging I nearly fell off my seat, and in the end his grace and enthusiasm were exceeded only by the elegance of his work. Due to his travels, he passed along the final stage of graphic preparation to another vital member of the Wesleyan arts community, John Elmore, Art Director for the Center for the Arts. John’s skill and attention to detail ensured that everything was as it needed to be in the end. Oh yeah, and the cover art, a painting by Kate Ten Eyck (aka wifey) (click here) is pretty stunning too, I must say.
One of the biggest treats for me as a musician, composer and bandleader is when I can simply focus on the music itself and trust that all the “other stuff” is being capably taken care of. On this project I had the consistent good fortune of enjoying precisely that scenario, and boy am I grateful!
Re-posted from resonantmotion.org