(In Came) Love, So Silent: An In-Depth Look at the Recording Project
Welcome to my first Kickstarter collaborative funding project. I am seeking to complete my first recording of original music. This past June, as shown in this video, I recorded six of ten compositions in LA with a phenomenal group of musicians including Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Darek Oles, Alan Pasqua and Mike Miller. I have also had the good fortune of collaborating with producer, Jimmy Haslip and arranger, Ayn Inserto.
While there are many more people to thank for their support, this project is not even a third of the way finished. I still need to record a four-part suite which will require a chamber group consisting of woodwinds, strings, percussion and vocals to accompany my solo guitar and piano performances for the first three parts of the suite. For the final part of the suite, I will need a full complement of horns, reeds and brass to accompany a stellar rhythm section, including Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip and Peter Erskine.
The musical goal is to finish the tracking in two sessions in October, just after the completion of this Kickstarter project.The first session will take place in the famed WGBH Fraser recording studio here in Boston on Sunday, October 14. The final session will take place on Thursday, October 18 at Big City Recording Studio in LA, the same one you see in this film, under the watchful eyes and ears of owner/engineer Paul Tavenner and the masterful supervision of Rich Breen, who is also slated to do the final mixing and mastering sessions.
The Back Story
This recording started as a sabbatical project from my teaching life at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Originally contracted as a duo recording of improvisational music for piano and guitar, this project grew into the larger ensemble format presented here. When it became clear last fall that the duo recording might not happen according to the original plan, I decided to look into the compositional possibilities for a similar recording. As things progressed, I realized that I could put together enough original music to consider another type of recording. Once I discovered that the great bassist and accomplished producer, Jimmy Haslip, was interested in collaborating on this project, I began getting serious about the writing aspect.
I contacted my former student and Latin Grammy award-winning engineer, Gael Hedding, to book some time with him in his Cancun-based home studio to write and create some pre-production demos to send to Jimmy. Initially, I had prepared fifteen pieces of music including two unrecorded compositions and arrangements by pianist and Berklee colleague, Tony Germain, plus my own compositions and a second suite of my arrangements of standards. Throughout the pre-production process, Jimmy started to steer me toward the importance of putting forth an entire recording of only my original compositions…and so it began.
I spent six weeks in Cancun working with Gael on getting some basic piano demos of the music recorded and mixed during January and early February. We literally worked around the clock on the music and recording with only a few forays to the beach, islands and into the jungle down south…all in all a productive trip with a small bit of rest & relaxation sprinkled in. It was during a trip to Isla Mujeres where one of the new pieces of music found inspiration and eventual completion. As well, the final piece of the suite's puzzle, Part 3: Lullaby, was realized as an improvisation one late night and later recomposed to include transitional material into Part 4.
Preparing For LA
After working on production issues with Jimmy over a couple of months, that included discussing what musicians to seek out, the appropriate studio venues, budgeting, musical decisions, and time frame, we found ourselves at the beginning of April with no arranger to help with orchestration on the project. I contacted my colleague, Ayn Inserto, in the hopes she would agree to become involved in the project. By the time it happened that we could meet, Ayn was approaching final exam/project weeks at two different schools, completing her own writing commissions and, of all things, preparing for her own wedding in June! Still, she agreed to work on my music.
Within this constricted time frame, Ayn and I were able to collaborate together toward the finished arrangements of my compositions. She worked tirelessly, even though she also had to travel for the college for an audition tour in Puerto Rico, and completed the first six charts and parts in time for the LA session on June 11-13. Her ability to complement my writing with great counter melody and soli parts, as well as getting the sound and feel that I was hearing was remarkable. It is easy to understand why she was considered a protege by the late, great musician/composer Bob Brookmeyer…Ayn is a major talent.
The Unexpected: LA Recording Session #1
Not long before my departure to LA, I discovered that my summer teaching schedule would be substantially reduced, greatly compromising my budget plans. This forced me to realize that I would have little time to search for alternative sources of income while immersing myself in this recording project. At around the same time, I learned that the suite would not be able to get recorded during this first recording session because of its mostly non-improvisational nature and our studio time constraints. What to do?
I conferred with Jimmy Haslip and Alan Pasqua about alternative tracks to the suite. Jimmy still insisted on sticking to original music only, while Alan kindly went over some of my "less than standard" reharmonizations and arrangements of standards. We all agreed that the best musical solution was to concentrate on my original compositions. However, this meant I would have to start planning on at least one additional recording session. Unfortunately, the first LA session was all that was slated in my current budget.
Regardless, the tracking went well and the contributions to my music by all involved, from musicians to engineers to producers and even visitors, resulted in a relaxed atmosphere and clear statement of musical ideas, both in the interpretation and improvisation aspects of my music. I had to pinch myself more than a couple of times as a reminder that somehow, without discussing it together, Jimmy and I had the identical personnel in mind for this recording. So, I was in a bit of shock that they had all agreed and were assembled to record my music!
From This Point Forward
I have less than a month to raise enough funds to complete both recording sessions, the first scheduled for Sunday, October 14 at the famed WGBH Fraser Recording Studio here in Boston. We are hoping to record the first three parts of the suite in one afternoon, which are written in a more chamber music style and scored for guitar/piano, soprano, violin, viola, cello and bass, with flute, alto flute, English horn, Bb clarinet, bassoon and glockenspiel. I will also fly the Mystics Creative film crew in from Texas to aid in the creation of a documentary film on the making of (In Came) Love, So Silent.
Update (10/4/12): I have booked the WGBH studio to record the Suite (Parts 1-3) and hired the most amazing and talented, world-class Boston musicians, as well as my special guest from Paris, harpist, Isabelle Olivier! Please consider the VIP attendance reward, this will be a remarkable session with our own, Ayn Inserto, conducting. We'll be filming for the DVD documentary, so bring a friend and enjoy being a part of the recording process!
Three days later, I will fly to LA (along with the film crew) to complete the recording of the suite. We have to assemble six horns and the rhythm section (ten musicians) to get this last track completed in one afternoon. Bob Mintzer has taken on the role of contracting the horns in LA and my dear friend Russell Ferrante (for whom I wrote this last piece) has graciously agreed to play for the recording.
Update (10/4/12): Just check out this line-up that Jimmy Haslip and Bob Mintzer put together to record the Suite (Part 4). Please consider the VIP attendance reward as this will be a remarkable session. We'll be filming for the DVD documentary, so bring a friend and enjoy being a part of the recording process!
The next five days will be spent in the studio of master engineer, Rich Breen, mixing and mastering all ten tracks to complete the recording part of this project. Then comes the post-production...two months left before my sabbatical submission deadline to accomplish manufacturing, design and artwork, traveling down to Texas for film editing, working with a publicist to advertise the pre-release of the recording, planning and executing interviews for multi media presentation, designing and creating a commercial website for the release of the CD, hiring assistants for timely distribution of Kickstarter rewards, and whatever unforeseen developments and expenses should arise before project completion.
The Remaining Costs
After we finish the tracking process, we need to get the recording mixed and mastered. Then it will be time for design, artwork and manufacturing. The final stages will include hiring the right publicist to schedule interviews for me to discuss this music and to get it airplay wherever possible around the globe. Also, I will need to employ talented collaborators to create my website and support me with the appropriate technology for dispersing all the Kickstarter rewards in a timely fashion. Finally, I will need to compile, edit and finalize a video documentary of this entire process supervised by my two wonderful former students and blossoming musical talents at Mystics Creative, Max Townsley and Drew Erickson.
The main pending costs include the studio and engineering fees, payment for these numerous high-level musicians including cartage in some cases, travel and accommodation costs for film crew, arranger/conductor, producers, and myself to and from Boston and LA (via Texas, Mexico and California), fees for arrangement and orchestration of the suite, costs of manufacturing, design, artwork, publicist, technical support for website construction, plus the hours spent mixing and mastering the final musical product. As well, there will be costs involved in publishing and design layout for the photo book of music and for the distribution of rewards to all of my supporters!
I sincerely hope that my friends, family, students (both current and former) and colleagues, not to mention potential supporters whom I have not yet met, will empathize with the strong drive and passion I feel about making my music available for the first time. This was an intense labor of love for me, as all of these pieces were inspired by people, places, ideas and events that have been pivotal during my lifetime.
About the Rewards being offered here at Kickstarter: I tried to choose an appropriate blend of digital downloads, CDs and DVDs, mementos from this project such as scores, lead sheets, behind the scenes videos covering all aspects of production, a commemorative book of exclusive photos, commentary and music, plus some actual gear used in the project (all in excellent condition, by the way) at well below retail or resale value. Finally, I have supplied access to lessons with these world class musicians, consultations with industry professionals, an opportunity for participation in and VIP access to the upcoming sessions, and even the possibility for collaboration with the arranger and composer on some additional music to be exclusively dedicated to you. If there is anything else you would like to see offered, please do not hesitate to contact me with requests. Ask me for photos and technical details on anything offered here. We have only a short time to raise the funds for completion of this recording project. Your contribution, in all ways, is very much appreciated!
I have been supported in this process, not only by the many influential people who have encouraged me to persevere in pursuing this dream and all my dedicated and caring students that stepped up to assist me along the way, but by a number of committed manufacturers in the music industry who have offered goods and services in the spirit of making this project a collaborative venture. Special thanks to Rob Pemberton at Parson's Audio, Wellesley, MA; Jessica Luther at Voodoo Lab; Cory and Gwyn McIntosh at Roc-n-Soc; Matthew Goins at Blue Chip Picks; Robbie Hall at Custom Tones for the Ethos Overdrive Pedals; Adam Robey at Lopoline Speaker Cabinets and Custom Flight Cases; Brad Delava at Apogee Electronics; Rupert Neve for his inspirational ideas, designs and the ingenious Portico 5107; Peter Henriksen for the great sounding Henriksen JazzAmps® and Tweeties®; Mike Joly at OktavaMod; all for going above and beyond to support me in the process of making my debut recording, (In Came) Love, So Silent.
- (25 days)