The new recording is here.

 

I know when I was growing up, I loved looking at the liner notes of the albums I owned.

Back in those days we had vinyl with big covers filled with artwork and words, and I would study it while listening to the music over and over again like we all did.  Those big covers were gold to me.  I’d devour every picture and line of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, YES, Beatles, Carole King, Genesis, to name just a few.. before that it was The Partridge Family, The Osmonds and the Jackson 5. The list goes on and on…

I always wanted to know what was behind the inspiration of the album and every song.. and I have missed that with artists now. Because of the small CD covers, and more so as people are getting their music by download. So here is my attempt to share a bit more about this recording.

This recording is the second full collaboration of Aryeh and myself, and also features another of my favorite musicians in the world George Tortorelli. I have been working with Aryeh for about three years now.  Our first CD is called “Two Worlds One”. We’ve also appeared on each others separate projects as well.  George is my longtime music partner and we have been performing, touring and recording together as a duo and in groups pretty much full time since 1997.  George lives in Florida where we still tour often. (Even as I write this now) For those of you familiar with my previous recordings you have heard him often as he has been featured on just about everything I have done for the past decade. He is a wonderful musician and dear friend/brother as well. Here is George recording his bamboo flute.

Finally this recording puts all my favorite people and sounds together and I’m so happy about that. I was a major fan of Aryeh’s music long before we met, (and long before I ended up being his partner/partner) and finally we are able to merge all of our gifts together in one place. Aryeh and I play all the instruments you hear except the flutes played by George. Our combined instrument collection is vast, and we feel so lucky to have so many instruments to make this music. Here are just a few of them.

So what is it like on a typical recording day?  We’ll, because of the advances in technology, home recording studios have the capability to record as high quality as professional studios. I have been in many high end studios in my day, and when I compare our current home studio recordings to my expensive pro studio recordings on Windham Hill Records, you cannot tell a difference. I do have some excellent microphones (those were quite expensive) Aryeh has his own recording gear and can run pro recording computer programs.  I wont bore you with those details, my eyes glaze over when the talk turns to gear, but it suffices to say, between my gear and Aryeh’s, we have quite a good setup.

Our studio basement is totally sound proof, so we can record anytime of day or night. Aryeh likes to record early. Earlier than me, so a typical morning would be quick toast and tea and at 8:00 AM we get going. Me with my second mug of tea, sitting there blurry eyed and grumpy until the heater kicks in. San Francisco mornings can be quite chilly.

When the room warms up, the tuning begins. That is the most tedious part of recording. All our instruments, all our strings.. temperature changes, the tuning has to be perfect for recording, so often it takes multiple tries. Sometimes you are minutes into a perfect take, and you have to stop for one note being out of tune and start over.  Sometimes digital information gets lost or corrupted for some bizarre technical reason, hence you may hear some rare-but-salty-sailor-talk from Aryeh. Its challenging to say the least, when your all warmed up to play, filled with inspiration and ready to rock, but that one note goes sharp or flat so you have to start all over again, tuning note by note.

Finally the music starts happening and the ideas fly. We get thrilled about some parts, we debate others. I might play a tune three times through and we choose the favorite, sometime we have to make choices between technically perfect takes or imperfection but with more vibe and feel. To find the balance is key, to capture what is real, combine our years of experience and hope that the finished piece conveys what we meant to say.
The new tracks get listened to upstairs on all different stereo systems. Aryeh likes to go back and work on string parts by himself and play them for me when he’s done. Then I say, “its too much, or its beautiful, or its too weird.”  Eventually we find the place where we are both happy.

As we go along, when its time to add George’s flutes, sometimes we record while on the road, even in hotel rooms! Sometimes the parts are recorded at his place in Florida, and sometimes if he’s out west we do it in our place. Here is a movie clip of George doing flutes in our studio.

After a few months of this.. We move on to final mixing in a bigger studio. Most of the mixing is done by Aryeh at our place, but we need more specialized outboard gear, and so several days are spent going back and forth to nearby sound studio in San Francisco fine combing the details, the balances, the levels of solos, go home and listen again, go back and tweak a little more.  We can get quite caught up in the tiniest details.

Then comes audio mastering, and that is key. That is where we spare no expense to get the highest possible fidelity and clarity that technology has to offer. We send the finished project for post production to Bernie Becker’s Mastering studio in Pasadena, (near LA)  Mastering is taking all the elements, boosting them, creating a sparkling sheen on the overall sound, making sure everything is even and clear and bright and warm as can be. Bernie Becker is a legendary guy, and the nicest man ever. He and his son Dale have worked on every recording I’ve done for years. Here’s Bernie.

Meanwhile time to decide on the artwork and do credits (my job, and my longtime awesome graphics and webguy John), and everything to do with the actual manufacturing.. and in about nine months total (same as making a baby) viola.. you have it.

Then comes the promotion (also my job) so a whole new set of tasks around sending it out to radio stations, retail outlets, press releases, concert performances.. the list is long.  At this point in time Aryeh runs away and hides… in the studio, already working on his next music!

n this day and age, the way the music industry has changed, its more often independently done in-house by the artists themselves. I have experienced many different levels of album releases, some were big time with lots of people and help, and money. And some on my own label, humble and modest. This one is somewhere in the middle. But every album might be like having a new child.

You do the best you can, give it all you’ve got, and send it out in the world, hoping it does well, and is happy. But in this case we hope it makes people happy. We hope it makes them feel what we feel.. the love and reference for the instruments and sounds, the music that comes into the heart, out of the hands..hopefully into other hearts.

When we start hearing back the wonderful comments from the listeners, we breathe a collective sigh of relief that all that work and dedication, wisdom, faith and perseverance, debate, devotion, and even a few tears, (or was that beers)… was more than worth it.

And after all that work we have no choice but to go to Mexico and celebrate.

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