quiet the noise

Hearing masterful musicians perform live is always a thrill. Being able to record them is a privilege. But when the musicians are communicating at an incredibly high level at an extremely young age, I’m filled with admiration and joy.

The Isaiah J. Thompson Trio joined us for a night of music @exuberance last October. These three young lions are all studying at Juilliard, and the chemistry and dynamic of the trio was truly inspiring. I recorded the show and mixed it for them, and a few tunes are now available.

I’m glad the recording has been released for several reasons. I’m sure it will be the first of many for these talented musicians, and it would be a disservice for anyone not in attendance that night to be denied this music. It’s hard to believe that their best is yet to come when you hear a performance like this.

Secondly, I hope that releases like this will raise awareness for what we are doing @exuberance. The spot is a private residence owned by Matt Yaple, who opens up his home, once or twice a month, to anyone who wants to appreciate the superb series of performers he curates. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who is as fiercely and singularly driven by a passion and wonder for jazz music as Matt. To that end, there’s really only one rule @exuberance: simply listen. We don’t allow texting, photos, video, or anything else that would detract or distract. It’s a beautiful setting in a great sounding room with an incredible Steinway B available for all players who come through. I record every show as part of the service we offer to the musicians (besides paying them everything that comes through the door minus expenses – profit is not part of the mission).

In this age of endless devices, “multitasking,” and staring at screens, @exuberance offers an alternative. For each show, we quiet the noise and offer a calming respite where some of the best jazz music in Philly can be enjoyed. If you’ve never joined us, I hope you check it out sometime.

behind the sounds feature

I was recently featured on the Philadelphia Jazz Project’s website for a series called “Behind the Sounds.” It includes interviews with a handful of audio engineers who do a lot of work in the local jazz scene. I’m incredibly honored to be included, and have a tremendous amount of respect for the PJP and all that they do. Check out the full interview here.

we are music film premiere

To say that this has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on is a start. But it’s not everything, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to express everything this project has meant to me and everyone else who has worked on it. It would have been cool if we only incorporated the tons of talented players and filmed around the cool locations that we did. But being able to pay tribute to a musician who meant so much to so many of us elevated the project to a special place of significance. It is an honor to be able to dedicate this project to the music and memory of Dante Bucci.

For those interested in the production process (which is often what I talk about on this blog), let me begin by thanking everyone who worked on the film. We had an excellent crew, and excellent players who braved the cold (I still shiver when I think back to those shooting days). Because if the music isn’t good, it doesn’t matter how nice the gear is, or if the microphones were placed in the optimal spots. The music is king, and all of the players rose to the occasion.

The production process ran like a proverbial well oiled machine. The three person crew (myself, Todd on camera, Kyle assisting audio), piled into my car, pulled up to the location with talent waiting, setup audio and video, and ran takes. We gave everyone three takes of the song to do what they wanted to do, then we quickly tore down and drove to the next location, charging the laptop in the car during the commute.

That’s not to say we didn’t have our fair share of problems. People ran late, we had to switch schedules and locations a few times, and we were kicked out of two of our locations (although the second time it wasn’t until we already had recorded 1.5 takes, so we had enough material). I am generally a proponent of the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” style of filmmaking, and in this indie production, it largely benefitted us. Plus, the happy accidents outweighed any of the road blocks. There were multiple times during production where we all thought, “wow, we couldn’t have planned that.” Examples of this can be seen at the Academy of Fine Arts shot, where all three players (who were not originally supposed to be in the same shot) were all dressed complimentary not only to themselves but to the walls of the Academy as well. Also, the 30th St. Station scene featured two musicians who were playing with no acoustic sound – only direct line instruments. So we were able to quietly work without bringing attention to ourselves by making lots of noise.

From there, post-production was the most intensive part of it all. With all of those players doing multiple takes of the song, the audio mix alone was a bear. Going through and finding the best material was a challenge that yielded a great reward, because after I was able to pick and choose the parts I liked best, everything seemed to sit really nicely together. Again, top musicianship.

Once the audio mix was mastered, we could move onto video editing. It was great working with Jay on the edit. Since he’s also a drummer, this job proved to be ideal for a video editor with musical timing.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the premiere on December 1st. It was a great evening of sharing music and stories. And we raised a bunch of money for charity. I’m feeling thankful all around, and am pleased to share this project with the world.

live in-studio concert

I’ve been doing a lot of stuff over at Forge lately, and am really excited to coordinate a new event happening at the studio. I thought it would be cool for many people, mostly those unfamiliar with professional recording studios, to experience a concert in the studio environment. It’s such a different vibe and atmosphere as compared to a live venue, and everything is under the microscope.

So, Forge be opening up the studio for the public to sit in on a real session. Audience members can either sit in the control room, behind the large mixing console, or in the live room with the musicians. Those in the live room will have the option to be on headphones during the performance, where they will actually be able to mix their own version of the show. Live. Not only that, but everyone in attendance gets a digital download of the concert.

Our first in-studio concert will be with the great Steve Giordano and his Organic Trio. We’ll be able to utilize the excellent Hammond Organ and Leslie already at the studio. I can’t wait to hear what the trio does in the space.

Tickets are available here.

dylan taylor epk

As previously mentioned, I really enjoy the EPK format. Getting the opportunity to produce one for longtime collaborator, Dylan Taylor, was a special treat. I tried to cover many aspects of his career, while allowing Dylan to be the central element to narrative. The video ended up being longer than anticipated, but I thought it was important to include sections about his musical background, coming full circle when he got the chance to play with Larry Coryell, and lots of info about the production of his record, “Sweeter for the Struggle.” I hope you enjoy.

Also, the AlyCat tour was a success. I have lots of other projects cooking at the moment, and will share more when the time is right. Additionally, I’ll be riding 100 miles for the National MS Society at the end of September. If anyone would like to donate to my ride, you can do so here. Many thanks.


la giara

I wanted to drop in a quick update here to let everyone know about an event happening this Friday. I do a lot of work with Minas, a husband and wife duo who play Brazilian jazz, bossa nova, and samba. They are wonderful people who make lovely music. Patricia King of Minas has spent the last 5 years writing a book about her family’s history. She has now taken the book and adapted it into an operetta, with tuneful songs that dip into Italian folk music, opera, Choro, and jazz. La Giara premieres this Friday at World Cafe Live.

My part in this production involves live video projections to go along with the music. This is a new role for me, so tackling it’s unique challenges has been a lot of fun, and a great learning experience. The visuals have to be meaningful without being distracting, heightening the story and music without being over the top.

I’m looking forward to being a part of the premiere on Friday, and perhaps will see you there. I even connected Patricia to Joe Soprani, who will be playing accordion that night. Here’s a little promo video that I made to give everyone an idea of what to expect.

recap from the bride

I recently cut together this video from Dylan Taylor’s CD release party. The event was held at the Painted Bride, which I think is one of the best rooms in the city. Not only that, but it has a very cool, funky vibe, which I thought was the perfect match for Dylan’s musical aesthetic. The lineup was outstanding, which featured nearly everyone who played on the album, including the great Larry Coryell. A last minute add-on was John Swana on EVI/valve trombone, which was such a treat.

I was mixing the show, but also jumped on stage to play Coryell’s “Low-Lee-Tah,” since Dylan switched over to play electric cello on that tune. I haven’t been that nervous on stage in quite a while – the caliber of players was quite intimidating for me. But it was an incredible experience.

The night was a success, and I’m so proud of Dylan for releasing this record. We’ve been working together for about 2 years now, and he is an excellent artist to collaborate with. He’s always very gracious, has good vision, but knows when to lean on me when he’s not sure of something. We also worked on the soundtrack for a foreign film that was premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival last fall, and I’m excited to see what new projects he has in mind. But for now, I’m still enjoying “Sweeter for the Struggle.”

P.S. Huge thanks to Tom Emmi for filming the concert. You may know his work as producer of the Studio Jams series.