Guitar, Jazz, Music

“Maybe you should write a jazz album”

This is how Lewis Harding’s excellent debut jazz album ‘Palm Thievery’ started, here’s the story behind the recording.

Lewis Harding – Palm Thievery

Regular client, Lewis, was at the studio one day having just recorded a couple of his new tracks with Kate Hogg featured playing Alto and Tenor Saxophones. The two tracks (‘Above’ and ‘Hue 6’) were originally destined for an ambient guitar-based album, but had taken on a definite jazz feel with Kate’s lyrical Sax melodies and improvisations.

“Maybe you should write a jazz album”, someone said to Lewis.

Kate Hogg – Saxes and Flute

As the world came to a grinding halt in early 2020 Lewis, out of gigs and the studio closed, used the time to write more melodies and chord lines with a jazz feel in mind.

Before long there was an album worth of tunes and as life briefly eased up Lewis came to The Playroom to start laying down guide chords and melody lines so that we could work on the arrangements. The challenges of recording an album when so restricted with opening hours and numbers of players at once became the next hurdle.

Tom Phelan – Piano

Next a call to Tom Phelan (another regular at the studio) who Lewis had met years previously and we were recording piano parts. This gave Mike Saunders (resident engineer and orchestrator) enough of a framework to write horn section parts. Later on in the process Tom returned to record some fantastic piano solos (‘Above’, ‘Octopods’, ‘Hue 6’ and ‘Palm Thievery’).

Terry Pack – Double Bass

In the meantime, taking the opportunity of being allowed out of our houses, we arranged for Terry Pack (Double Bass) and Dave Cottrell (Drums) to record for a couple of days (Terry in the booth, Dave in the live room) which gave all the pieces a real lift as well as finalising the feel and layout of the arrangements.

Studio friend Richard Horne popped in to record the fiendish vibraphone parts. ‘Octopods’ particularly was a ‘bit of a headache’, but as this was a ‘no cut, copy and paste’ album, (all you hear on the album is played for real by all the musicians), we took time to rehearse and perfect. His 4-mallet chord work on the ballads is sublime.

Richard Horne – Vibraphone

Time to get noisy! On to the horns. Mike had written parts for the horns for all the ‘heads’ and sectional work so it was easy to adhere to social distancing by having one player at a time come to the studio. With such a solid rhythm section already in place, timing was never an issue.

First up:- Julian Nicholas came to record Baritone Sax and Tenor Sax. After the heads and section parts were recorded we let him loose on some free solo sections in ‘George’s Salamander’, ‘Palm Thievery’, ‘Nine Steps Between’ and a marvellous show-stopping Baritone Sax solo on ‘Octopods‘.

Charlotte Glasson spent a morning recording Soprano Sax and Alto Sax to the sectional parts, and added some gorgeous clean lines of improvisation on ‘George’s Salamander’ and ‘Clues in Bhutan’.

Charlotte Glasson – Saxes

And finally for the horn section Martijn Van Galen, an old friend of the studio, came to top-off the sound on Trumpet and Flugelhorn. Great playing and marvellous solos on ‘George’s Salamander’, ‘Octopods’ and ‘Nine Steps Between’.

Martijn Van Galen – Trumpet and Flugelhorn

So to the finishing off. The beauty of being the boss was that Lewis could wait to add his final guitar parts and solo sections at the end of the recording process. A couple of weeks of popping in and out and trying ideas and we had them all down. Just right.

Lewis Harding at The Playroom, Arundel

The final stage of any recording is mixing. The secret of this album was to get the overall balance of each of the tracks to sound similar, to ‘join up’ the horn section and make the recording sound like the band were together and recorded at once, when actually, as we know, it was recorded in bits and pieces over a long period of time.

Mike Saunders – Orchestration and Mixing

‘Mixing great musicians makes the job easier,’ Mike said. So actually it didn’t take long. And, as the world was still ‘closed’ there was no real rush to finish which gave time for long breaks between listening and a real chance to find the little bits that would ultimately end up being annoying if left. Once finalised, the mixes were sent to Simon Gibson at Abbey Road Studios in London for mastering before being sent for duplication.

So, we give you ‘Palm Thievery‘, Lewis Harding’s debut jazz album – we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we have enjoyed making it.

Buy and/or download now from Bandcamp.

https://lewisharding.bandcamp.com/releases


Music, Musical, Theatre

GUY FAWKES AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN HIM, OR HEARD HIM, BEFORE.

Released today, 5th November 2020 – Guy Fawkes the Musical. 6 years of work, 27 songs, 12 piece band, West End performers (including Adam Pearce, Francesca Leyland, Waylon Jacobs and Sandy Grigelis) all on a stunning new Double-CD. It’s been a great project.

A new rock musical soundtrack is released today (5/11/20). Orchestrated by Mike Saunders. Recorded at The Playroom, Arundel by West End musicians and mastered at Abbey Road, by award winning engineer, Andy Walter. Music written by Ben Durkin and the script by Terry Newman. Lyrics by Terry Newman and David T Rolleston.

More about the plot of the show:- The year is 1605. Guy Fawkes cements himself in history after failing to detonate 2,500 kilograms of gunpowder, intentionally hidden beneath the House of Lords at the heart of the British parliament. Ever since the failure of that night, the Guy Fawkes story has invoked a varied response from subsequent generations. Guy Fawkes the heretic; the revolutionary; the anarchist. The famed Gunpowder Plot held many secrets, a tale captured and embellished by a Victorian novelist, William Harrison Ainsworth, where Guido (Guy) Fawkes became the doomed hero of a best-selling novel, now long forgotten, yet full of magic, romance and the supernatural.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER…

A cobbled street on 5 November in Victorian England, a gang of ragged children carry a battered effigy of Guy Fawkes in celebration of Bonfire Night. Unbeknownst to them, they stop outside the house of the old writer, William Harrison Ainsworth famed author of ‘Guy Fawkes or The Gunpowder Treason’. After scaring off the gang, Ainsworth mystically brings the effigy to life, making the straw-stuffed figure of Guy Fawkes appear before him. A bemused Fawkes urges Ainsworth to explain himself, desperate for its origins and asking who he really is? Ainsworth begins to tell him the story of Guido Fawkes, reliving the pages first told and expressed in his infamous novel.

While following in the footsteps of his past, Fawkes’s story becomes one of a battle for religious freedom, fought against a background of dire prophecy and prognostications from departed saints. His faith is bent to breaking point when he is torn between religious freedom and the chaste maiden, Viviana. A battle to decide between earthly love and the divine, the country House and the Tower of London, or between marriage and widowhood. As the plotters converge on London, Guy Fawkes must choose his destiny.

Now as an aged Ainsworth retells the famed story to the battered effigy of Guy Fawkes, reanimated on that fateful night and desperate for its origins, we follow the story of Fawkes as another generation viewed him. With nearly thirty new orchestrated songs, Guy Fawkes the Musical reveals how magic can help reveal secrets from the past, transporting the audience to new worlds.

We see no reason… Why gunpowder treason… Should ever be forgot!

More information on the orchestration and recording process can be found here.

Also available via iTunes (more expensive). The CD includes a 12 page booklet outlining the characters in the show and the history of the Gunpowder Plot
For more information about the show and where to buy the CD here:-  www.guyfawkesmusical.co.uk 

#rock #music #theatre #newmusical #AdamPearce #WaylonJacobs #FrancescaLeyland #SandyGrigelis #NickForrest #CraigDacey #TimEde #DannyEdwards #RebeccaMorton #CarolineLowe #DaveCottrell #RichardHorne #KateFish #EleanorSandbrook #NickTrish #MikeSaunders #JoeGiddy #OliBriant

Music, Uncategorized

DW 7-Piece / Paiste Cymbals

This video is a collection of stills accompanying a recording of a 7-piece DW Drums kit (Ludwig 400 snare) and Paiste Masters Series cymbals. A bit of fun in-between sessions. No processing on the recording apart from preamps and mastering. Sounds fantastic. More tech details within the video.