Perhaps the most important ingredient next to the music itself, are the musicians on the project. We play with some amazing musicians from time to time, but don’t have luxury of having a working band that is familiar with her music. Given the inevitable time constraints we needed to be able to rehearse and record this project in a very short period of time – two rehearsals and a two day recording session. A somewhat daunting task given some of the music she had written. (Ramona’s music is deceptive – and that’s putting it mildly!)
The first person Ramona contacted was Ingrid Jensen. Ingrid is one of my favourite trumpet players anywhere – she has this soaring sound and melodicism that blew us away when we first heard her many years ago in Montreal. We were thrilled when she replied saying she was excited to be part of this project.
Next was the rhythm section. We’d always wanted to play with great bass player and friend Johannes Weidenmueller, who was our first choice since we’d heard him play similar music before. When rehearsal time is a constraint, it’s always a good idea to have a bass player and drummer who have worked together, so we asked Johannes to recommend some drummers he thought would be a good fit on this project. He gave us a few names some of whom we knew and others we didn’t. I went about looking for their work on the web and Rhapsody, my favourite music research source. We were looking for someone who sounded great at swing, but could also play some ECM and Latin influenced music. I was very impressed with Adam Cruz, a drummer who had also played on Chick Corea’s Origin – Live At The Blue Note recording. He had this light yet driving sound that we liked a lot. We were very happy when both Johannes and Adam agreed to do this project.
Excited with the finalized lineup we moved on the next step. Where do we record?
One Of Us: The Studio →[next]
For many of us independent musicians who don’t have the luxury of funding via a record deal, a CD project can be a long, labor-intensive process that takes a lot of planning. It can be exhilarating exhausting and not so fun, all at once, so it’s something you have go into with your eyes wide open. The technology available to us all today might make some aspects of this process more accessible to the independent artist, but this can be deceptive. Statutory Warning: CD production can be injurious to health among other things. It takes a huge commitment and learning curve to follow through with all the aspects of producing a CD, so don’t do this at home unless you have some tolerance to pain .
Around the middle of 2007 Ramona and I started discussing her next project. We had been playing around a bit and she had already started writing a bunch of really cool tunes, some of which were sketches of things to be. Ramona is really prolific as a composer (unlike me – I can procrastinate over a song forever!) and some of the new writing sounded very through composed. She already had about 4 new tunes that we had played experimentally at a couple of gigs so we figured it was time to think about a new recording project. Nothing like putting a stake into the ground to force creativity out when its hiding
Growing up the 70′s, I always admired how records were made then, where albums were cohesive and told a story. Today too many jazz records end up being “blowing sessions” (sadly a lot of this has to do with budgets). While I enjoy listening to records with great solos, few of them bear repeated listening for me. Given the depth of Ramona’s new compositions, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for us to do a project that was more cohesive and worthy of the term album.
Sooo… to start with we contacted the record label we’d worked with before - nice people and they liked the last project we did a lot. Sadly, with the economy the way it was back then things didn’t look very promising that this would work out in the time frame we wanted to do this. So we had two choices – defer the project until better times or take on the responsibility of producing it all ourselves. We chose the latter.
I have worked for Cakewalk for over 10 years, writing audio production software. While I’ve done various smaller scale projects over the years, I have always wanted to do a full blown CD production from start to finish in SONAR, which has some amazing tools for mixing and production. So this project was going to be a trial by fire for me in more than one regard! Its can be a good thing to eat your own dog food once in a while
We had a lot to think about, but the next big thing would be to decide on one of the most important ingredients – the musicians on this project.
One Of Us: The Musicians →[next]