April 5th, 2006

The new CD is out!  "ICARUS"

It took a minute to bring it to life, but it's done - The first jazz album I've done in a while, and my first one ever I'd call a "playing" album.  I pushed the racks of synths aside and revisited my first love, the Hammond Organ.  Most of the CD is in the classic organ trio format and features great performances by guitarists Joe Beck and Mike DeMicco.  Drummer Danny Gottlieb came up from Florida to do the sessions.  My brother Tony is sitting in on bass, playing lead on a beautiful Jimmy Giuffre ballad.  Groove and sweetening come from percussionists Ken Lovelett and Carlos Valdez, and there's the band!  The album has a few originals and several of my jazz arrangements of classic pieces you'll probably know - Erik Satie's "1st Gymnopedie", Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues", Ralph Towner's "Icarus" and the Beachboys’ "Sail On Sailor."  Recorded at Sonart Studio in Mount Tremper and mixed and mastered by Cynthia Daniels, I gotta say ... it sounds pretty good!

That great cover photo was taken by my friend, photographer Sally Anderson-Bruce.  It was supposed to be used for a CD cover but Gramavision Records didn't like it.  I've been using it as my PR image shot for years - it's on the header of these website pages - and finally have a chance to use it on a CD cover as I had hoped to.  Thanks Sally.

ICARUS is available now from Woodstock CD.  I'm looking ahead toward a wider release in the fall of 2006.  Meanwhile, I've got huge stack of boxes full of CDs sitting in my basement!  Any help cleaning my basement will be much appreciated.

Icarus Log:

3/14  Don't want to make noise prematurely, but the Organ CD I've been working on for months is about ready.  It's mastered.  Artwork is done.  I'm waiting for proofs now.  It's looking like 2 or 3 weeks.  When it happens, you'd better believe I'll make a big noise!!
12/18  Almost done with the Organ Trio CD.   Tomorrow I'm off to Easthampton to Cynthia Daniels' studio for mastering.   It's getting closer!   As my diary grows here the studio photos and log get pushed further down below, but they're still here on the Home page.
9/13  Just back from 2 days at Cynthia Daniels' Easthampton, NY studio, mixing the new CD.  It's coming out great.  It's always good to have Cynthia on your project; Trust me on that one.  The only down side is the tab for gas to make the drive from Woodstock.  Frightening!  I wouldn't bring it up, except that on my way home through the who-can-afford-to-live-here? Hamptons, I spotted two adjacent gas stations having an old fashioned price war.  You know, it's such a tragedy when it comes down to that.  My heart just went out to those station owners.  I felt so bad for them, I filled it up at the more expensive one for an extra penny - the one with no waiting line.  (It's sick that I paid $3.02/gallon and felt good about it.  Oy!)

Ongoing:  I've been threatening to do a new album for years, and have finally got my butt into the studio.  I've been cranking out stuff all along, but it's literally been 15 years since my last solo Jazz project.  Way too long!  I've always wanted to do something built around my true love, the Hammond Organ.  So I'm leaving the racks of synths and the computers at home and making it a 'playing' album this time out.  Some good friends and great players are joining me on the project.

7/22 - 7/25 Sonart Studio: Move the Hammond in.  Start laying out music with the organ working against temporary drum tracks.

7/27 Sonart Studio: Danny Gottlieb is back from Europe for a couple of days and came up to play drums.  He did 9 tunes in 7 hours and played the s**t out of them!  Danny is amazing!  Award-winning engineer Tom Mark took a day away from his Make Believe Ballroom studio to record Danny.

7/31 - 8/1 Sonart Studio: Mike DeMicco spent these two days tracking guitar.  Mike's the workhorse of the project, tackling some of the hardest material - most notably two wonderful but difficult Jimmy Giuffre compositions.  He did an incredible job with them.  One - "Dragonfly" - is a 9-page extravaganza that I played live many times with Jimmy.  The new twist in our version is a hard, swinging groove organ trio style.

8/3  JAB Studio: I went out to Woodbury, CT with a big ProTools firewire drive where Joe Beck worked his guitar magic on 5 tracks.  It's a treat to watch Joe work.  He has such a tremendous command of the instrument and does chordal things that just knock me out.  I was smiling all day - and that doesn't happen often.

8/8  A short day.  I transferred all of Joe Beck's tracks into the Sonart computer.  The stuff sounds great.  It's now a complete organ trio on everything - just waiting for percussion and some special bass parts.

8/10  Woodstock Percussionist, Carlos Valdez came in to lay down Congas.  3 tunes have been waiting for this to lock the groove down.  They definitely groove now!   Recording engineer Paul Levin (my kid ... hey hey!) was in Woodstock for a couple of days, and came out to Sonart to help out with the Percussion and Bass tracking.

8/11  Finally back off the road, my brother Tony played bass on 4 tunes.  My original plan was that the project be a classic organ trio plus percussion, but some of the tunes needed something beyond the straight organ bass.  And Tony plays so good!  One tune is done as a slow Pop groove - very difficult to lock down, but Tony made it work.  On a complex and moody ballad by Jimmy Giuffre, Tony played the melody on fretless bass.  All in all, it makes for a few nice changes of pace on the project.

8/24 & 30  Ken Lovelett added lots of dynamic textures using some of his unique American Percussion instruments, and a percussion extravaganza he invented, The Bellatope.

9/13-14  Monk Music, in Easthampton, NY.  Engineer Cynthia Daniels spent these two days mixing the project.  We're 2/3 done ... We did good!  Two more sessions ought to do it.

Photo log:

Tracking organ,
in the control room at Sonart Studio in Mount Tremper, NY.
(I get the biggest picture 'cause it's my album - and my website.)
Danny Gottlieb Engineer Tom Mark Mike DeMicco
Joe Beck Tony Levin Carlos Valdez Ken Lovelett
Ken playing the Bellatope Engineer Cynthia Daniels