Besides live performances, I have found that recording is one of the funnest parts of being a musician. I had the pleasure of recording two albums at Third Eye Studios with David McGrae. Since both albums were so different, both experiences had certain challenges unique to them, but also had some common elements.
The first album was a Christmas album, The Naughty List," that I did with Eddie Brewer & The Manic Episodes. I have always loved the Christmas season ever since I was little. I asked Steve (standup bass), Josh (saxophone, clarinet, backing vocals), and Casey (drummer, backing vocals) if they were interested in doing a holiday album and they were very enthusiastic about it!
We hammered out a lot of these songs before going to the studio, but I’ll be the first to admit that I definitely did some last minute scrambling! On our recording I found out I didn’t have the final verse of "Mr. Grinch" on my sheet music I was using and last minute rehearsed it. This being one of the most challenging songs for me definitely threw me for a roller coaster ride!
We recorded these songs live and couldn’t stop laughing at certain points of recording. Josh Coleman and I had a lot of great moments singing songs together like our comedic version of "Baby It’s Cold Outside" where we have two guys singing it rather than the traditional guy and girl version. I could tell Dave, Casey, Steve, and Josh were getting as much of a kick out of it as I was! We would sit and watch Josh do some overdubs of solo’s and it was seriously amazing watching such a talented saxophone player put everything in.
When he did his "Mr. Grinch" solo we all looked at each other like, “what a badass!”. I love having Steve on this jazz project because he brings an element of liking the rules so he can break them with his walking bass and boppin’ sounds. You can really hear him on the album doing some great improv and getting that rhythm solid.
When we hammered out our swing improv version of "Carol of the Bells" it is so cool hearing Casey bust out drum solos. That guy has got some smooth moves. The song was so fun to record because you really can play around with the feeling. I found myself having a really easy time soloing because it was just plain addicting to play. We recorded that song just a couple times and all agreed that we liked the first recording, which I thought was kind of awesome because I think it was just feeling fresh.
Jazz is a style of music that gives you so much opportunity to experiment and improvise, which is why I think we all love it so much. It’s an ocean of sound and theory with endless possibilities. I think this is why I enjoy playing it and recording it. There is this kind of chaos you dance around to find a single, beautiful note -- sometimes that you know you’ll never be able to play again -- but fortunately you find another perfect moment never the same.
I am very grateful for Steve Wild, Joshua Coleman, Casey Frew, and David McRae for all there time and help and openness to making "The Naughty List" happen. Jesse Caid Shelton did an amazing job on the artwork, thanks to Josh finding him, and got wonderful pictures of the joy of the experience.
Steve did so much work behind the scenes to make sure the music was copyrighted and royalties were paid and many more hours of labor to get it done right. Casey is amazing to work with because he just loves to play and talk music. He’s super laid back and really a rhythmic genius. His drumming is really just so loose and jives with everything we've got going on!
David McGraes studio is the perfect place to record an album. It’s got so much room for us to work and the grand piano is crystal clear on the recordings. I was very drawn to recording there because it’s pretty peaceful getting to the mountains and spending time doing what we all love.
The morning driving to Third Eye Studio I felt very at ease and a lot of serene emotions. Driving through the mountains, watching the sun rise, made me excited for the day and excited to create a unique album and experience. So to wrap this up I just want to say that recording is one of my favorite things to do because even though it’s a lot of work, it is the paintbrush to the mural for me.