Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sony Holland's new project!

(Sony @ Gary Griffin studio)

LA-based singer Sony Holland talks about the recording of her next album, scheduled for release later this year. Can't wait to listen to it!
"I had been overdue for a new release and wanted to do something different from the traditional jazz trio, piano based recordings I've made in the past. Since I have been gigging frequently as a duo with Jerry, my guitarist/composer/husband (not necessarily in that order), we decided to do a CD that would convey the essence of what those performances have been. The two of us brainstormed on which songs to include. We even did a little "test" recording in our bathroom, the quietest room in our apartment. We picked 13 of my favorite songs that have enough variety but still fit on the same disc. I could easily fill another disc, so leaving some songs out is the toughest part...

We were ready to book Nolan Shaheed's home studio. In addition to being an excellent engineer Nolan has played trumpet with the likes of Stevie Wonder and The Count Basie Big Band. He also happens to be one of the best long distance runners in the world in his age group. Jerry started by recording his guitar tracks using a metronome to help him keep a perfect groove. Since we had also been playing some private parties in Los Angeles with our friend, cellist Sebastian Wolf, it was a natural idea to add his magical touch to a few tracks. Sebastian raced into the studio to play two songs, just before leaving on a month long trip to Europe. His playing is wonderful and adds greatly to the CD.
(Nolan Shaheed, Sebastian Wolf & Sony)

Next we called our friend Gary Griffin who has a home studio set up in a shed behind his house. I am very comfortable singing there even though there is no booth between the vocalist and engineer. Gary is a skilled engineer and also a keyboardist. He's worked with the Beach Boys and other legendary bands. His "shed" has pictures of him with Chuck Berry, James Brown, Brian Wilson and many other stars. We had to pause occasionally for low flying planes, noisy garbage trucks and the neighbors talkative chocolate labs, but I was able to get the vocals done in a couple of short sessions.

We took the tracks home to listen to what we had wrought. On several songs we had inadvertently left the metronome on. The funny thing is that the beat added so much to the feel that we thought, why not actually add a little conga? It wouldn't be too costly and the sound would still be warm and intimate. So we called Kendall Kay. Kendall had played live with me at Catalina's and Spazio, and I knew he was a sensitive musician who would work comfortably in the guitar/vocal setting. At this point we moved to Mark Vincent's studio in Toluca Lake. Kendall brought in a car full of assorted instruments... djembe, conga, shaker, udu, tambourine, snare, rain-stick, etc... He added his rhythms to all 13 songs within a few hours and it all sounded so good!
(Kendall Kay)

About that time Jerry found out that Robbie Kondor was in town playing with the James Taylor / Carol King tour. They were in the midst of a three night run at the Hollywood Bowl. Though Jerry and Robbie hadn't seen each other in 20 years they were old friends from their time in a band together in NYC. So he asked Robbie to add piano to a few tracks before the tour packed up and headed out again. To our surprise Robbie agreed. He dashed in (straight from the Hollywood Bowl) and played on eight of the CDs thirteen tracks.
(Robbie Kondor)

By this point we had developed a really good relationship with engineer Mark Vincent. Mark's dad is Don Vincent, who has been the musical director and band leader for Wayne Newton since the Reagan administration. Mark has grown up around music and is a terrific engineer and a really nice guy too. We all agreed that now the tracks had a great beat and some colorful piano, and what they really needed was a bass to pull it all together. So Mark turned us on to David Hughes. David tours with David Benoit and he has also released several CDs of his own music. He is originally from Sweden but has become a sought after studio musician in Los Angeles. David brought 3 basses; an upright, a Fender Precision and a five string fretless. We really enjoyed the day he came in and played on 12 of the 13 tracks. He would listen down to a track once, pick his bass of choice, and record a terrific part in one or two passes.
(Sony & David Hughes)

The whole project had undergone quite a transformation and Jerry knew his original guitar tracks would have to be replaced. So he re-recorded them, this time playing along with the percussion, bass, piano and vocals instead of just the monotonous metronome. And that's how the project evolved from a sparse guitar/vocal recording to a full combo of percussion, piano, bass, guitar and cello. The remarkable thing is that it sounds like a terrific band performing together live. And you can tell that everyone is having a great time!
(Jerry Holland)

We've finished the recording stage and the project is currently being mixed by our friend Brendan Harkin in Nashville. It will be released later this year."

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