APRIL 15, 2008 - TUESDAY 7:00 AM
It's done! Yesterday evening, I overnighted the finished master CD to our manufacturer and now the process of replication will begin. The print - the CD booklet and inlay card - are already finished and at the plant. I have some samples which the printer sent to me and they look fantastic. Bob Trimble of Whitmore Prinitng in Lancaster, PA did an amazing job of making sure that all of Jack Hovey's beautiful graphics were excellently represented. We expect to receive the finished packaged CDs in less than 2weeks and will begin shipping pre-orders as soon as we receive the finished CDs. The official retail release date is June 17 but if you want it before, you can order it exclusively here. Downloads will also be released nationally on June 17 but can also be purchased earlier here beginning on May 4. I literally can't wait for you to hear this new music of mine!
APRIL 9, 2008 - WEDNESDAY 11:50 AM
I know that it has been weeks since my last diary entry here but I have been very busy! I have been putting in one 16 hour day after another. This CD is worth every minute and all I can say is wait till you hear this! This album and this new music of mine is what happens when you spend a lifetime pursuing a goal and I want every single note to be right. I am now in the last few days of mixing and mastering and the finished CD will go to the manufacturer this coming Monday.
I have had several emails asking me to describe and explain the mixing process so here goes..
Many of these new compositions have lots of parts and sounds and most of the pieces have songs within the song so to speak. As the producer, part of my job is to make sure that all of these pieces to each song's puzzle fit together in such as way as to make the meaning and feeling of each composition clear and strong. Each of the musicians played so many wonderful things but at some point, the producer must decide what shines through and where. There are literally thousands of decisions I have made in the course of mixing this CD and each one has been considered from many different angles. That's what takes awhile. Also, as the engineer, it is my job to make sure that each instrument is sonically represented as close to perfect as possible. I love getting a great sound and so this part of the process, though tedious at times, is fun for me too. Each of my previous 17 CDs have been given this kind of attention to detail but "The Grace of Sunmmer Light" is on another plane and demands and deserves whatever it takes.
Well, back to the studio. Thank you again to the hundreds of people whio have pre-ordered the CD already. You can't imagine how good that makes me feel as I labor on this new work.
MARCH 21, 2008 - FRIDAY 8:30 AM
And as promised in my last diary entry, here is the CD cover - "The Grace of Summer Light" CD cover.
MARCH 20, 2008 - THURSDAY 12:30 AM
I just finished another long day of mixing. I really can't express the joy I am feeling as I work on this new music. The mixes are coming out fantastic! It is hard, intricate work but so thrilling to bring out all of the myriad elements within each composition as well as the performances and the many, many creative parts which each musician contributed. There are so many high points. The title track is particularly exciting for me - wait till you hear how much the demo has now been expanded and developed, to say the least! The song titles and timings are also now finalized and so here they are for you...
1. JUST BEFORE THE DAWN (prelude) 0:31
5. PERFECT CIRCLE SUN 4:13
The Total Running Time is around 58 minutes.
The graphics are all done as well and will be going to the printer in the next few weeks. The cover should be up here at my web site in the next few days. Stay Tuned....
MARCH 1, 2008 - SATURDAY 2 PM
Last Friday, February 22, I began recording all of the many acoustic and electric guitar parts for the new compositions. I worked morning, noon and night (literally) and last night, 8 days later, I finished the last track. It took many long hours but I also had a great time playing to the incredible tracks that Joel, Tom, Jay and Kevin recorded before me. Having said that, I am glad to be finished with this phase of the process. You know, when I recorded and produced the other musicians, I was supportive, positive and encouraging. But when I produce myself, I am not as nice! I drive myself pretty hard and can be my own worst critic. This makes for coming up with great guitar parts but it is also hard work. On Monday, I will begin the mixing process. This will take me approximately 4-5 weeks and except for the composing process, it is my favorite part of making a new CD.
Also this past week, we finalized the cover for the new CD. My art director Jack Hovey put together no less than 30 cover concepts for me to consider and there were a number of winners. Ultimately, the one I picked was perfect for the CD title and also the way this very new music and direction feels to me. All of Jack's work is pretty amazing and this new cover is no exception. I hope to share the cover with you very soon here at my diary.
FEBRUARY 20, 2008 - WEDNESDAY 5 PM
Last, but certainly not least of the great guest musicians contributing to "The Grace of Summer Light" was percussionist Kevin Prince. Kevin has played on my last 6 CDs as well as countless other CDs which I have produced for other artists. He is my first call percussionist and he came through with flying colors today. I added his congas, bongos, triangle, shakers, wood blocks and toys to 3 of the new songs.
Kevin took to Joel and Tom's rhythms like a fish to water - he sounds simply amazing. His bongo work on track 6 (no title yet) is particularly memorable and inspiring. I am lucky to have such a fine percussionist living right here in the Baltimore/DC area. Tomorrow I start recording the guitars....
FEBRUARY 19, 2008 - TUESDAY 9 PM
Bassist extraordinaire Tom Kennedy and I recorded his acoustic bass, fretless bass and Fedora bass the last 2 days. Tom is a major player on both the acoustic and electric bass and his phenomenal technique on both instruments is only matched by his sensitivity and immpecable musical taste. Tom played acoustic bass on 7 of the new songs, fretless bass on 1 song, r&b slap bass on 1 song and the Fedora fretted bass on a very high energy song of mine called "We Might As Well Dance". He and drummer Joel Rosenblatt sound so great together on these new compositions of mine and they play perfectly off of one another.
Tom was telling me that when he and Joel play gigs together in their hometown of New York City, the grooves and rhythms lock immediately. You can really hear it and feel it on these new tracks. Tom's work with Dave Weckl and Al DiMeola (to name a few of the musicians he has recorded and toured with) is well known to musicians and jazz fans and I am very happy to have his stellar playing represented on my new CD.
FEBRUARY 17, 2008 - SUNDAY 11 PM
After 4 days and nights of working in my studio with keyboardist Jay Rowe, I finally have a chance to relax with a glass of wine and write a new entry in this diary. I finished working in New York with drummer Joel Rosenblatt last Wednesday and traveled back to my home base in Maryland that same evening. In spite of some nasty east coast weather, Joel and I finished right on time. Joel played so much incredible stuff and added immeasurably to the new music. Jay Rowe and I recorded all day (and night) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (tonight). Jay continues to amaze me. He and I have worked together on 9 of my albums and yet he continues to stretch and expand. My new music was a challenge to say the least and Jay nailed all of it.
We came up with so many new sounds and concepts and there is no one who works better with me than Jay. And on top of all that, he is one of the nicest people I've ever known. I'm happy to say that this new CD gives Jay room to show just how much he has developed and evolved as a musician. Tomorrow, Tom Kennedy arrives at the studio to record acoustic, fretless and electric bass. I can't wait to work with this world class musician for the first time!
FEBRUARY 11, 2008 - MONDAY 9 PM
Tonight I am in a hotel room in NY after a long and fruitful day of recording drums in Joel Rosenblatt's superb studio, CliffSound. For any of you who don't immediately recognize his name, Joel is simply one of the best drummers in the world. He was the drummer for 12 years with Spyro Gyra and has also recorded and toured with Steve Kahn, Peter White, Michel Camilo and Paquito D'Rivera to name a few. Prior to hiring Joel for this new CD, I spent a good deal of time deciding on who would be the best drummer for my new music. Joel was my first choice.
Today we recorded drums for 3 of the more difficult new compositions, each one approximately 7-9 minutes long, spending approximately 2 hours working on each song. Each of my new pieces require that each musician not only have flawless technique and an excellent sense of composition, but also the ability to create a wide palette of sounds with their instrument and a total control of the dynamics. Joel has it all and I can't tell you what a joy it is to hear my new music take on a new shape and third dimension as Joel infuses it with his very personal and soulful playing. Plus, he is a perfectionist, a consumate pro whose commitment to the music is exceptional.
We start up again first thing tomorrow morning and I will update you here again.
FEBRUARY 8, 2008 - FRIDAY 10 AM
Very busy this morning as I finish the preparation for my trip to NY to record drummer Joel Rosenblatt. We will spend 3 days recording Joel's drum tracks in his studio, Cliffsound Studios. Then I will travel back to my recording studio in Maryland and record keyboardist Jay Rowe for 4 days. Jay and I have already done a great amount of pre-production work on all of the songs but we still have plenty more to do. Then bassist Tom Kennedy arrives with his acoustic, fretless and fender basses to record for 2 days. Finally, I will spend a day in the studio with Kevin Prince, adding his percussion and rhythms to many of the songs. I will take a day off and then, after all that, will re-record all of my guitar parts. That process will take about a week. It's going to be very busy time for the next 3 weeks so today and tomorrow are my time to make sure that I have everything organized to run as smoothly as possible and that all the musicians are ready to go. I will update my diary again after my first day of recording with Joel on Monday, February 11. Ciao!
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