Ted is a classically trained pianist who writes these amazing ‘art-pop’ tunes that (to me) are very much in the Tori Amos / Rufus Wainwright ballpark. I had a blast playing on a few tracks….this one in particular was really fun.
Jody is one of my favourite singer/songwriters in the Boston area. I feel very fortunate to have played drums/percussion on this entire album. This record also features some of Boston’s finest players – Mike Mele & Duke Levine, guitars; Joe McMahon, bass; & Ken Clark on Hammond B3, piano, Rhodes, etc’. This album is a really special one.
Truth be told I didn’t know Ryan prior to this recording session. Brian Charles, owner/chief engineer at Zippah Recording Studio called and asked if I’d be interested in playing drums for an artist he was producing/recording at the studio. I’m grateful for Brian’s referral! I walked in cold, listened to the demos, sketched out an arrangement with Brian and Ryan, and did a few takes of each song. This one is the title track. Justin Schornstein on bass – fab’ player!
I Want To Go Away With You
Well, my old friend John Haydon has really done it this time. This is his most personal, honest album to date. John has grown so much as a songwriter….and he knew exactly what he wanted to get out of this album. I’m honoured that he asked me to bash the drums on a few of his precious gems. This song (along with a couple of others that I play on) was recorded a bit unconventionally in my view, but came out great anyway. I put the drums on after John tracked his acoustic guitar part. (Usually drums are first to go down to tape – or hard drive, these days.) This simple, beautiful song features Russell Chudnofsky on slide guitar, Mike Quinn on piano, John singing & playing acoustic guitar and bass, and me in the background trying not to ruin things.
This is a preview mix of 4 songs from Certified, assembled by SB vocalist Tim Pike. The basic tracks on this record were recorded in 2 days, 8 songs per day. Bass, drums, guitar, organ, and a guide vocal, all playing live in the studio. (Horns, strings, vocals, percussion, additional guitars and keyboards were added later.) All cuts on the record are either first or second takes…there simply wasn’t enough time to obsess and take multiple swings at it. Though it was an intense experience, I’m very proud of how it turned out. Chris Lannon not only grows an amazing beard, he makes his own yogurt! He also happens to be an amazingly talented recording engineer! I also learned a lot about electric toothbrushes.
Here’s a tune from South African songwriter Zola, from her latest release called “Here With You.” This one has (of course) Zola on vocals; Dave Landoni on double-bass; Doug Hammer on piano, me using brushes, and check out the amazing Trent Austin on flugelhorn – great solo! This was recorded at Doug Hammer’s studio Dreamworld Productions, just down the street from me. The sessions were great fun, in part because Zola (and her husband Selwyn) are two of the nicest people to ever grace this Earth. Absolute sweethearts! The CD release party that followed was even more fun. Sculler’s Jazz Club in Boston was sold out days in advance. Some nice review can be found here.
“For Now” – Written by guitarist Mike Mele, and one of my favourite of his inimitable compositions. Mike is truly gifted, versatile guitarist, as well as a fantastic composer. This is one of the ‘jazzier’ numbers on Mutual Respect, and I’m glad for that. A great tune and a nice change of pace on this album.
The New Sound
– A Ken Clark original, and one that really showcases how beautifully mello yet intense Ken can be on the Hammond B3. Folks who know Ken’s playing are very familiar with his unmatched dexterity and seemingly endless bank of happening concepts. But with all great musicians (in my estimation) that’s only one part of the story. This side of Ken is equally astounding. And Mike’s guitar solo on this is brilliant. I like the vibe we achieved on this one. Listening back after some time away from it, I realize how ‘behind’ we played it! From a drumming standpoint, it’s like playing inside a tank of Jello. Preferably lemon Jello (if that exists.)
Excerpt from Living Wrong
The song “Living Wrong” from John Haydon’s record She’s Gone was one of two songs on the record that weren’t composed by John; this one was written by Seth Peterson (bass guitarist on that record.) It’s not only 0ne of my favourite tunes on She’s Gone, but one of my favourite tunes – period. John sings it so honestly, and the vibe created by Pete Weiss’ production is so fitting. [For interested fellow drummers: 3 different takes of drums appear on this track...a Frankensteinean approach if you will (will you?). 1st pass I went with a ilitary-style snare pattern, recording the snare-march/bass drum/hi-hat/and cymbal accents; the 2nd pass I sed nylon brushes on a sizzle cymbal - that pattern heard best under the guitar solo, and on the 3rd pass I used mallets for some light & sparse cymbal rolls...an extra pinch of nutmeg...or something.]
Excerpt from Message Received, Zero Distortion
I think it was Summer ’01 when Jaime d’Almeida called and asked if I’d be up for playing drums on some tracks for his next project – - his next Timbre Project, that is. I’d been a HUGE fan of his first Timbre record – Free Souvenirs – and I used to call him all the time and leave him whacked-out messages about how much I dug the record (amongst other things.) I’d send him e-mails, writing in a mock Bawstin accent, wondering hen he was going to get off his duff and record the follow-up: “TIMBAH 2, TIMBAH TOO.” Well, that call inally came, and I was psyched that he invited me to be a part of it. Jaime writes great songs. In my view, the quality of the material is more than half the battle, because if the songs stink then it pretty much doesn’t atter how great the ensemble is performing the material. Jaime’s tunes play themselves, thus they bring out the best in the performers.
Excerpt from My Wasted
“My Wasted” was an absolute blast to play the drums on. I believe it was the last of the five tunes we recorded that weekend, and it was a major release. It capped off a highly productive recording session at Zippah, and left me feeling like I was part of a truly great project. I’ll never forget performing “My Wasted” at the CD release party for this disc, at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. It was a great musical environment, so the ideal easily presented itself: where the moment is so unbelievably great and the subsequent high from playing music is euphoric. I’m not sure if I could put together the words to properly describe that feeling, but that night whilst performing that tune, we came around after the first chorus to the second verse (“Let me try again, I don’t trust my head…”) and I was almost knocked out of my chair by that feeling. There is a dynamic shift coming down from the chorus into the verse, and the whole band was right on it and completely connected.
Excerpt from Eternal Funk
This is the title track from the first Ken Clark Organ Trio recording on Severn Records. Ken is one of only a handful of organists that I know of who focuses a tremendous amount of attention on his bass playing. His bass lines never take a back seat to the chords and melody lines unless the song dictates such. He listens to all the great R&B and soul bass players and it shows. I wasn’t at all shocked when Bass Player Magazine reviewed this CD and essentially told it’s bass playing readership to check out Ken Clark. This tune, like most of the tunes on the Eternal Funk CD, was recorded live to 2-track on half inch analog tape by David Earle. I think this was the second take.
Excerpt from Duke Ellington Superstar
Probably the tune that is most fun for me to play on this record. The chord progression is loosely yet purposefully based on Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” The groove on this one is kind of greasy, though fully caffeinated. I really enjoy the different levels of intensity, and Mike Mele plays an amazing guitar solo on this. Sometimes when Ken announces it live, he says something like “This one is called Duke Ellington Superstar. It’s called that because it’s a little bit ‘Duke Ellington’ and a little bit ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ Kind of like Donny & Marie were a little bit ‘Country’ and a little bit ‘Rock and Roll.’”
Excerpt from I Goopie
If I remember correctly, the title of this tune came from something Ben’s daughter Elodi said after playing with some paints. It fits – this piece of music is a dense, impressionistic painting. Ben’s analog synthesizer line in the beginning of this piece is both daring and comforting…kind of like the shag rugs of the ’70s. His concept for this record allowed for layering of sounds and textures, and longer periods of evolution through the different sections. Though much different from the previous record Witness of the Sun (which was heavily composed…I remember many difficult page turns on those sessions,) Road Trips was equally challenging. In fact, I’ve never worked with Ben and not been challenged, but that is where I find the greatest reward. Gregg comes in about halfway though this tune with a guitar solo that is right up there with Frank Zappa. Bhob follows him on soprano sax, being the textural champion that he is. Check out Bhob at the end of the piece…I think he’s wiping the turpentine off the brushes!
Period of a Lull
Working on Witness of the Sun with Ben was extraordinarily challenging, and to me “Period of a Lull” is one of the most rewarding compositions from those sessions. In my view, Ben’s creative output at that time was mind-blowing (despite the title of this tune.) Many of his compositions involved some tricky page turns and plenty of rehearsals (with lots of outstanding meals prepared by Chef Benjami at the legendary Ben’s Diner!) From the drum chair, bringing Witness of the Sun to fruition involved working closely with Ben to make this somewhat complex music more idiomatic for the drum-set. In the process of ensuring that Ben’s music was respected and well served, I really tried to craft a part that felt very flowing and natural. The demands of a composition like this notwithstanding, Ben gave me lots of freedom to put my own musical stamp on it.
Could Have Said Goodbye
This is a cool tune and a fun groove to play. Gently rocking alt-country, highlighted by twangy guitars and that harmony vocal line. This one sounds especially great in the summer, in the driveway, through an old boom box – - especially if you happen to be hand-washing a green ’71 Chevy Bel Air.
Excerpt from New York Housewife
Gingerbutkis / A Look Into Independent Music (compilation CD)
Recorded by Andrew Lypps at the infamous Zippah studio through an ancient and beautiful Neve console, and mastered by Jonathan Wyner at M Works. This tune started life as a ditty by Eric Doberman. Gingerbutkis vocalist/bassist Stephen Villane recognized it’s potential and brought it to the band with his vision for it. The three of us hammered this thing out in rehearsals, and went into Zippah for more hammering and recording. I don’t think we could have made the final outcome any denser than it is! Lots of guitar tracks, a cello track; I even added sleigh bells to the “outro.” We put a tube microphone in the center of the studio, and I marched across the room and out the door, pounding the sleigh bells like a rabid reindeer. I believe there are still some copies available of this Boston-based compilation CD from Dream Authority Music: PO Box 444, Brattleboro, VT 05302.
Put Me In A Box
Gingerbutkis / Demo
Recorded by Tom Hamilton at the now defunct Synchro Sound Studios on Newbury Street in Boston – once owned and operated by The Cars. This was done in 1993, before local bands were making CD demos. We had a 5-song cassette demo that we were shopping around (for what seemed like forever.) Recorded analog, 24-track 2-inch tape, and mixed to DAT. Years after the band broke up, I brought the final mix to Dave Locke at JP Masters for his superb mastering treatment. Someday we’ll compile all the Gingerbutkis demo recordings and assemble a proper CD, but it’s difficult to prioritize that kind of an undertaking for a now defunct band. The female voice on this track is my old friend Michelé Neville, an extremely talented actor and singer. I met Michelé in the summer of ’89 on the set of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The town of Manchester MA used to sponsor an annual “Summershow” series. Back then I was playing percussion in the “pit” bands for various civic theatre productions. Michelé and I became friends and worked together on subsequent Summershows. When I approached Dave and Stephen with the idea to add a female voice to this track, Michelé was first on the list.
Lettuce Prey / (in post production)
Lettuce Prey is a project from NYC based guitarist/composer David Fabris, my old comrade from Gingerbutkis. I’ve heard Dave describe his unique style as “bastard jazz.” Ran Blake bestowed upon David the gallant moniker “Knife.” Prokofiev’s “Sythian Suite” is an amazing piece of music, and the big challenge for me was to transform the original percussion parts (played by several people) into something I could play alone on drum-set. (I purposefully did not familiarize myself with Carl Palmer’s attempt at this with ELP back in the early 70s.) Time = money … especially in the recording studio… so the drum part on this recording was done “live” with no overdubs. Check out Ran Blake’s haunting piano intro on this. This was recorded at Milt Reder’s incredible Rear Window recording studio in Brookline Massachusetts.
I knew that Matt wrote some strong material, but had no idea about how the music would take shape until I got the CD in my hands. I’d describe this CD as a folk/country/pop/bluegrass hybrid, and it’s one where I got to meet some awesome musicians (Kris Delmhorst, Sean Staples, Nolan McKelvey and many others) “on tape”. Matt (vocals & acoustic guitar,) John Haydon (bass guitar,) and myself recorded our tracks live in the studio. From there, Matt added tracks from a horde of specialists who perform around the Boston Folk scene and beyond. Check out Dobro master Tim Kelly on this.
- 05/26/13 Steve Chaggaris in AMESBURY, MA at UNITY ON THE RIVER
- 05/26/13 Steve Chaggaris in SOMERVILLE, MA at Sally O’Briens
- 05/31/13 Steve Chaggaris in PORTSMOUTH, NH at PRIVATE EVENT
- 06/01/13 Steve Chaggaris in Harwich, MA at PRIVATE EVENT
- 06/02/13 Steve Chaggaris in AMESBURY, MA at UNITY ON THE RIVER