UPDATE: It’s here! Check out PhilPalombi.com/Detroit-Lean for details!
I’ve been kind of quiet about this so far, but I guess it’s time to spill the beans. I have a new solo project coming out scheduled for a 2016 release! This is definitely my most ambitious project to date.
2015 has been a pretty massive year for me. It started with having Scott LaFaro’s bass again, this time for six months. When I found out that I was going to have this instrument again, I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to record another CD as a leader. Once I committed myself to that path, I got to work writing! Every morning I would wake up, grab a coffee, and head downstairs to my home studio with manuscript paper and a clean slate. My goal was to write at least twelve songs. Ten made the final cut to the record. This time around I wanted to feature Scotty’s bass in a modern setting. I even tracked a few songs on electric bass, which is a first (but not last) for one of my solo projects.
I’ll blog about my writing process later. Suffice it to say that I followed my inner voice, which lead me to some interesting places. I drew from ALL of my musical influences, so this record did not come out as a straight ahead jazz recording like my other releases. It’s jazz to be sure, but the songs are all over the map stylistically speaking.
My bandmates should be familiar to you. Matthew Fries has been instrumental in helping me workshop the compositions and recording. He makes appearances on piano, Wulitizer, and the Vintage Vibe Electric Tined Instrument (aka the best Fender Rhodes copy in the world). On drums we have Keith Hall. If you’re familiar with Matt and Keith from our trio Tri-Fi, well, you’re in for a BIG surprise when you hear these guys play on this record. It’s a dramatic style change from our Tri-Fi records. I also have my good friend, great guitar player, and neighbor da the Bronx, Tony Romano playing everything from Flamenco to Stratocaster.
Rounding out this quartet is another good friend, engineer, and guitarist George Petit. You may know George as the person who has recorded and/or mixed the last three Tri-Fi records as well as my Scott LaFaro tribute recording. When I had the idea to make this recording, George was the first person I spoke to. He became the fifth member of the group, not as an instrumentalist, but as the mixing engineer. I wanted him to take what he tracked in the studio and turn it on it’s head. I asked him to come up with post-production ideas to enhance the recording. He is unbelievably creative when it comes to this kind of thing, and I love what he did on this record. I’m not going to be able to completely create some of his ideas live, but that’s okay. I feel that a recording should stand alone as it’s own artistic statement. (Don’t get me wrong, though. I am definitely going to try to recreate everything he did at the CD release party!)
Given the direction that I chose, the next step was securing a studio that would suit our needs. Remember when I called this project “ambitious?” I realized that this was not going to be a “pop into the studio and track the record in a day” situation. I wanted time– time to use the studio as a tool. I wanted to be able to experiment. What would the Wurlitzer sound like with a flanger? What about tracking the Vintage Vibe playing the melody, then tracking a single note piano along with it. Let’s set up three snare drums for Keith so he has choices based on the vibe of the tune. “Tony, why don’t you play that part three times so George can play with it when he’s mixing?” Okay, it’s percussion overdub time. Everyone grab an egg shaker!! Yeah, I wanted time.
Lucky for me George knew of an outstanding studio in Rhinebeck, NY, called the Clubhouse. It’s a few hours north of NYC, but fortunately for us they have an old barn that has been renovated into living quarters. The five of use moved in for four days. That’s right, I said four days. Who track a jazz record like that anymore?
We spent most of the first day letting George play with sounds. The Clubhouse is the only studio that rivals Avatar in terms of space and equipment. George had quite a few options, and we explored them all! Ironically, the most takes we did of any one tune was four takes. Most of the stuff fell into place with only one take (which is why I chose Matt, Keith, and Tony). We used the remaining time to flesh the tunes out with overdubs and such.
I am super excited about the results and I can’t wait to share them with YOU! Of course, before that happens, I need to decide on a song order, retitle a few of the tunes, then master the recording. If all goes well with the artwork, you may be hearing this around March of next year. Stay tuned!