On february 8th 2016, me and my quintet featuring colleagues at the university college where I work, spent 2 1/2 hours for an instant demo recording session. The recording was made using my laptop and Cubase 8 Elements. My new Steinberg UR242 soundcard features 4 ins, of which we used 2 preamped ins for vocal and trumpet, whereas the double bass was recorded from the output of the bass amp and into one of two line inputs. The piano was recorded as MIDI data for later sonic upgrade to Native Instruments “New York” sampled grand piano. No drums were recorded, these were added later by entering ride and hihat by playing a keyboard triggering drum samples. The preliminary mix was quickly put together by running the tracks from Cubase through the Soniccore DSP system which was used to add reverb, compression and to adjust levels.
No rehearsals were made ahead of the recording and this was the first session since our previous gig on November 28th 2015.
Here is a simple backing track of Julia (Lennon/McCartney) as harmonised by Medeski, Martin & Wood on their album Out Louder which features John Scofield on guitar. The track is made to help practicing improvising over the changes which requires a changing of scales for each chord.
A |F#m | C#m | E | 2x
Verses (and for solos):
A | % | Em | % |
F#7b9 | % |Dm | % |
A | F#m | C#m |E |
A |A |
G#m | G#m | A | A |
F#m | % | C#m | % |
% | % | A | F#m |
C#m | E | A | F#m |
C#m | E |
Our new salsa band “Grupo Tumbao” did its first public performance on Saturday February 1st. The venue Cafe Sanaa was filled to the rim by an enthusiastic audience. Our 2 sets consisted of standard dance tunes such as Chanchullo and La Musica Cubana, both recorded by Ibrahim Ferrer. A section of the music of Irakere included Claudia, Boliviana and Mambo Influenciado. Late additions to the repertoire included Mambo Mongo and Mayeya by Mongo Santamaria.
Jazzpianist Billy Taylor explains and demonstrats how jazzmusicians improvise by playing and altering George Gerswin’s tune “They can’t take that away from me”. Worth noting is Taylor’s comments on the importance of being prepared in order to make a successful improvised performance. Translated to music this means that he needs to know Gershwin’s tune, for a start, to be able to alter the tune’s harmony, rhythm and melody. He draws a parallell between giving a speech and performing jazz, which both requires preparation and the knowledge of a language and which in both cases should be articulated in coherent, meaningful phrases.
During a weekend in late april 2008, I brought my audio pc to Studio Bergen to do my first ever demo recording using Cubase SX 2.2 and the Creamware Scope DSP system. Having invested in a 8 x 8 Luna break out box, my system was capable to record and playback 8 tracks simultaneosly. We used a Yamaha mixing console for pre amps and routed the signal from the insert outs into the Luna audio interface. The experienced producer Gunnar Innvær provided invaluable assistance throughout the session.
Larsen å di, live at Nøsteboden
The band who acted as a guinea pig was “Larsen å di”, who plays 60’s rock and beat music, and who perform annually at the Bergen beat club events at Nøsteboden. The band plays with a genuine 60’s flavour which I was hoping to capture on disk by doing a simple mix without over using effects and processors.
The musicians at that session were Willy Berg Larsen, (drums), Magnus Monstad (guitar/vox), Finn Erik Pedersen (bass/vox) and Kjell Alvin Førlandsås (guit/vox). I added keys later on a couple of the tracks. All in all a good learning experience to record the demo. The band shows that it has great vocal capabilities and a sound and style that suits the musical material they perform.
The October edition of Jazzspinneriet was dedicated to the music of Herbie Hancock. In addition to previously presented material, which is documented elsewhere on this blog, we added this time Hancock’s “Driftin'” and Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye pork pie hat”, which Herbie did with Joni Mitchell on the album “Mingus”. The latter features many interesting changes naturally invites to exploring the alterations and upper structure harmonics as source for musical material in the solos.
Our version of “Good bye pork pie hat” came out in a slow tempo with a 12/8 feel. Here is the piano solo. Driftin’ piano solo is here.
Autumn 2012, (1 year ago…) at the October edition of Jazzspinneriet, we were fortunate to be joined by Kristin Raknes (vocals), Thomas Nøkling (sax), Jan Erik Reknes (trumpet) and Torbjørn Hillersøy (bass) – 4 great musicians who substituted the regular band members who were busy doing gigs elsewhere. Theme for the concert was Autumn, and the set list consisted of regulars such as Autumn leaves and Autumn in New York, but we also selected tunes for my upcoming 40th birthday gig and used the concert as a setting for testing material for that.
Our version of Autumn Leaves opens with the g-minor section which can be heard in the early Miles Davis recordings, and is played in a very modest swing tempo. Some delicate solos by Reknes and Nøkling, rounded off by my piano solo.
Kristin Raknes, who this time was backed by a trio, contrary to her previous appearance which was a piano / vocal duet setting. She did brilliantly two tunes by Kate Bush in their original key, and also a smooth version of the standard jazz ballad Cry me a river.
We continued by doing one of Thomas’ favourites, Sail away, a bossa tune with some interesting changes, a tune which we had not done before and which not very often can be heard at the Bergen jazz clubs.
Finally, we did Miles Davis’ Tutu. Floating around on the Internet are 2 accurate notations of the tune – (see Lucas Pickford’s below). At the solo parts, we copied Michel Petrucciani’s version and changed every now and then between Gm7 and Bbm7 at the choruses. Some great solos by Jan Erik and Thomas, and solid backing by Jan Tore and Torbjørn. My piano solo concluded the solos.
Some great musical moments took place that afternoon!
Here is a recording I made of Miles Davis’ Tutu. We did the tune recently at the Jazz spinneriet, and I thought it might be a good idea to lay it down in Cubase playing all instruments but the drums myself. Since the chords are fairly static, Gm7 – Bbm7, the track is good for practicing guitar solos in minor pentatonic and minor scales.
The track was put together in Cubase using Creamware Scope and the Dynatube amp, the B2003 hammond organ, along with the Native instruments Hendrix plug in. Drums are by NI Studio Drummer.
In an attempt to get to know better the minor scale positions on my guitar, I recorded the main parts of Ritchie Blackmore’s version of Howard Blake’s Snowman. The chords shift nicely between Em – D – Am – C – Em which lends itself to exploring E minor and minor pentatonics derived thereof. This is a work in progress, another step made to learn to play the guitar. Recorded in Cubase Elements 6 using Creamware Scope 4.5. Native instruments studio drummer provides backing track along with my Fender jazzbass through the Vinco compressor. The guitar is processed using Amplitube Jimi Hendrix.
For the sake of reference I have added to the media library a recording I did in 2008 of Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. The clip was uploaded to the Creamware user community on PlanetZ, and my forum posting read:
“I came across a live CD with Herbie Hancock and his VSOP orchestra recorded live at the Newport festlval in 76. I really like his modal jazz tunes such ans Cantaloupe island and Maiden Voyage. My idea was to try to recreate the groove and attitude of Maiden Voyage only using Scope and Cubase. I ran my Yamaha S80 Rhodes through Interpole and used the Minimax to present the theme. The STS 4000 is used for drum samples and the Individual out function allow the snare drum to be processed by adding delay.”