Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Blog #83: Mastered

So, we did it. Finished the mixing touch-ups and mastering yesterday. The CD sounds beautiful. Mike Marciano did an awesome job mixing and mastering. I finally got the track lengths and emailed them to my artist Julio. He'll add those the the CD design, I'll listen over the the master a few (hundred) times just to be sure there are no mistakes or imperfections and then we ship it off to get printed up.

I felt a lot more involved this time around for some reason, even though it was pretty much the same process. I guess I just have a deeper understanding of the different parts that go into making a CD. I also know more what can be done in the studio, and that changed my writing process a bit. Mixing is okay, but I like mastering. In mastering you get to actually make the CD and put the tracks together, including how much space is between them. On this record I wrote the music so each track would flow into the next, this made the mastering process really fun. There is no space between tracks. I finally got to hear the concept I came up with months and months ago come to life. This album sounds like one long, flowing piece of music, not just a bunch of tracks. This is the way this music would ideally be performed, but with minimal rehearsal time, and not of lot of gigs in a row, its hard to get a band to play the music like that live. Once I send the CD off to get printed up, I pretty much wait, and then the next part will be promoting, getting reviews, and setting up some shows with this band.

AND writing new music for some new projects, this is what I'm really excited about. Its always about the next project.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Blog # 82: Mixed

Friday I went back to Systems 2 studios and worked with Mike Marciano on the mixing for my upcoming album. It was a long day: 11-7pm. Mike is a magician with this kinda stuff, and I'm just there to give the thumbs up or thumbs down on what he does. Mixing is not my favorite part in the process of recording and releasing a CD, in fact, it may be my least favorite part. Listening to any one album for 8 hours straight is pretty tough(though Mike seems to love it), I get sick of hearing the same solos over and over again(even if I really love them). Its such a detailed process, Mike goes through and adjusts everything down to the detailed nuances of the bass drum or snare sound to get them just right. I have trouble hearing the differences when these things are isolated, but when I hear a full finished CD and it isn't mixed right, it can be VERY distracting. A poorly mixed album can really take you out of the moment and enjoyment of the music.

Now I've been back at my apartment listening to the mixes over and over, seeing if there is any last minute tweaks or changes that need to be done before mastering. I've made a couple notes and on Tuesday I go back to the studio to finish mixing and hopefully do(and finish) the mastering too. I'm going to be going out of town for a month, so I was hoping to finish all of this and mail it off to get the CD's printed while I was gone. If I'm able to finish everything tuesday, I could have the CD's printed and in hand as early as August 1st, however, if we don't finish, the date will probably be more like October 1st.

Trying not to rush things, but I got my fingers crossed that we can pull it all off tuesday.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to getting out of NYC for a while. Its funny, whenever I'm in New York, I can't wait to get away, then whenever I leave, I get bored quickly and can't wait to get back. I gotta figure out how i can change this feeling. My band Red Light Growler is still in the process of booking our short tour for August. Its proven surprisingly difficult. Our band doesn't really fall into specific genre's cleanly. Its kind of a rock band, and has a singer, but no lyrics, but then it has trumpet solos, but its not really jazz. This all makes it tough to book. We've got a few dates so far, trying to get a solid week of 8 gigs locked in. Lastly, my lease runs out on Sept 1st and I'll be moving. I'm really looking forward to a fresh start. I'm going to get my own place. The past few months have been a bit difficult with the schedules of my other two roommates. I like to write music everyday and have a piano in the living room which I use, but because of our schedules, I haven't been able to use it, so I haven't been writing as much, which is frustrating. In my next place, I'll be living alone. I can see myself being really productive. I can't wait~

Friday, June 17, 2011

Going Against what you know

Blog # 81: Going against what you know

Last night I played up in Harlem at Shrine. It has a mixed reputation amongst musicians, I think mainly because its a 'tips only' gig. Shrine has lots of different styles of music booked in hour slots all night, every day. I actually think this is a great idea because people are exposed to music they wouldn't normally go see. There also seems to be some sort of built in crowd of people that just come hang, enjoy a drink etc. So, I actually enjoy playing there. I usually go in with a band that is unrehearsed(or has never played together) and just try to hit as hard as possible for our hour slot(no need to pace yourself when you know its just an hour). Its a certain music experience and can be a lot of fun. Low(to no) pressure environment.

This gig I went into with a real goal in mind. I wanted to play differently. I know that's kind of vague, but what I mean is that I wanted to do things that I wouldn't normally do. I really wanted to be unpredictable and I wanted to play not like me. The anti-Crowley.

Back up to the week before, I was house-sitting for my parents for 7 days while there were out of town. They have a nice house in the suburbs, and there wasn't much to do but practice and take care of the animals. Just a lot of time to think. I tend to just take a song and practice one all day, trying to come up with different ways to approach it, different soloing ideas. I was working on 'Freight-Trane' one day(a blues for Alice type tune in Ab). I guess I was having an uninspired day and just felt like everything I was playing I'd played before at some point. I don't know about other musicians, but somethings I just don't know what to play. After working on the tune for 4 hours or so I started to really think about my note options. Granted on any given chord you've got 7 diatonic notes, and 5 that are 'outside'. I started really spending time trying to figure out what those 5 notes were and how they related to any given chord. So for a major chord those notes are, b9, minor 3rd, #11, b6, and b7. Each of this pitches has a feel, direction(pull towards a chord tone) etc over that chord. #11 is the most obvious and consonant, b9 has a certain pull towards the root etc. (I wasn't trying to rationalize them as a tritone sub or anything like that, purely as stand-alone pitches).

I've never been a licks/patterns player(something I pride myself on), never got into playing ideas in all 12 keys(or songs for that matter, sorry teachers!!), but there are still approaches that have, things that are in my DNA as to where I like to phrase, where I usually end ideas within a bar etc. And I wanted to go against that. All this was just an attempt to find something different. New. Something I wouldn't normally play. I had a week to think about this gig coming up and was committed to fighting my normal impulses. If I felt like I should play here, stop and play in a different place. If I felt like I should play this phrase, play the opposite. I was committed to change, even if it meant sounding like shit.

Anyway, the gig was fun, short and sweet, and I felt like I accomplished my goal to a degree. Its pretty hard to just change your style in a week or one gig. But I had moments where I felt myself caught up in the music and I pulled myself out, to fight my natural urges/tendencies. It was a good experiment, and I'm going to keep trying it, looking for new approaches, questioning every note or phrase, striving to find something new. That's what its always been about for me since day 1, and that's what its still about. Growth and progress.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Update and 'Lonely Crow Records'

First Draft for the actual CD

Blog 80: Update and 'Lonely Crow Records'

Sorry its been a while, but here's the update. Finally scheduled two days to do all the mixing and mastering with systems 2 studios. I'll be heading in June 24th and 28th. I've got 8 hours scheduled both days, so I'm hoping to bang it all out. I've also been emailing back and forth with my graphic designer Julio Jimenez. He worked on my first album. I love working with this guy, he always does a bunch of variations for me to choose from and I pick and choose what I like. I tend to do the same thing when I write songs, write a few versions and then pick one. We're refining the concept, but everything is looking good. If all goes as planned I'll send the art and the final recording off to Discmakers to be printed up July 1st.(and 4-5 weeks later I'll have the record in hand).

Lastly, I've decided to start my own record label: 'Lonely Crow Records'. I plan on releasing all my future projects on my own label and the upcoming album 'At the Edge' will be the first release. I'm hoping to have it out by Sept 1st at the latest. Looking forward to getting more into promoting and distributing the album, making contacts and this new frontier. If it goes well, maybe I'll even try to release other people's projects that I like. The decision to start my own label came after hearing how shitty the distribution deals are currently within the jazz world. I'm not sure if anyone knows this, and I'll probably burn some bridges saying this, but most of the jazz labels offer a deal that is: You pay out of pocket for your recording, and all the musicians, then they give you $800-$1000 bucks for the music, they own your music and they give you back 200 CD's for you to sell at your live shows. Just to give you some perspective the best jazz recording studios charge between $175 and $200 per hour to record. So add up two days of recording, plus paying the're several thousand dollars in the hole, before even mixing or mastering. Most recordings cost between $6000-10,000. At least with self-releasing you have the chance of earning your money back.

I'd also like to explore cheaper ways of recording, because I'd like to record more often, and document some of the different projects and ideas I've been working on. We'll see...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Blog 79: Progress

I've been working on the Album a lot since my last entry. Listened to all the tracks a billions times, decided what tunes needed splices and figured out a track order for the CD. I went into the studio Friday and finished all the splicing and edits. Pretty painless and a lot easier than my last album. Now I'm just waiting to hear back from the studio as to when they have some time open for me to come in and work with them on the mixing and mastering. I'll be out of town in July so I'm trying to take care of all this before I leave.

I just emailed my graphic designer(the one that did my last album) with some ideas as to what I want this one to look like. So I'm getting that ball rollin' too. I also took care of all my publishing with ASCAP today. Probably my least favorite part of the process, but good to get it out of the way. Its just a lot of filling out of forms and usually involves me calling the help-line because I can't find my 'user ID #' or 'registration #' or I'm confused about which is which. I think they make it so complicated just to dissuade people from doing it often.

Discmakers(the guys that print up the actual CDs) usually takes about a month to duplicate them so the new record could be available as early as late August(most likely September though). I'm excited about this record, it is just a much more mature musical statement than my last one and I can't wait to get it out there for people to listen to. It is not your typical jazz record, which I'm happy about. It is going to be called: 'At the Edge'. I will explain this title more later.