Sessions and Projects

2022 Grammy

Fedex surprised me with this! Thank you Eliane Elias / Chick Corea / Chucho Valdez for the amazing music, and thanks Steve Rodby for his beautiful production – left me with very little to do!

Lyle Mays – “Eberhard”

So happy to say that this piece is *finally* out in the wild for people to hear. A piece of music close to my heart, deeply satisfying to work on, challenging and sublime – my favorite things about Lyle’s music all rolled into a single 13 minute adventure.

Details are here but I wanted to jot down and share some of my memories…

What do I remember about this project?

Getting the first note from Lyle about the “next session” for “Eberhard”, as if I had been talking to him for months about it and knew exactly what he was on about – in fact, I had no idea, I hadn’t heard from Lyle in probably a good 4 or 5 months, and it was as if we’d been conversing about it every day since then and I just didn’t remember. Anyway, I soon figured out what he was talking about, and though I didn’t know the details, of course I knew I was in – no question.

I remember the first session at Sphere; hearing Aubrey, Roseanna, and Gary bringing Lyle’s wonderful writing to life – Aubrey, such a beautiful voice, nailing the solos. The three of them singing those gorgeous harmonies with precision and musicality.

Wade Culbreath was the first person I thought of when I heard Lyle’s mockup, and the first meeting in Wade’s garage jammed full of marimbas, xylophones, glocks, timpani, and all manner of percussion instruments didn’t disappoint; seeing Lyle’s joy as Wade brought the mallet parts to life, playing the solos note-for-note as Lyle wanted them, *before* getting all the music – he’d transcribed and memorized it from the mockups. Then the session with Wade at East/West Studio 1; Perfect style, virtuosic technique, deep musical understanding, all the right instincts – in many ways that will be one of my favorite days in the studio – Lyle was just so happy to hear those parts played so perfectly – every time Wade’s name was mentioned from then on he would light up!

Jimmy Branly and Alex Acuña at Sphere, bringing *all* the excitement and energy and still able to see the overarching form of the music.

Jimmy Johnson’s elegant, soulful fretless playing for the all-important bass melodies.

Lyle’s talking about a cello quartet on this? How will that possibly fit in? But really, as Steve said to me; if Lyle had it in his head it was gonna be cool, and sure enough; a beautiful texture full of interest.

Steve Rodby *finally* giving life to the signature lick of the song and making it groove as only he can.

Mitch Forman; not too daunting a task to be a keyboard player playing Lyle’s music with Lyle sitting behind the glass, right? Mitch came up with all those wonderful, soulful B3 and wurly parts at Sphere and Henson – I couldn’t really imagine why a keyboard player other than Lyle was needed, and now I can’t imagine this piece without him.

Shep; first all those great woodwind parts, and then to top it off, navigating the long arc of the tenor solo that sends the whole thing into overdrive and delivers on the final climax. That was the session at Henson with Shep on tenor, Steve on acoustic bass, and Mitch playing B3 – a fun day!

Recording Lyle’s piano on Lady Gaga’s WHITE Steinway Spirio – scary looking but beautiful sounding; Steinway reassured us that underneath the white vinyl overlay was a regular beautiful black Steinway D. A grueling day at Sphere, but we all knew it was the final, most important piece of the puzzle.

Mixing at my place with Lyle over the course of a few days – At that point he was very weak, and yet I was amazed at his ability to focus on the details, to hear the big picture and the “trees” in the forest, to still get *excited* about the music! So hard to maintain the overall dynamic shape while zooming in on so many details, and there are a *lot* of them in this piece – hundreds of little moments that nobody else would have thought to put in, but Lyle never forgot about any of them – each one adding to the musical/sonic interest of the piece without distracting from the central narrative.

And through it all Lyle – I can’t imagine the physical pain he was in or how he managed to summon the energy he had working on this music – I know he was completely and utterly drained after every session, but somehow he’d maintain focus and enthusiasm for the 8 hours or so every session demanded. I know this project brought him joy.

In the end, none of it was rushed, there was no “we just need to get this done” – when we finished the mix (during what would turn out to be Lyle’s last week on earth), it really felt like we had *finished* it – all the details were right, everything Lyle wanted was in there, and it was all finally realized as he had heard it in his head.

This couldn’t have happened without everyone involved: of course the fabulous musicians, but also Jon Papenbrook who was such a help to Lyle and the rest of us throughout. Bob Rice, who knew everything there was to know about Lyle’s keyboards and sounds, assisted Lyle faithfully throughout, and who navigated the myriad difficult recording logistics. Steve Rodby, who aside from his contribution playing, was Lyle’s most trusted musical collaborator/advisor/editor and was an essential part of this piece behind the scenes. Pierre Piscitelli who kept us in scores, and Ryan Andrews who made sure we had what we needed musically and was invaluable to Lyle during the process. Aubrey, for making the release happen.

I hope this brings joy to everyone who hears it – I think it’s a beautiful piece of music and contains so much of what made Lyle’s music wonderful; lyrical and impressionistic, but not overly sentimental, full of sophistication, intelligence, and surprise, and yet *always* deeply soulful and grooving.


This released yesterday. Had the good fortune to work on the new David Fincher film “Mank” about the writing of Citizen Kane and the screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz. Beautiful score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Alan Meyerson mixed the orchestral underscore and I mixed all the period big band material. Yet another all-pandemic orchestra; everyone sending in their parts from their homes. Really a challenge making a bunch of tracks recorded in everyone’s 12 x 12 bedrooms sound like they’re all together on the scoring stage or in a 30’s style recording studio; such is the current challenge for all us recording engineers in these times – I don’t like the circumstances, but it’s actually a fun engineering exercise. Of course, all the players are top notch – happy to have been involved. Check it out now on Netflix!

Pat Metheny “From This Place”

Finally this album has been released!  I was truly excited to work on this project – we recorded orchestra for a week at Sony’s Streisand Scoring Stage in Culver City; one of my favorite rooms – not only is it a wonderful sounding room, but the crew is absolutely as good as it gets.

Also did a couple days of percussion overdubs with Luis Conte at Gustavo Borner’s Igloo Studios in Burbank.

This is some AMAZING music! The basic quartet is Pat, Guillam Simcock on piano, Linda May Han Oh on bass, and Antonio Sanchez on drums. Beautiful writing, some gorgeous lyrical songs, and some incredibly complex ones, and of course amazing performances from the band.

The orchestra stepped up and played this difficult music with soul and beauty.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet 2019-08

Lovely week of recording for a new album with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet in Cammilleri Hall at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC.

This hall is a pretty interesting place: A small (maybe 200 seat) performance space designed by Yasuhisa Toyota (who also worked on the acoustics at Disney Hall). The walls are mostly diffusive panels cast from concrete or ceramic, and while the footprint of the hall is very small, the active acoustic space extends up 3 stories, and the stage floor is a tuned resonator that forms a significant part of the acoustics. The reverb time can be controlled very effectively with 5 sets of remote-control curtains in the upper 2 stories – the whole thing works remarkably well for solo and small group performances. A very rich sounding space.  There’s some more interesting info about the hall here:

Mic’ing was pretty standard with Sennheiser MKH80/800s, DPA 4011s, and a couple of Schoeps omnis.

Steve Rodby produced – probably be finishing this up in a few months.

Seth MacFarlane “Once In A While”

A new album from Seth landed this week. It’s a collection of lovely songs – some well known, some more obscure – all arranged by the marvelous British arranger Andrew Cottee, and produced by Joel McNeely.

The basic tracks for this were recorded in 2016 at Abbey Road Studio 2 in London. Seth brought a core band with him from L.A.; Peter Erskine, Chuck Berghofer, Larry Koonse, Tom Ranier, and Dan Higgins. The rest of the orchestra was made up of mostly players from the fantastic John Wilson Orchestra. As you can imagine, this was an absolute joy to record, and the final album is sumptuous!

For those who are interested, this was initially recorded to double-24 tracks which we then transferred into digital for post work. The smell of tape in the small control room at Abbey Road 2 was almost overpowering at times! Many thanks go to the stellar crew at Abbey – an engineer really can’t go wrong with these folks keeping an eye on things for you!

I understand the digital release is out and the CD is coming shortly – as of middle of April we’re still working on getting a good test pressing of the vinyl, but I expect it will be out in the next month or so.

Here’s a few snaps from the sessions – enjoy!

2018 Grammys (February 2019)


Happy to say that the Steve Gadd Band record from last year won the “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” Grammy this week! This is amazingly Steve’s first Grammy with his name on it!

Happy to have been there for it. More info here

Also at this year’s Grammys Randy Waldman won for “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” for his arrangement of the Spiderman Theme on his “Superheroes” CD – I was fortunate enough to have mastered it for Randy.

Planet D’earth!

Planet D'earth Cover

This has been in heavy rotation in my car the last couple weeks since it released – really nice project from Kait Dunton featuring John D’earth on trumpet, the fab Dane Alderson on bass, Bob Mintzer on sax, Jake Reed on drums, Kait on piano and keys and a brief appearance by the redoubtable Andrew Synowiec. As always, some wonderful compositions from Kait, and the whole band sounds terrific. Really nice meeting John on this one!

We tracked this at the wonderful Sphere Studios in Burbank. Hardly any pics from this session, but enjoy the music!

More info from Kait here.

The Orville Soundtrack

This dropped a few weeks ago; excerpts from the soundtrack for Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi show The Orville. Some great stuff here from Joel McNeely, John Debney, Bruce Broughton, and Andrew Cottee.

2 1/2 hours of extremely high craft on display here!  I worked on about 1/3rd of these – they were FUN sessions, with Joel’s beautiful writing and conducting. We recorded at Fox’s Newman Stage with 70 to 80 of LA’s finest on every session. On the cues I worked on there was essentially no striping or overdubbing, just a huge orchestra sounding *wonderful*.

Check it out here.

2017 Grammy (May 2018)

This showed up in my mailbox last week! All hail Billy Childs for making such an amazing record!

This makes number 2 this year along with the Guaco Latin Grammy!

New Steve Gadd Band CD

Steve Gadd Band @ Sphere 2018

The new Steve Gadd Band CD is out on Mack Avenue records. Had a great time recording over at Sphere Studios in Burbank. Fantastic working with all these amazing musicians!

Pretty great video from Jimmy HERE

Bill Zules took some great pictures – Click on the picture below to see them.

Yellowjackets 2018 release; “Raising Our Voice”

Just finished recording and mixing a new Yellowjackets CD! “Raising Our Voice” features the wonderful Luciana Souza with Will, Russ, Bob, and Dane. Luciana brings a lovely color to new songs, and a few favorites revisited. I expect this to be out in the fall on Mack Avenue Records.

We recorded over the course of a week at Sphere Studios in North Hollywood. Gorgeous *large* tracking space with a nice old Neve that’s been totally rebuilt, a pile of API and Neve preamps, and tons of lovely outboard.

Here’s a few lousy snaps – Yes, Bob was there, no, I didn’t get a chance to grab any pics of him!

3/2015 East/West Studio 2

Spent a couple of fun weeks over at East/West Studio 2 doing basics for a couple of CDs. Jimmy Haslip on bass, Scott Kinsey on keys, and fellow Chicagoan Gary Novak on drums. Nice room for this kind of stuff.


Here’s a nice charity project that I mixed earlier this year, available on Artist Share. The all-Star line up features Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb, Rick Braun, Harvey Mason, Brian Bromberg, Til Bronner, Everette Harp, Eric Marienthal, Brian Dunne, Randy Brecker, and John Pattitucci. All proceeds go toward the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation. Join today and see how this project evolved. Check out the Artist Share page and video here

Bob Mintzer Big Band R&B Project

Just started mixing a new big band CD for Bob Mintzer recorded live at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh. Great arrangements of some ’70s R&B classics: “It’s Your Thing”, “Sing A Simple Song”, “I Thank You”, and a few others including a great arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s “Elegant People”.

The stellar band includes Will Kennedy, Will Lee, Ray Obiedo, and Russ Ferrante in the rhythm section, and Bob Mintzer, Bob Sheppard, Mike Davis, John Daversa, and a pile of other luminaries.

Look for this early next year.

Billy Childs “Map To The Treasure – Reimagining Laura Nyro”

I posted about this project last November (!!!) – anyway, it’s finally out! A beautiful and ambitious project that Billy’s been talking about doing for about as long as I’ve known him. Features an all-star cast, and beautiful arrangements by Billy. Produced by Larry Klein, I had the pleasure of tracking the basics on this wonderful CD. Tim Palmer did a lovely job mixing it with some really interesting takes on the tracks.

Definitely worth picking up!

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Just spent a very nice 3 days in the studio with the wonderful Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (Scott Tennant, Matt Greif, Bill Kanengiser, John Dearman). The music includes new pieces by Dušan Bogdanović, Ian Krouse, and some very unusual modern arrangements of renaissance pieces.

We recorded at one of my favorite rooms; The Bridge recording studio in Glendale. A truly fabulous room – large enough for a small orchestra, and really great for small chamber ensemble recording (not to mention all kinds of other music).

Mics used were mostly Sennheiser MKH800s, with a pair of ORTF B&K4011s and spaced Neumann TLM50s for room.

Great fun! I think they’ll be doing a Kickstarter campaign soon to generate funds for the completion of the project. Look for them at their Facebook page.

A few quick snaps from the session:

Scott Wilkie “All In”

Scott Wilkie All In
Just finished mixing a very nice CD for keyboardist Scott Wilkie. It’s a contemporary jazz CD featuring lots of luminaries including Jay Beckenstein, Jimmy Haslip, Jay Graydon, Paul Jackson Jr., Vinnie Colaiuta, Jeff Kashiwa, and more.

Available (of course) at Amazon and iTunes.

A Million Ways To Die In The West

A Million Ways To Die In The West

A Million Ways To Die In The West

The movie from Seth MacFarlane is out now, as is the score CD. Really fantastic, dead-ernest classic western score from Joel McNeely.

We recorded for about a week at Sony Scoring in Culver City with 95 of LA’s finest, plus a pickup session at Fox’s Scoring Stage. True to form for Joel, the entire score was recorded by the orchestra all in the room together; no overdubs, no striping, with Joel Conducting. The Bluegrass/Small Group cues were recorded at The Bridge in Glendale with a stellar band featuring George Doering, Dean Parks, Trey Henry, Victor Indrizzo, and the incredible Noam Pikelny and Gabe Witcher from the Punch Brothers.

Proud to have been a part of this; Can’t say enough about Seth’s desire and support for a classic old-school score featuring a *great* large orchestra playing music together in a great room. Had so much fun doing this.

There’s a score CD for this which is well worth getting, and I believe there will be a “Deluxe” version that will feature a few extra cues. Worth going to the theatre for this just to listen to the score!

Billy Childs’ Laura Nyro Project

Had the privilege of tracking the basics for a new Billy Childs project for a few days at Henson Studio A; reimagining the music of Laura Nyro. Larry Klein is producing with a fantastic band: Billy on piano, Brian Blade and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Scott Colley and Carlitos Del Puerto on bass, Dean Parks guitar, Carol Robbins on harp, and Moira Smiley on vocals.

There’s going to be a whole host of guest stars on this including Yo Yo Ma, Lisa Fischer, Layla Hathaway, Alison Krauss, Wayne Shorter, Renée Fleming, Dianne Reeves, Chris Bhotti, Shawn Colvin, Rickie Lee Jones, Esperanza Spalding, and probably a bunch more that I can’t remember or don’t know about right now.

Really cool to be in the room with all these amazing players, listening to them play some beautiful music.

I think this is expected out around mid to end of 2014??

Ryan Cohan – The River

Ryan Cohan’s new CD “The River” is out. This is a GREAT CD, with a terrific band that’s been playing together for years, knows the material cold, and is really going for it on this CD.

We recorded this last year in Chicago at Hinge Studios. The CD is co-produced by Ryan and Steve Rodby, and it was a wonderful project to work on – one of the highlights of last year for me. I strongly recommend it!

More info on Ryan’s website here.

Yellowjackets – “A Rise In The Road”

The new Yellowjackets CD “A Rise In The Road” just came out. As usual, a beautiful CD from the fellas. We recorded this at Bill Schnee’s studio in Studio City. A wonderful room, Bill designed and built this room completely around his preferences; all the gear is highly modified, and he has an amazing console built from scratch with his own Jensen topology mic pres, modified B&B equalizers, and a minimal signal path. The room is LARGE and sounds wonderful, a great piano, and a terrific mic selection.

This CD is the first without Jimmy Haslip on bass, and Felix Pastorius is the lucky guy to try and fill his shoes – Bob played for years with Jaco (Felix’s dad), and knew Felix, so there was a nice connection, and it was great hearing and meeting Felix. On a couple of the ballads I even got to record his daddy’s bass!

More info on Mack Avenue’s web site here.

6/2013 Aga Zaryan – Conway

Nice week in the studio with a fine jazz singer from Poland named Aga Zaryan. The music was a mix of Nina Simone and Abby Lincoln songs, plus a few more contemporary pieces.

A Stellar band of Geri Allen on Piano, Brian Blade on drums, Larry Koonse on guitar, Darek Oles on bass, and Carol Robbins on harp.

Really great to be back in Conway C; I LOVE the sound of this room, and the recently rebuilt Hamburg Steinway ‘D’ and complete re-switching of the Neve 88 makes this one of the nicest rooms in town, and a pleasure to work in.

A few snaps, sadly, none of Aga:

Dave Slonaker Big Band 3/2013

Wow – what an amazing project! We recorded this in 2012 at Capitol studio A, and mixed it the last few weeks. Dave is an extremely gifted composer and arranger who’s career has been mostly orchestrating for film; the list of films he’s worked on goes on and on, but I knew Dave from Eastman as a big band writer. He’s gone back to that for this CD, and got an incredible line up: Peter Erskine, Ed Zach, Edwin Livingston, Larry Koonse, Bob Sheppard, Brian Scanlon, Rob Lockhart, Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Clay Jenkins, Ron Stout, Bill Reichenbach, Bob McChesney, Alex Isles, etc, etc…

Anyway, great writing, great playing, some amazing solos – a fantastic CD.

More info here.


Andy Milne’s Dapp Theory 2/2013

Been in the studio this week mixing a new Andy Milne Dapp Theory CD. I’ve known about Andy for ages and was really excited to be involved in this project. Soulful music crossing the boundaries between Jazz, funk, and hip-hop from a great piano player and a wonderful band. Produced by Jimmy Haslip, it was really nice to meet and work with Andy – I have no idea when this will be released, but I’ll post again when it comes out.

Vince Mendoza 11/2011

Vince Mendoza’s new CD “Nights On Earth” is out this week – there’s some pics and a bit more detail in one of my earlier posts here.  It’s an *AMAZING* project, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.  More here.

Seth MacFarlane 10/2011

Seth’s new album “Music Is Better Than Words” released this week. Really great album/CD (yes, it’s available on vinyl), featuring Seth singing with 55+ pieces at Capitol Studios – we recorded the album to double 24s analog, 30ips, no noise reduction. Used lots of old mics, etc… but really, it comes down to cutting with all the musicians on the floor together with Seth, some fantastic musicians and arrangements, and *great* singing from Seth, with some nice guest appearances from Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles. I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. There’s also a companion video of an evening of this music filmed at Club Nokia and mixed by yours truly, airing on the EpixHD channel. Check ’em out!

"Music Is Better Than Words"

6/2011 All American Rejects

Pretty wild session today over at Warner Brothers on the Eastwood Stage; Orchestra recording for the All American Rejects – straightforward, right? Well, the Rejects wanted to record one song (“Affection”) live with the orchestra; this means full drums, 2 *loud* electric guitars, bass, piano, and vocal live. We were able to iso the drums and guitars, but vocals and piano would need to be on the floor with orchestra. I thought this was a recipe for disaster, but the band was adamant that they could do it, so… Lo and behold, it was a beautiful thing; those guys are pros, no ruined takes because of lousy band performances, everybody came through with flying colors. The band’s engineer (Ian MacGregor) did a great job getting basic rhythm sounds on the band, and we sort of split the board up between us to get it done quickly and efficiently. The crew at WB was fantastic, and made it all seem fairly easy!

I don’t know when this will release – maybe 2012? We did 5 songs; 3 straight orchestral/string overdubs, the live-with-band track, and 1 simple little horn chart.

Good Stuff!

4/2011 Lyle Mays at TEDx update

The show of Lyle’s at the TEDx event in Pasadena has been posted. We recorded this on January 14th, 2011 at CalTech.

A few techie details; This was my first time trying out the Earthworks piano mic system, and I have to say it came through very well! Piano was on short stick with a fair amount of stage level, but no problem – you can get a good idea of the quality of it during the solo section midway through the video.

Check it out!

2/2011 Grammys

Billy Childs won a Grammy today for his amazing “Autumn – In Moving Pictures”. If you haven’t heard this incredible project, it’s worth checking out here.

You can see his acceptance speech here (with a shameless plug for engineering!).