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Archive for the ‘Production’

My mentors: Joe Fields

July 27th, 2009

Jazz recording entrepreneur Joe Fields
Joe Fields

I’ve been posting quite a few of the records I produced or engineered at the beginning of my career, and lately in particular, the Muse jazz records. Which has gotten me thinking about the incredibly important role Muse Records founder Joe Fields didn’t mean to play in my work life.

Somehow or other I ended up in Joe’s office (above the West 71st Street Bagel Nosh) in 1976 asking for a gig “producing” records (like I even knew what that was). Joe, in his always enthusiastic way, happily gave me an immediate assignment (I think it was the first Linc Chamberland LP), and for the next three or four years I was a willing student in his unintended record business class.

(For those who won’t read the Wikipedia entry,  Joe started Muse inj the early-70s after a long stint at Buddah Records where he started an in-house jazz label Cobblestone. It was a label of jazz “blowing” sessions, meaning it was primarily mainstream jazz artists who’d come in the studio and in two union sessions –six hours– record enough material for a complete album. Muse Records was among the last of its breed, in a day where the most revered mainstreamers had gone corporate. The result was an unparalleled 20+ year archive of jazz in America from 1972-1995. And Joe continues to add to the legacy with HighNote Records.)

I won’t bore you with all the things I got out of those “lessons,” but suffice it to say that Joe had forgotten more than I would ever know. How to pick an artist? How to promote? What to ignore? How to negotiate? What’s important, what’s not? When’s a good time to take a chance? Who was Juggy Murray? What was ‘producing’ anyhow?

A few of my Muse Records productions
Hank Jones > 'Bop Redux Hank Jones > Groovin' High Willis Jackson - In The Alley Willis Jackson > The Gator Horn Willis Jackson Jaki Byard Linc Chamberland > A Place Within Harold Ousley Walter Bishop Jr. > Hot House Don Patterson > Movin' Up! Dom Salvador Joe Chambers > Double Exposure  Carlos Garnett harvest+2 Junior Cook > Good Cookin' Eric Kloss > Now Together blank square blank square blank square

Joe introduced me to the real world. Without him I never would’ve gotten to work with 24 track recording, or get to meet the legendary Rudy Van Gelder. To say nothing of the artists like Hank Jones, Willis Jackson, Jaki Byard, or the others. And, he didn’t mean to change my musical tastes –I’m sure it was of no consequence to him whatsoever– but I walked in dedicated avant gardist and walked out a lifelong soul jazz devotee. (Soul jazz didn’t only sell better and longer, but was a lot more fun.)

There was a lot of history in Joe that I just soaked up and it was always fun dropping by the office just to listen to him on the telephone, working it with an artist, a studio, or maybe a distributor or radio station. Things that were second nature to him were golden to my uneducated ears, and I just couldn’t get enough. My only complaint is that I wanted more. More projects, more time, and more money. Mainly more projects, because they were just so much fun. But, I was going broke on the $250 a record he was paying me, though I now know if he paid me anything more he would’ve gone out of business. Lesson #1, being a survivor in the independent record business is never easy, and probably requires you to disappoint almost everyone wanting a better payday.

It was at a disastrous Muse session in Brooklyn that I called my friend, Muse liner note writer, and future partner Alan Goodman to come and help me figure out whether to stop trying to make a living at record producing and try my hand in the then revolution of cable television. You know who won.

Working with Muse Records was a once in a lifetime, unforgetable experience. Not all the records I worked on for Joe were wonderful. And some were beyond fantastic, truly world class. But, no matter the project, it was a rare privilege Joe Fields allowed me.

Joe was, and continues to be, a generous man. Thanks guy, I couldn’t be a producer without you.

Muse Records LP label

Dig those crazy SFX!

January 7th, 2009


It was a few years ago when I mentioned the 1995 release of the Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library, one of my favorite projects from my time at the studio.  A full, 5-CD quality release of the studios famous sound effects. In the booklet included with the set, studio veteran Paul Douglas came up withthe editors’ all time Top 10 SFX. Here’s his picks from the original release:

“Hanna-Barbera’s Greatest Hits…And Greatest Sproings, Boings and Bonks”

In the long history of the Hanna-Barbera Sound Effect Library, there have been many terrific sound used to great comic effect. But there are a few that stand out as having a familiar ring, the unmistakable quality of having been used for a particular character or bit business. Here are the 10 quintessential effects chosen for the Hanna-Barbera Hall of Fame by longtime H-B editor Paul Douglas.

(Just click on the CD or the link to hear the effect. Each track has three effects, so don’t get confused.)

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

1. Fred Flintstone Scrambling: All cartoon hell breaks loose when Fred is rushing around in a panic.

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

2. Gazoo Materializing: Cartoon sound effects editors sometime have to stretch their imaginations. What does it sound like when Gazoo, the outer space pixie on The Flintstones, comes into view?

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

3. El Kabong’s Guitar Hit: In Quick Draw McGraw’s alter ego as the heroic El Kabong, his only weapon is his guitar. He doesn’t play it; he clobbers the villains with it. An unmistakable sound that adds new meaning to “striking a chord.”

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

4. Fred Drops The Ball: When Fred Flintstone bowls, there’s no telling where the ball will go. Most likely, it will land on his foot. A classic crash from the Stone Age. (The name reveals for the first time how it was made.)

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

5. Barney’s Big Head Take: When a person does a take (one-half of a double take) it doesn’t really make a sound in the normal physical world, but in the cartoon Stone-Age world of Barney Rubble and The Flintstones, it sounds exactly like this!

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

6. Jerry Pulls Tom’s Whiskers: A familiar sound from the Golden Age of cartoons! In those cat-and-mouse classics, Jerry the mouse often pulls the whiskers of Tom the cat. Ouch! (For you musicians: a violin was played pizzicato while sliding up the fingerboard.)

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

7. Fred’s Head Hit: It’s well known that Fred Flintstone has a hard head. But the effects man must determine just how hard. Rock? Granite? Marble? Hard, but too dull. The ringing sound of solid iron does the trick!

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

8. Yogi Bear’s Noogin Klonk: When Yogi gets bumped on the head, he’s usually in the middle of feeding his empty stomach, hence this hollow, klonking sound.

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

9. George Jetson Becomes Jet Screamer: Mr. Jetson turns into a teen-age idol. You have to hear it to understand.

Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library

10. Muttley Bites Dastardly on the Butt: We saved the best for last! This sound is so evocative of Muttley’s powerful jaws clamping onto Dick Dasterdly’s soft posterior, that few who hear it can ever forget it. A sound wit real feeling.

The Hanna-Barbera sound effects.

May 30th, 2006


Alan Goodman’s post about his cartoon schooling reminded me of a huge influence he had on the cartoon revival of the 90s.

Alan and I met in college radio in the early 70s and immediately started working on projects together. Doing audio comedy skits was very popular at our station. One of our favorite discoveries in the record library were some early, scratchy 60s releases of the Hanna-Barbera sound effects library. Our age made us HB freaks, and we had the greatest time mining the stuff for our productions.

Fast forward, against all odds I become the president of Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1992, and one of the first calls I got was from Alan asking when I was going to get him the ‘official’ library. After months of useless bureaucracy I found out the veteran studio personal was completely dismissive of this part of their hertiage, given that some of the effects dated back to the 1940s and Bill Hanna’s supervision of the Tom & Jerry production.

I’ll spare you the boredom, but after five years we finally released the library in the quality treatment it deserved. I’m still hearing those 60 year old effects in commercials (and cartoons). I feel like Alan did a good thing.