Equinox Jazz Band

Recording the Equinox Jazz Orchestra with members of the Nashville Jazz Orchestra

Last week, I recorded two very different, very exciting projects. First, Equinox Jazz Orchestra leader Jeremy Davis came to town with conductor Tommy Brinson, arranger/co-producer Bach Norwood, and singers Clay Johnson and Adam Jones. Recording for their new CD took place at Sound Emporium Studio A with members of the Nashville Jazz Orchestra filling the chairs. Equinox is a 18 piece, “Rat Pack” style big band that performs songs in the true Rat Pack tradition. We recorded classics like “Old Devil Moon”, “Lady Is a Tramp, and Billy May’s Frank Sinatra arrangement of “Luck Be A Lady”(an all-time favorite of mine). The band swung hard and the singers were great, nailing master vocals live with the band.

Next, show producer Brian Knowlton came up from Sea World San Antonio and we recorded tracks for Shamu’s Rockin’ Creepshow, a Halloween show featuring that most famous of Orcas, Shamu. Very fast and very fun, the show features cover songs by artists ranging from Metallica, Ozzy, AC/DC to Stevie Wonder and Kool and The Gang. We assembled an amazing band for the tracks (which were recorded here at My Space Recording), the incredible Tony Morra on drums, Craig Nelson playing bass, John Deaderick on keys (he kills on the B-3) and Paul Brannon and Gary Burnette on guitars. Dann Shafer and Jason Eskridge added vocals and arranger Chris McDonald wrote horn charts for brass overdubs by trumpeter Steve Patrick, sax player Mark Douthit and Chris on trombone. The tracks are just killer (if I say so myself) and good time was had by all.

I’m mixing the project in 5.1 specifically for the venue, and some unique playback techniques for the show were accommodated during both tracking and mix. Because the show features animal performers who don’t do everything with the same timing show after show, an interactive playback system is being implemented now. Sections of each musical number were extended during tracking so that musical elements can be looped, added and cued in response to the animal’s own timing. Though it requires a little extra planning during music production, I think this will be the way all of these shows run in the future. It’s easier on the animals and will feel more natural to the audience. Exciting stuff!

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