Readers, hold on to your britches because there’s new recorded Danderfer out there to be had! Bassist Paul Rushka included me on his debut recording and the pleasure was all mine. The record, entitled “As It Happens” features a number of my favourite Vancouver musicians: Jillian Lebeck, Dave Sikula, and Joe Poole and of course, Paul.
Of course, up until this release, Paul’s finest work could be found on a little gem of a record called “Accelerated Development” , in fact that would be a good album to pick up, you know,… just as a Paul Rushka starter record before you pick up his solo debut.
But I digress,… one of my favourite aspects of Paul’s bass playing has always been his sound; not only is it deep, woody, and deeply woody, it’s also recognizable, which is quite an accomplishment in itself. In recent years however, I’ve seen a new side of Paul, and I’m not talking about the side I saw at his wedding celebration, I’m talking about Rushka the composer. His songs are rhythmically sophisticated and above all, very melodic. When we recorded the album last year at Brad Turner‘s studio, it went pretty smoothly. Sure, there’s always nerves in the studio but we had already performed the music a number of times and were therefore relatively prepared to lay the contemporary smack down.
But you don’t always have the luxury of performances under your belt when you head into the studio.
For example,… I was honoured to be invited to record a song with trumpeter extraordinaire Chris Davis on his latest recording project,… Christmas tunes. Sounds easy enough, a few Ho Ho Hot licks and call it “radio-play friendly”; but Chris has worked up some beautiful and unique arrangements of these songs and the one I played was quite difficult,… deceptively difficult actually. “Angels We Have Heard On High” in 7/4, fast, with many a passing inverted triads to navigate. If you dont know what that means, it means it’s difficult for me to improvise on. And I practiced the music, really, I was pretty good about it, but when the tape was rolling, that little bit of added tension was enough to derail my less-than-rock-solid train. You see, I was mislead by the fact that I could get through the blowing pretty easily in rehearsal, but “pretty easy” will only get you by in a no pressure situation.
Now, its quite possible I’m developing a neurosis about recording but unless you’re recording all the time, the experience is akin to being under a microscope, trying not to try while you try not think of how each note you play is being indelibly marked in time, to be scrutinized at a later date when they sift through your pile of takes to find something usable.
And so while I stood there that day, in front of the studio microphone, nervously floundering through take # 8, I was
haunted reminded of something my teacher at McGill, Jan Jarczyk had said to me: “You can assume that you’ll lose about 30% of your performance quality in concert, so you have to counter that by being 120% prepared.”
Wise words indeed Jan, the kind of wisdom which only seems to inhabit my brain while repeating the very same mistakes it’s meant to avoid.
Thankfully, you only need one decent take to not sound like fool on record, and after a whole bunch of takes, yours truly delivered!… I think. Hopefully they can chop out the weak parts, loop some hot licks, quantify it, and BAMBO,… trademark Danderfer hotness.
Whether or not my tune makes the album, I can assure you it’s gonna be a fun record, Chris and the rhythm section sounded great.