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A Few Tracks

I have mentioned several times that I have with me a CD left over from my time in Brazil that came out more or less the way I wanted. It was done in 1995-1996. I was no longer a practicing musician, but this project came up and I was able to impose some conditions, despite a very small budget. So I did it. A very good CD called "JJ Jackson" was the result.

JJ should not be confused with the MTV media personality. The real name of my JJ is Leo Robinson. He is pretty famous in Brazil. Here in the USA, he used to sing with Jimi Hendrix in the early days in a band called The Rocking Kings.

It's funny, but the musicians, with the exception of a couple of soloists and the backup singers, were the weakest I have ever worked with (high school students for the core band and freelance military band brass—which is what I got after I fired the professionals), but this is the pop record that gave me the most artistic satisfaction performance-wise. I worked those poor dudes to death! Posted Image

Here are 4 tracks from the CD.

I wrote the first song below with JJ. The harmonica player, Marizias, was in school at the time and the guitar soloist is one of Brazil's finest, Antenor Gandra. He embodies the most valuable principle I learned in pop music. It is usually expressed by a person holding his arms wide open and saying, "Know this." Then the person puts his palms about 2 or 3 inches apart and says, "But play this."

My work with Marizias in this track was one of the most satisfying experiences with a young person, and with Antenor, one of the most satisfying experiences with a famous virtuoso artist I ever had in my pop music career. This track, although not as pop as most of my other pop work, received the best air play of the CD on jazz, culture, and easy listening radios in Brazil. It is more a musician's track than for the general public. But we managed to to all the interactions in a collage-like texture without getting too technical, and without getting too coy (which is a real danger and can turn heartfelt pain into self-pity).

It could have been tighter, I suppose, but we went without a metronome to get a more "live" sound. Many folks in Brazil told me they liked it like that, although it always bugged me a bit after it was recorded.

Incidentally, I wrote this song about my break-up with a woman (an ex-Playboy bunny) in my wild days who ran through all my money during a torrid love affair. Then when it became clear that I really did not have any more money, she said, "Baby, I can't stay with you if you don't have any more money." (And that was that, because that's what they do... Posted Image )

You Don't Give a Damn About Me

I would love to say I did the arrangement and production of the next track, but I only wrote the song (with Michel Butnariu). It was the theme song of a famous actress in Brazil, Adriane Esteves, during a prime-time soap opera on SBT, Razão de Viver. I think the groove Paul Mounsey put together for this song is fantastic. I have some quibbles on the production (details about the mix, flugel solo, etc.), but all-in-all, he did a really good job.

Blue Rose

Here's an arrangement and production I did of a song by Joe Medwick (made famous by Jimi Hendrix). Instead of gut-bucket blues, we did a more souped up version. The alto sax solo by one of Brazil's finest, Proveta, was another extremely satisfying experience I had. We recorded that solo about 20 times until we settled on this one. I wanted a feel right between pop and jazz. Between the yelps, hoarse texture and yackety-yak-type playing, we nailed it. (I get really tired of jazzy scales and arpeggios, or overly-simple solos in this kind of sound.) I had to fire our brass and the brass arranger after they did this track (it was not very good although the musicians were). I put together something at the last minute to replace that stuff, so I have a quibble or two with this arrangement. Still, I believe we got a great groove and it is highly danceable.

Further on up the Road

As a final track, JJ and I decided to improvise a work without any instruments at all. We added a few words to a song by Hank Ballard and I had JJ sing on one track over another, then another, then another, etc. No other singer participated (except for me in a small part to patch an error). I'm including this one just because I like what we did. Just JJ and me (and the best sound engineer I have ever worked with, Daniel Pessanha).

Finger Poppin' Time

Frankly, it pains me to haul out this stuff because I have so much more in me. But it is getting time to implement some new ideas.

I do hope you enjoy these songs.

Michael

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Got it, fergitted, using a borrowed machine whilst waiting fer my MacPro...

Ok, me go listen. Hope you tuned that thing and used enough Doubly<tm> :)

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Cool, I have been doing some recording lately myself on my laptop. It's amazing how difficult it is to get the sound you want and of course I don't have any proper recording equipment either but it's fun!

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"Cool, I have been doing some recording lately myself on my laptop. It's amazing how difficult it is to get the sound you want and of course I don't have any proper recording equipment either but it's fun!"

If you get a cheap USB audio interface, all you need is that and a low impedance mic, it will come out much better.

It's either that or run a mic through a direct box. If you go right into the mic input on the laptop, it's unbalanced, so it buzzes and such.

r

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I've been using a borrowed PC so it's delayed me hearing this stuff, had to ask MSK a few questions, just started going over it.

Well, it beats doing a silhouette of an archer (again). Inside joke, sort of.

This is luxurious stuff, excellent arranging/engineering all around. I know Mike didn't do it alone, but it's got him all over it.

I've been wanting to hear his work for years, and I know that's just a llittle taste of what he can fully do.

I have at least enough credentials for a valid pro opinion, and I say this is fine work. Tasty!

r

Waiting to see his scary rate sheet, because I know he's going to be expensive if I try to get him someday.

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"Cool, I have been doing some recording lately myself on my laptop. It's amazing how difficult it is to get the sound you want and of course I don't have any proper recording equipment either but it's fun!"

If you get a cheap USB audio interface, all you need is that and a low impedance mic, it will come out much better.

It's either that or run a mic through a direct box. If you go right into the mic input on the laptop, it's unbalanced, so it buzzes and such.

r

Yeah, I've researched into different sound interfaces but I was leaning towards a PCI one because I heard that latency can be a problem when using USB. Ever see one of these?

http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=produc...D=PCIinterfaces

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General S.:

Oh yeah, M-Audio products, for sure. Sold lots of 'em, been trained up by the co., even got to meet the owner once (my he's a piece of work, great guy)...

These are very, very good interfaces. And sure, the PCI interfaces are great. Great deals, pretty much top of that market as far as sales and such.

Basically, the latency issues are all but gone these days, thanks to better computers, better interfaces, etc. If you're running Firewire over USB, big big speed difference.

If you like their stuff and want to get into recording more, check out their studio software ("Reason").

Yeah, I believe M-Audio is now owned by Digidesign, matter of fact. Everything the M boys make is good. I like their bookshelf monitors too.

r

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Basically, the latency issues are all but gone these days, thanks to better computers, better interfaces, etc. If you're running Firewire over USB, big big speed difference.

If you like their stuff and want to get into recording more, check out their studio software ("Reason").

Yeah, I believe M-Audio is now owned by Digidesign, matter of fact. Everything the M boys make is good. I like their bookshelf monitors too.

r

Well, I am running linux on the laptop and I have no firewire port. I have been using Audacity to lay down tracks. I am just experimenting but someday I will spend some $ and buy some mics, soundcard, monitors, headphones, preamp, etc. I have been playing acoustic guitar and a little violin and piano but it's a whole different ballgame recording and mixing. I wanted to try it out cheaply before I spend some $.

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Linux, huh? Awesome. Maybe you haven't seen this...user article about M-Audio and Linux

http://www.linux.com/feature/126408

Very do-able on the cheap. When you get around to investing in more gear, find me...happen to be really up to speed on the products right now, maybe I could be of help. Last summer I jumped back into selling Pro Audio for a minute (I was one of the gray hairs they brought into Guitar Center) and I got updated nicely.

r

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Linux, huh? Awesome. Maybe you haven't seen this...user article about M-Audio and Linux

http://www.linux.com/feature/126408

Very do-able on the cheap. When you get around to investing in more gear, find me...happen to be really up to speed on the products right now, maybe I could be of help. Last summer I jumped back into selling Pro Audio for a minute (I was one of the gray hairs they brought into Guitar Center) and I got updated nicely.

r

Great, thanks for your help.

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Michael,

Thank you for posting these.

"You Don't Give a Damn about Me" is a really nice laid-back blues. I'm glad you didn't use a metronome; there's supposed to be some looseness on this kind of number.

"Further on Up the Road" is quite danceable. The rhythm on this track is the only thing that might suggest to an outsider that most of the performers were Brazilian. Great alto sax solo; good that you pressed Proveta to keep trying.

The simulated a capella performance of "Finger Poppin' Time" is a lot of fun. Did you know that Hank Ballard and the Midnighters were a favorite of a kid named Frank Zappa, back when he was getting his start in high school bands?

With "Blue Rose," I don't like the song quite as much, and atmospheric washes of synthesizer have never appealed to me (the flugelhorn solo sounds good, though). Again, the rhythm is the only thing that would signal that Brazilians were involved.

Robert

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Robert,

I'm glad you liked them. I'll even forgive you for not liking "Blue Rose," one of my more famous songs in Brazil. (It is popped up gospel, so it isn't for everyone.)

Proveta told me nobody ever did to him before what I did. :)

He said he loved it. He wanted more, but we never crossed paths again in the studios.

Maybe someday...

Michael

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  • 3 months later...

Recently I picked up a CD of three Choros by Heitor Villa-Lobos. This is part of a series on a Swedish label called BIS; the main players are pianist Cristina Ortiz and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

Choros No. 7 is for an ensemble of 5 wind instruments, violin, cello, and (barely audible) tam-tam. One of the 5 winds is an alto saxophone, played with the pale tone and near-absence of vibrato that are still usually called for in classical settings.

The booklet credits the alto sax to Nailor Azevedo aka "Proveta."

The guy gets around...

Robert Campbell

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Michael,

I haven't heard any recordings of the SPSO from the Eleazar de Carvalho era, but in the new BIS series, conducted by John Neschling, it sounds wonderful.

Robert Campbell

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  • 9 months later...

nicholas,

I went to Boston University to study trombone and music composition. I only did 3 years before taking a position as first trombone in the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra in Brazil, so I did not get my degree. In Brazil, while playsing in the orchestra, I studied conducting during about 3 years of private lessons with Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho, evetually becoming his assistant. Then I left the classical music field and went off into pop music and all the rest.

Michael

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