Today was long and incredible.
I was up early to take Dante to the vet (it's his 'special day'), and I worked for Ben in the morning.
Early afternoon, I headed over to the studio to watch 2 sessions. The first to arrive was clarinet player extraordinaire, John Jorgenson. (John is also a great, Django-style guitar player. He's so well known for it, that he's endorsed several guitars through ad campaigns, and there's actually a guitar model named for him!) The moment John heard what we were doing musically, he locked into the style. He did everything by ear - no charts or lead sheets. Aaron recorded the clarinet on an RCA "ribbon" mic, which was very old and cool looking. It traps the sound using a vibrating ribbon inside the mic, and apparently, this is the mic of choice for this style of playing.
For "Moving Up To Gloryland", he listened and played along with the little fills that are replacing the traditional vocal bass leads. On "Do You Wanna Be My Neighbour", he just played all out in a Dixieland, big band style. If we were playing live, that's what all the musicians would do, and this way Aaron can have lots of choice and just piece together the parts that work perfectly. As soon as I heard what John was doing, I knew I wanted him on "Wedding at Cana", and luckily, Aaron felt the same way. It sounded so good! It's amazing how that one instrument just lifted all the tracks to a new level. John was a very cool guy too, so the whole session was very fun and inspiring.
While waiting for the next session, I listened to a few near-ready mixes - "Shepherd of the Hills", "Sin Ain't Nothing", and "Real Big Fan". Things are sounding great! I know it sounds weird when I say this, but it's sounding like a real CD! You know, not just something you'd record in your basement, but a real CD like you'd buy in a store. It's so exciting to hear it all coming together!
Soon, our BGV singers arrived: Reggie and Ladye Love Smith. I first knew them through the Gaither stuff, and then through the school. And here's the cool (some might say 'geeky') part: Last year, before moving to Nashville, I wrote out my dream team of who I wanted for my CD. Now some people, like Aaron and Johnny, didn't make the list because, well, I just didn't know enough about their talents. But guess who I had on my list for background singers? Reggie and Ladye Love! How cool is that??? I just love their work, and I really felt they'd be a good fit for my voice and this music, and it actually came true today!
They arrived in a whirlwind, and once the music started, all that energy went into the song. And at work, they are truly amazing. As soon as each song started, they would just start humming notes, and choosing who would sing what line. They speak in that "we're-married-and-we-work-together-all-the-time" shorthand. It was just impressive to see how quickly the parts were formed. Even on the the first pass, things would be almost perfect. And they spoke in numbers too - "You sing the 5 and I'll sing the 9." Crazy!
We started with "At The Cross". Aaron joined them on baritone, so we had a good choral fullness on the harmonies. Next we moved on to "Neighbour". It became really clear that this would sound good with just Ladye singing 2 parts, and it developed into an Andrew Sisters type thing. Some of the intervals were really tricky, and this probably took the longest of all the songs. ("longest" being relative, as they work so quickly!) It was very cool to see Reggie and Aaron working with Ladye to work out the parts and get the phrasing perfect. And they loved the song, which thrilled me to no end! Ladye asked to take the lyric home, she loved it so much! Smiling, happy me!
We discussed adding stuff to "Faith Will Take You Farther" and "In Less Than a Moment", but decided, for various reasons, that they were better just as they are. In listening to "Wedding at Cana" earlier, we decided the harmonies needed a little beefing up. Monika did great work on it, but as the mix has developed, her beautiful breathy vocals were floating too far above the rest of the track. So we quickly laid down more parts for it, and it all sounded great in the end.
Next week, Aaron is bringing in a saxophone player for another project, and he'll get him to add a little something to "Real Big Fan". On Wednesday, I'm having my photos done. I'm also starting to collect my lyrics, credits, thank you's, etc, for the liner notes.
Oh, and I think I've decided on a title for the CD: "Real Big Fan". It pretty much says all I want to say!