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|Tue, May 12, 2015 at 1:27 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Michael Jackson: The Quincy Years
My brother Brad asked me,"What was MJ's best album?" This is a hard question and almost impossible to answer. My cousin Teshenia says I need to answer things better; however, this is still a trick question. WHY? All three Q-produced albums invoke a special flavor in musical history and importance. So here's my break down:
"Off the Wall"
This is MJ's most SOULFUL album. Powered by Louis Johnson (bassist, and of the Brothers Johnson), John Robinson on Drums (from Chaka Khan and Rufus), Greg Phillinganes (MJ's Musical Director, Stevie Wonder, Toto, Amp's Cousin, and a DETROITER!!!), Larry Carlton, Marlo Henderson, and David Williams on guitars, Paulinho Da Costa on Percussion, that money making horn section of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, William Reichenbach, Larry Williams, and Kim Hutchcroft, and many others, THIS ALBUMS HAS FLAVOR!!!!!!!!!!!
Why it Could be called the GREATEST: Don't Stop, Working, Rock with You, Off the Wall...man. This songs will inspire anybody to write music and PRACTICE. Try solo in B major on "Don't Stop." Heck, arrange Off the Wall..Eb minor! SMh..too much funk!
One MAJOR note about this album. It is the only one out of the three to have Strings and Full Horn Section on a song. This orchestral sound is not found on Bad or Thriller.
Why it can't be call the GREATEST: two reasons, "It's the Falling in Love" and "Burn this Disco Out." If that wasn't enough, even Michael said he needed to make an album that would be talked about after he was disappointed at the American Music Awards
OK OK OK!!!! It's hard to talk about arguably the greatest album ever produced. But does this make it his BEST album? More Keyboard effects here via Greg Phillinganes and David Paich to give it the new defined "pop" sound instead of "soul." Let's get to the point. The only flaw, and I mean, THE ONLY flaw with this album (from an instrumentalist point of view) is that it makes you want to produce on a higher level. This album doesn't send you to the practice room. It makes you want to get an SM57 mic for your snare drum and a NEVE console to record on, but doesn't make you practice your horn. However, it does make you think about when you make an album, is it sonically flawless? Best PRODUCED album EVER!
Why it Could be called the GREATEST: best produced album ever.
Why it can't be call the GREATEST: .....well...........just nitpicking, but doesn't make me practice (only diehard instrumentalists will get a kick out of that point!).
Here's the deal with Bad. You get deeper in MJ's mind. With him writing more songs on this one, you get to hear his creativity. Creativity that was stirring in his mind for years that he couldn't unless at Motown. yeah, he was young at motown, but that doesn't mean he didn't have idea's. The Jackson Five had no artistic control, the Jacksons had a lil more, but on BAD, MJ had total control whereas Q made sure it was tight!
Why it Could be called the GREATEST: MJ's most creative. Some might argue, Dangerous, but....nope. Seven No. 1's!?!? This album also changed the game with subsequent video releases. AWESOME!!!
Why it can't be call the GREATEST: Musically not as invigorating as "Off the Wall." More entertaining (and some darn good videos, even though, "Leave Me Alone" was a lil' esoteric.)
So that is my take! I just thought I'd write some mind-stirring stuff!
Best produced MJ album
His most self-artistic, strategically-planned album
|Tue, May 12, 2015 at 1:12 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
There was a gentleman who told me that he had a professor who said "arranging was the same thing as composing."
Au contraire mon frère, ce n'est pas vrai. There is a huge DIFFERENCE. I think the best way for me to talk about this is to talk about the arranging field with some history.
According my research, arranging as we know it started with Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, and Paul Whitman (with Henderson and Redman being influenced by Louis Armstrong playing with them briefly). We hear popular songs which are "arranged" for this type of music and bands in NYC. They would take songs made popular form musicals and later on, movies, and play them in their ensembles. Think about songs we all play/learn from our Fake Books:
How High the Moon
Almost Like Being in Love
My Favorite Things
All the Things You Are
There Will never be Another You
I love You
Over the Rainbow
Someday My Prince Will Come
These are all from MOVIES and MUSICALS. These were not premiered by Ella, Dizzy, and Bird but made famous in the African-American community by them. Let it be known, they did not write these!
We all know Fletcher Henderson's frustration. However, a great thing happened when he was arranging for Benny Goodman. Now, how much money did he make off the record sales
of Benny Goodman. Zero. WHY? Because those were his ARRANGEMENTS, not his compositions.
Ella Fitzgerald made us all learn the changes of How High the Moon; however, Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis made a profit off of her albums!
Frank Sinatra's sound was made by Nelson Riddle and Billy May (just to name a few). How much money did they make from records? We don't know, but I assure you, with me knowing LA union rules, probably nothing. Why? They ARRANGED the songs
Many people still to this day listen to the music of Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. They all had fabulous arrangers: Charles Stepney, TOM TOM 84, Jerry Hey, Paul Riser, and David Van De Pitte. Could you imagine Reasons without the symphony? Or the descending Db major 7th chord on My Cherie Amour? At the end of the day, it's not their music, it's someone else's.
I have two friends who repeatedly annoy me with something. They place their name on their arrangements and do not place the composers name on it. BIG NO NO! It is your arrangement, true, but it's NOT your music. This does not set a good example of your students in this field. They need to learn to READ the credits and find out who wrote it. (Oops, I said "read").
I remember when I arranged for the University of Michigan Marching Band. They had to pay Jobete and Black Bull Music for permission to perform the music (this was the most expensive show that year). Why am I saying this? They can, at any given time, audit your arrangements. How blasphemous would it be to have your music audited and Stevie Wonder's name isn't on it? At the end of the day, it's not my music, it's someone else's.
Point and Summary
Arranging, no matter what, is still the reworking of someone else's idea. I don't care how fancy it is, it is someone else's melodic idea and their form. Yes, you can use melodic development, fragmentation, transposition, retrograde, inversion, and retrograde-inversion all throughout the piece (which are compositional techniques.) However, at the end of the day, it's not my music, it's someone else's.
I love arranging. It taught me instrumentation. It allowed me to test out of the instrumentation class (Music 371) at the University of Michigan. I will probably arrange until my last breath (I'm actually looking for another marching band to arrange for routinely). However, I won't receive any royalties from any of my fifty jazz-band arrangements (with multiple difficulty variations) and 150 marching-band arrangements. If I were to receive a royalty, it would be pennies at best. Why? It's not my music.
|Tue, May 12, 2015 at 1:07 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Production 101: Rhythm Section
The most influential album in my life is arguably Quincy Jones' Sounds and Stuff Like That. In the liner notes (written by Alex Haley) Q calls Anthony Jackson, Eric Tee, Phil Upchurch, and Grady Tate the greatest rhythm section in the world.
As a youth, this was the first time I had ever heard the term "rhythm section". And truth be told, this was an amazing rhythm section. I even learned how rhy. sections would record first in EVERY studio section. This means they have to be tight.
Things to remember:
1) Pick your rhythm section wisely. They MUST gel. If they don't, your recordings will reflect.
2) If you aren't rehearsing, make SURE they can READ!!!!!
3) Make sure they can play with a click track. Yes, I have played with some that can't. AARGH!
4) Make sure they can play the style you want to record. (Yes, some people try to get a church
drummer to play afro-cuban and songo and they've never heard of it..)
I have recorded my rhythm section with NO rehearsals. They came in a sight-read the charts to highest degree. I believe I have been blessed with the greatest in the world! Time for shout-outs:
I was blessed to have keyboardists Demetrius Nabors and Al McKenzie appear on four songs on "A Tale of Two Fools." Man, they are phenomenal!!!
Guitarists Duane Collins, Sandy Love, Wayne Goins added that flavor that every album needs! My wife's cousin, Don Vappie, will be recording soon.
Bassists Ibrahim Jones, Marcus Belgrave Jr, Bobby Scharmann, and Freeman Spills laid the groove done HARD. People will be copying your licks forever!
The last two people were crucial to this projects:
Damon Warmarck aka Basso Profundo: My friend since 1992. My brother, thank you for your musical expertise. You coming by to the house to record while I was taking care of my mom was priceless.
Last far from least, my friend forever, I thank you Nate Winn. Out of eighteen songs with drums, you are on fifteen. There is no way this project would be done with you. You are a complete drummer. No style is out of your league. You came in when it was just a piano, you, and a click track. We even came up with songs on the spot! Superb musicianship. The pocket is amazing. The fills were immaculate! This is why you'll forever be "Tightus Pocketus!
|Mon, May 11, 2015 at 1:56 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
On March 7, 1898, a young child was born named Sudie Irene Arnold. Three generation's later her great-granddaughter Althea was born on the same day.
In celebration of these two awesome human beings, Sir Wick Entertainment is having a free preview/download of Rafael Statin's "Althea's Song" for a limited time only!
Happy Birthday to my great-grandmother Irene
Happy Birthday to my beloved sister, Althea.
Althea's Song (C. Hughes)
Rafael Statin, Tenor Saxophone
Sir Wick, Trombone
Ian Finkelstein, Piano
Tony Lannen, Bass
Alex Smith, Drums
Recorded and Mixed by Andy Toth
Mastered by Greg Reilly
Â©MMX Chad E. Hughes Admin by Maestrowick Publishing