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Filmmaker Denny Tedesco

Alan Bryson By

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Although the '60s and '70s are considered by many to be a golden era in music, for decades the people who played the instruments on many of the most popular and iconic recordings of that era were essentially unknown. Fortunately, over the last couple of decades that has begun to change. Several excellent music documentary films have helped these great studio musicians and session players get the respect they deserve. Documentaries such as Muscle Shoals, Standing in the Shadow of Motown, and the aptly named Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story have shed light on the contribution of musicians few people had ever heard of, although their music was heard by billions. This month another music documentary is being released which focuses on The Wrecking Crew, the studio and session musicians working in Los Angeles in the '60s.

Some might be tempted to think this is someone seeking to glom on, but in fact Denny Tedesco, the producer and director, began filming in 1996, when his late father, Tommy Tedesco, the renowned session guitarist, was diagnosed with cancer. As you will hear in this interview, it's been a long and arduous endeavor to get this film released, but thankfully the wait is over. In contrast to some of the other studio bands, the session work in Los Angeles was multifaceted. There was a large group of top players workings their butts off from early in the morning til late at night in television, film, as well as top recording studios for the major music labels, and gigs with small independents. Imagine, there were over twenty top guitars working there, with legendary producers like Phil Spector, and sessions players such as Leon Russell, Dr. John, and Glen Campbell who went on to become solo artists in their own right.

It's a fascinating story, and after speaking with Denny Tedesco I'm looking forward to seeing The Wrecking Crew. A few years back I had the chance to do an in depth interview with guitarist Louie Shelton, a member of the Wrecking Crew. It is one of the most popular and most recommended interviews I've done for All About Jazz, so after you listen to this interview, you can also read Louie Shelton's fascinating account of that time here.

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