"I've seen her evolve constantly and consistently as a writer and vocalist. When we first met, I was a recording artist for Dave Grusin's GRP label under the name of 'Yutaka.' I contacted her because I wanted her to write some lyrics to my song. We hit it off right away, and from then on she's been coming to my studio for the recording. As a musician, I find her evolving astounding in her ideas, her literary abilities, her vocal performances and of course that Lorraine Featherism that you find in all of her compositions. She's a true one of a kind. I am so fortunate to get to be a part of this team."
Geoff Gillette has been recording music since the mid-1970s, capturing for eternity a Who's Who list that includes B.B. King, Dori Caymmi, Jon Hendricks, Yo-Yo Ma, Sergio Mendes, T-Bone Burnett and Flora Purim. Like Rudy Van Gelder and the other great ones, he is the music world's version of the gentle family doctor who is a master of the recording arts and sciences, empirical and hard-nosed in doing what is needed to breathe life. In person, Gillette is the warmest, kindest sort of gentleman, but as an engineer, he is a nuts-and-bolts technician all the way. Since Edison got his patent, there has never been anything natural about a sound recording, except in the end result. When I compared Gillette's recordings favorably to Van Gelder's, he did just what he should have: he ignored the compliment, and explained how it is that he (and Carlos Del Rosario) recorded Lorraine Feather in such a way that listening to her CD feels like sitting in the room with her and her band:
"There are a lot of elements adding up to why her records sound the way they do, starting with the writers and the musicians she's assembled. Lorraine has created a great team that has been fairly consistent over the years, the newest great addition being Dave Grusin on the Attachments album.
"The recording process is usually done at Entourage Studio in North Hollywood, where I have recorded probably close to fifty records over the years. I know the room well. It's a great-sounding wood room with a vintage Neve console to record through. Recording through this particular piece of analog equipment makes a big difference. Then, of course, it's a matter of putting the right microphones in the right places. Lorraine's vocals are always recorded using a beautiful, restored Neumann U67 tube microphone.
"What is interesting about the way Lorraine makes records is that she'll do two or three songs at a time, and then several months go by before the next session, while she's working on the next songs. We hardly notice that we've done a whole record, when one day, Lorraine announces that the recording is done and it's time to mix.
"The good thing about the way we mix is that we take our time, and are continuously revisiting each mix, listening on many different systems and making notes and adjustments as we go. There are four of us doing the reviewing: Eddie Arkin, Carlos, myself, and of course, Lorraine. There's a lot of attention to detail, especially making sure we hear and understand all of Lorraine's wonderful lyrics. We call this part of the process 'nit-picking,' and we have some special techniques in balancing Lorraine's vocals with the band. This multiple scrutinization adds up to a refinement that ends up with everyone happy. What's great is that Lorraine always goes the full nine yards in allowing this to happen. Mixing by committee seems to work very well.
"Also, for the last two records, the mixes have been put through a Neve summing device which puts digital mixes back through analog, giving it an even bigger, warmer sound. The final step is a good mastering with Bernie Grundman and voila, there you have it.
"One of my favorite things in life is making a Lorraine Feather record. I can't wait till we start the next one..."
Photo credits Page 1, Geoff Gillette, Lorraine Feather, Carlos Del Rosario: Eddie Arkin Page 2, Dave Grusin: Andy Ihnatko Page 3, Shelly Berg: Jim Wadsworth Productions Page 4, Eddie Arkin: Timothy Teague Page 7, Russell Ferrante: Mitch Haupers
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