Friday, August 19, 2011

A Place for Perfectionism

There's this disease called "perfectionism", where someone is just never satisfied no matter what. No one wants to be a perfectionist! But as an artist, there are times when you know deep down that something could be a ton better than it is. The question is whether it's worth fixing. Sometimes, the answer is, "Yes it is!"

I've had that situation a couple of times in producing this album. My very first recording session was for the song Morning Aire. When you hear me play it on the piano, it sounds like a classic jazz shuffle, like a "big band" tune from the '40s maybe. But the rhythm I heard in my head was more agressive. During the session, I tried to convey this to the drummer, but he could only hear that big band sound.

I was so happy with James Howard's guitar and bass work, and so excited to have a studio recording of one of my songs, that I let it go. But after a few months, the drum rhythm was bugging me more and more.

Actually, it's more than just me worrying about being a perfectionist. It was about my confidence as an artist. I'm an amateur working with pro musicians. Who am I to know better than the drummer?

A few months ago I found the drummer Garey Williams for an upcoming track. In an email exchange, I sent him the recording of Morning Aire and explained the rhythm I wanted. I wasn't feeling confident that what I wanted even made any sense. But he replied, "I think a 'Bernard Purdie' type of Funk Shuffle will drive the tune more than the current drum part."

"Bernard Purdie shuffle?" I had to search YouTube. Holy crap - Bernard Purdie played on Steely Dan's Aja album! That was exactly the sound I was looking for!

Long story short, I finally got Garey into the studio this past Monday, and with the wonderful support of engineer Jay Kenney at Audio Logic, Garey was able to replace the original drum track on Morning Aire.

Here's a sample of the result:
Morning Aire (sampler) by Leo Brodie

This was one case where I am so glad I insisted on the vision. Tell me what you think.

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