October 11th, 2010 by Joel
Addendum…Here is a great video of the Dregs from 2000, T plays great clavinet and piano solos. I still can’t believe he’s gone. WAY too early. Hurts like mad. So many good friends have passed recently. Grab those you love and keep them close.
My dear friend T Lavitz, the incredible keyboard player, passed away last week. T was a mentor and older brother figure from the time I was 16. He preceded me at the Interlochen Arts Academy by 2 years and had gone on to the University of Miami. He came back during summers to Interlochen and we wound up playing together in bands and becoming great friends. When it came time to choose a college I followed T to Miami. There he was one of the top keyboard players in town and introduced me to so many great musicians including Jaco Pastorius who he had played with. Eventually T got called by Steve Morse to come join the legendary band The Dixie Dregs. It was such great fun watching T become famous and play with such incredible musicians all over the world. We were always so proud of him.
I’ll never forget the night the Dregs were playing at the Roxy in Hollywood. I was backstage watching the show. At some point a small group of people joined me in the wings. I quickly realized it was Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Lyle Mays, Michael Brecker and Don Alias who had just finished playing a show with Joni Mitchell and had come to check out the Dregs show. T made sure I was invited to the party after the show and it was an unforgettable evening of listening to these great musicians tell stories.
I learned so much about life and music from my friend. He was an amazing musician, he was hilarious, he was a great guy and he will always be missed. RIP, T.
October 8th, 2010 by Joel
I’ve found so many wonderful things from reading other people’s blogs that I decided to keep track of stuff I like in an occasional series of blog posts.
So…in no particular order. Scratch that. Music first.
Cara Dillon, Hill of Thieves. This is an incredible record that I never tire of. Cara is a brilliant singer from Ireland who along with husband Sam Lakeman team up to produce amazingly beautiful songs. I had the honor of working with them on the last Tinker Bell. She sang the main song of the film. While we were over there recording her, the Volcano in Iceland left us stranded in the UK for several weeks. So, having nothing to do, I set about writing a song based on a theme of mine from the movie. I emailed a rough demo to Valerie Vagoda and Brendan Milburn in LA who wrote gorgeous lyrics. I sent those to Sam who laid down an acoustic guitar track. Then I wrote a string arrangement which we recorded on the end of our session at Abbey Road. Next it was off on the train to Bath where we recorded Cara’s vocal in an ancient stone home while her twin little boys rolled around on the studio floor. It’s one of the nicest things I’ve been involved with especially because it was unplanned. It’s the very last song of the end credit crawl.
Rob Mathes Orchestral Songs. Gorgeous orchestral settings to Rob’s brilliant songwriting and singing. Many of the songs are set to poems by WB Yeats.
Spartacus A stunning release of Alex North’s incredible score. Released on Varese Sarabande, this is Robert Townson’s 1000 CD as producer, and he puts together a jaw dropping package of 6 CDs, a DVD and a 168 page book. This is the greatest score of all time in my view.
Now to non-music stuff…
Consider the Lobster A collection of essays by David Foster Wallace who is one of the most brilliant writers I’ve ever read. This guy is ultra-smart and hilarious at the same time.
Dave’s Tuna Yes, really. Canned tuna, I know but…this is a small company that fishes off the California coast and brings back amazing fish. This isn’t your mom’s canned tuna. It’s a whole different thing. The Alder Smoked Albacore is ridiculous. And their mail order is a snap.
iPod headphones for swimming. I’ve been swimming a lot lately and these things are amazing. Unfortunately they’re made for the 4th Gen Shuffle, which is no longer being made but I’m sure they’ll adapt to the new models. Anyway, swimming with crystal clear tunes is a revelation. Takes away the crushing boredom of swimming laps.
September 21st, 2010 by Joel
No that isn’t me. I’m old and moldy.
Why return to a neglected Blog? Why waste time writing something no one will likely ever read? Maybe because I just can’t cram my thoughts into a Twitter box. And this is good therapy. I need lots of that.
The return also must mean I’ve got a smidgeon of discretionary time on my hands. This is rare. Not much, but enough to screw off for a few minutes and tap away.
Now then…back to blogging. Rusty, but here goes…K, I’ve just had the best time. For years now I’ve admired and loved the music of the extraordinary composer/ mandolinist/ songwriter/ singer Chris Thile. This is a man who simply oozes music from every pore. He is the most interesting and naturally ginormously gifted musician to come along in a very long time. Anyway, so yup, I’m a fan. Check out his Bach on YouTube. Transcendent. Check out his new record with the Punch Brothers. Check out his record How to Grow A Woman From the Ground. You won’t be sorry on any account.
A project for Disney came along recently where they somehow came up with the idea of putting us together to see what happens. (thank you Matt Walker!) What a blast. The young mastermind welcomed me to his Brooklyn apartment where we worked on 3 songs and then recorded demos into my laptop with me sitting on the floor engineering and the mic perched on a bowl of apples. It sounded surprisingly good! The next night for a break we went to Thomas Keller’s Per Se in NY, the temple of foodie perfection. If I Twittered, which I don’t, I would have tweeted the following…’working all day with a genius…then at night being fed by one. A good day.’
Later that week we went into Avatar Studios in Manhattan with Chris and the rest of the Punch Brothers (save for Noam. Sorry dude, we’ll get you the next time around. Nothing personal about the banjo.) and Frank Filipeti of James Taylor fame engineering.
It was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had in the studio. Chris and the boys are a bit scary in that they really do seem to read each other’s minds. The pace at which they worked out the most intricate and complex tunes was mind-boggling. Then throw in a great drummer and the brilliant Gabe Kahane on piano. It made for an incredible day in the studio. If that weren’t enough that was followed a few days later by a string date at Abbey Road in London where we finished the tracks with a nice size string orchestra.
I can’t really put into words how fortunate I feel to get to work with such incredible musicians. Unless you live under a rock, you’ll hear it soon I promise. Not gonna tell you where though…