BEATLES, BIRDERS, BEARS and SQUIRRELS
It has been a tornado of activity lately and short of giving myself a Moto Guzzi for Christmas, I had to pretty much say bah humbug to the holidays. But I’ve been very fortunate to be involved with some really exciting projects these past few weeks. If Marty McFly traveled back in time to tell a teenage Jeremy what I had to look forward to as 2012 wrapped up, my head would’ve exploded. Of course I wouldn’t have known who the Dirty Projectors were at that point because they didn’t yet exist, but now that they do, I was really happy to join them on The Late Show with David Letterman back in November. It’s always fun to get back into the Ed Sullivan theatre for some frigid music making (yes the temp is as cold as they say) and the band was in great shape having just played the Hollywood Bowl a few nights before.
A few days later as I was composing music for a documentary entitled Narco Cultura, we received word that the film would have it’s world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Much of the score is made up of electronically manipulated sounds and samples, but there is a piano trio that consistently reappears throughout the film and a particular violin theme that represents the most prominent part of the score. Lucky for me I happen to be friends with Tim Fain (if you’ve not seen his Portals Project you must). Even luckier for me, he had a gap in his schedule after a recital with Philip Glass in Italy and was able to fly in for the sessions. The guy absolutely ruled it in the studio and had people in the control room in tears.
As if I didn’t have enough to be excited about, the night before we recorded the score I got to play on Saturday Night Live with Paul McCartney. It was the Christmas special and they pulled out all the stops. Martin Short hosted, Nirvana showed up, and some of us got caught on camera in the opening monologue as Martin sang and danced his way through the hallways past Tom Hanks, Tina Fey, Samuel L Jackson, and me and a llama (don’t ask). Unfortunately I had to leave early to get back to the studio and prepare for the Narco sessions. Skipping an SNL after party is never a good idea (especially when Dave Grohl is on the scene) but duty called. Bah humbug!
Next up was the score to another film, A Birder’s Guide to Everything starring Ben Kingsley. Though I wrote a few songs for the movie, the majority of the score was written for a small chamber ensemble and a drummer. Some of my favorite musicians, yMusic and drummer Dave Burnett, were on hand and we were able to record in a gorgeous studio in Brooklyn.
The Bunker Studio is owned and operated by my friends John Davis and Aaron Nevezie and they’ve really built a gem of a place. In a day when most big recording studios are closing, these guys are doing the exact opposite and have returned to the glory days of recording music the right way. Analog boards, tape machines, terrific sounding rooms, vintage outboard gear, etc. The Bunker is my new favorite place to record, hands down.
After spending all day in the studio with yMusic on Thursday, the following evening I got to hear the group in concert as they made their debut at Carnegie Hall. I’ve performed and attended many concerts there over the years, but this night was different for two reasons. One, the pride I felt seeing my friends walk out on stage and perform beautifully was a joy. And secondly, they played The Bear and the Squirrel, a piece that I wrote for them. To hear my music in one of the great halls of the world, and performed by good friends no less, was easily one of the highlights of my career. This time I actually did make the after party, but couldn’t stay long because….you guessed it, we had to get back in the studio the next morning to mix the score to Birders.
Now it’s Sunday and I’m on a plane somewhere over the Rocky Mountains, catching up on some much needed sleep. I’m on my way to play some concerts with the Seattle Chamber Music Society and then catching the final weekend of Sundance. There are a few things on my mind though: 1) Will I remember how to play the cello? 2) Will I have time to make it to Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings? 3) This has been one hell of a month.