Retrophonic Gershwin in the Studio

It's OUT!!!  At times over the last three and a half years, I was sure I'd never see the day when I could say this, but the album is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and at joanellison.com. In case you missed it, here's last week's interview on WCLV 104.9 Ideastream with the ever-charming Bill O'Connell.  

And here are some (unvarnished!) pictures of Jason, Jodie, and I, along with Oberlin audio engineer Paul Eachus — Mark was the man behind the camera, as usual — tracking the album at Oberlin's Clonick Hall back in July 2012 and January 2013.

And here are a few audio clips from the album that I hadn't yet posted.  All tunes are by George & Ira Gershwin, and the styles vary widely.

"Treat Me Rough"

The Gershwins' "Treat Me Rough" is such a rollicking good time to sing that I'm always cheered by it no matter how I was feeling before I began.  It was, I believe, the very first fully duo-piano arrangement I ever attempted, using the 1943 Girl Crazy version, with June Allyson and Mickey Rooney, as a template.   The first try-out, in a room with two pianos at the Cleveland Music School Settlement, was the opposite of auspicious, but I could hear the potential.  And a couple of years later when Mark & I decided to expand our 1920s Gershwin show, Syncopated City, into the 1930s with Gershwin On the Air, we finally got to hear brought it to life with great glee by Jason Aquila & Jodie Ricci. I like to think of it as a pianistic fist fight. 

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"Retrophonic Gershwin" out July 21st!

Mark Flanders and I sat down yesterday to film a short video interview about "Retrophonic Gershwin," our album that was three years in the making and features Jason Aquila & Jodie Ricci on nine-foot Steinways (a Hamburg and a New York, for those who want to know more!), along with our vintage-style vocals. We hope you enjoy it!  

This is the seventh in a series of posts about the tunes on "Retrophonic Gershwin," our soon-to-be-released album.  Part 1 is "How I Got Rhythm," part 2 is ""Probably I'll Meet Him at a Soda Fountain,"" part 3 is "Which Pianist is Playing What?," part 4 is "Silver Linings," part 5 is "Darling, Let's Take a Bow", and part 6 is A Tune with "Distinct Potentialities." 

A Tune with "Distinct Potentialities"

From the beginning, George Gershwin felt that a song he and Ira had just penned for the film Shall We Dance had, in his words, "distinct potentialities of going places." The song was "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and he was right: the film (starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) wasn't even released until May 7, 1937, but between March and June of that year, everybody who was anybody was already recording it: Ozzie Nelson, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Carl Fenton, Billie Holiday, and Count Basie with their respective orchestras....and, of course, Fred Astaire with Johnny Green and his Orchestra.

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Silver Linings

It's been an exciting week: Robert Friedrich has been mixing the tracks on our second album, "Retrophonic Gershwin" all week and just finished the final mixes last night, or rather early this morning.  The first recording session at Oberlin with the two Steinway behemoths was July 7, 2012, and getting the arrangements ready took months before that, so it's really been a long haul, with, I must say, a staggering amount of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction hurdles. The second session was January 6, 2013 but Mark had a head cold, so we had to record all of his vocals later in our home studio, which took more than two years after that and involved such adventures as learning how to replace the vacuum tubes on our Avalon preamp (thank you Keifer Wiley, who reassured me that I could really do it myself), getting all the last bits recorded at home, editing everything on ProTools, and learning audio mixing from scratch from Lynda.com videos and GearSlutz.  Let me repeat: two years of my life and goodness knows how many hours it took for me to learn how much I still didn't know about mixing.  

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