Mark Heard It First

Sound Engineers in Sunny Moods and Sun Dappled Jazz

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Mark in the Park

Mark in the Park on Sunday, August 21st. Jamieson Trotter on keyboard, Dave Robaire on bass, Dan Schnelle on drums and Larry Koonse on guitar.

Jeff Bates from Vertigo Entertainment was the sound engineer that afternoon. I mention him toward the top of this little blurb because what a difference a sound man makes. Let’s be honest, they have a reputation for being surly. So when one shows up who is cheerful, enthusiastic, on time, and really digs your music and makes you sound great – that is a very good thing.

Click here for an article from Wunderground News – “Sound Engineering Declared Grumpiest Profession In The World.” This is a satirical article, but in good satire there are overtones of truth. Jeff and I were actually talking about this very thing. “Yeah,” he said, “nobody puts a gun to somebody’s head and forces them to be a sound man. I really love it.” It showed. What a pleasure to be able to get squarely into the mic and hear yourself with clarity, not having to force or strain. There was just a splash of reverb, barely discernible, and the eq was perfect. It was a blessing indeed. Hit me up for a referral – great rates, great attitude, great job. James Schumacher of Vertigo has never once let me down with his own work, or anybody he sends.

We had a great turnout in King’s Road Park, a cozy little green space tucked away off the east side of Kings Road. This charming little park is a neighborhood favorite, and yet if you walk by a little too quickly you might miss it. The band had my back on everything, and I thought they really connected with the material, especially Jamieson’s arrangements of “Moon Ray” and “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.” We performed Josh Nelson’s richly detailed, evocative arrangement of Marian McPartland’s “Twilight World” with its shifting meters of 5/4, 6/4 and 4/4. This chart has a precise bass line and some artful intervals. Dave Robaire played it perfectly. Larry Koonse is always a plus on the band stand, and gave me solid support throughout, contributing his usual stellar soloing and demonstrating once again why he is one of the tops in the biz. I was very happy with the two Page Cavanaugh arrangements we did – the hard swinging “Get Out of Town” and Page’s practically giddy samba take on “The Coffee Song,” which was expertly set up by Dan Schnelle on drums. We had fun with two saloon songs – Alan Jones’ “Easy Street,” a bluesy medium tempo swinger that I stole outright from Betty Bryant’s repertoire, and “Drinking Again,” which I think hit a little too close to home with a couple of my WeHo pals. (Insert winky emoticon here.) Harry Nilsson’s plaintive “Life Line” from the 1971 ABC Television broadcast of the cartoon “The Point” was added for contrast, and we closed with another hard swinging up tempo arrangement on “I Want To Be Happy.”

So there is my self review of a very special gig for me. I have no idea how it sounded in the house – I mean, park – but it felt great. You are only as good as the company you keep, and when that includes a quartet like the one I was blessed with on Sunday and a sound man with a sunny disposition – game on!

Many thanks to Mike Che and Amanda Carlson from the City of West Hollywood and Andrew Campbell from WeHo Arts for giving me the opportunity to close out this year’s Summer Sounds Series in my adopted home town.