Original Music for Where’s My Village? Podcast
Late last Fall I was asked to write and produce music for a new podcast from Fortune Magazine entitled Where’s My Village? It’s a limited series about the childcare crisis in America, and the stories of people who are trying to fix it.
Composing for a podcast was an exciting new learning experience for me. I combined my compositional and technical skills to create a flexible, modular musical construction kit that included a unique theme and a series of flexible musical beds for use under dialog. I’m pleased with how the project turned out- the music serves the content and mood of the stories. As a working parent myself, I find the content resonant and are thought-provoking. Check out Where’s My Village? on Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Music and wherever fine podcasts are streamed.
Looking for music for your new podcast, video or theater production? Don’t hesitate to reach out to start a conversation about working together.
I’m always delighted to be in the company (in person, or via the virtual online studio) of vocalist Tyley Ross and guitarist and sonic wizard Ben Butler, and I’m delighted to share our newest release in a series of great Canadian song covers. Here’s our rendition of Bobcaygeon, originally recorded by The Tragically Hip. This song was new to me when I learned it for a gig with Tyley the year before the pandemic. The song has a simple power and a mysterious and frighteningly compelling lyric, but I hadn’t heard Tyley’s story behind why he chose this song (see his comment in the original post). Knowing now how he connects to this song in such a personal and painful way adds to its power.
Kudos to Tyley for his beautiful singing and vocal arranging, and also to Ben for crafting this arrangement and playing so many contrasting parts on guitar, keys, samples, etc. I played piano, mixed and mastered the track. Enjoy!
Here’s Tyley’s touching story about why he chose this song:
How Bobcaygeon got under my skin is a mystery. It’s not a song that hooked me on the first listen, but over the years it grew on me, and now from New York City where I live it fills me with memories of the North and has the power to pull me back home. Listening to it puts me at a lakeside campfire in the woods somewhere north of the 401, and then somehow, that middle section snaps me back to the 1990’s on Queen West.
Another layer of meaning was added for me when The Hip’s lead singer Gord Downie got cancer around the time we found out my brother Carrick was on the same painful trip. When Gord left the stage for good my big brother followed him out soon afterwards. This is one of the songs that connects me to him still.
I find solace in music, especially in songs that can take you back to better times. Songs that remind you of where you’re from, of the people who love you and the ones you’ve lost.
I’m joined here again (via our virtual and asynchronous recording studio) by Bennett Paster on piano and mixing duties, Ben Butler on guitar and most everything else. The voices are mine. The artwork is by Bob Donatucci, who incidentally, I pay with chocolate babka from his favorite NYC bakery.
Singer/songwriter Emily Cavanaugh and I co-produced the track “Seeing Me Home (A Song for Idaho).” Emily has a charitable project called A Song for You that crafts custom songs for people facing end-of-life situations- this song was part of that work. This heart-wrenching song was written for St Lukes Health System in Idaho, who distributed the song to their network of over 15,000 nurses, many of whom performed in the song’s video. Emily sang lead and backing vocals, and I mixed, arranged and played keyboards. The track also features Leo Sidran (bass, drums, guitar), Wells Hanley (piano) and Oscar Zambrano (mastering). Check out the touching video below or stream the song on your favorite platform.
Wash & Dry Studios has been managing to find ways to help our clients and friends to make some great music, in spite of the health and safety issues of these past months (and years!). Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to book some time to work on your project with us! Here’s a roundup of recent musical highlights at the studio.
Guitarist Alex Levine, pianist Russell Kranes, bassist Sam Weber and guest drummer Jay Sawyer spent 2 days in February tracking their new jazz project. Their music, featuring original songs and some creative arrangements of standards and pop songs, builds on the classic jazz piano/bass/guitar trio format. They added guest drummer Jay Sawyer on a few tracks for some rhythmic support and variety.
French pianist Jaques Letalon and his wife, singer Marie started recording a trio project with bass, produced by my neighbor, guitarist/composer/producer Francis Jacob. They’ve been performing their blend of French songs and standards for years and chose Wash & Dr as an intimate place to track.
At Wash & Dry Studio, our focus is on the experience of the musicians while they perform- the more natural, connected and comfortable everyone feels, the better the results. Although we have a flexible and powerful new Digital Audio Labs headphone monitoring system here, these artists mostly wanted to track with everyone in the same physical space and without headphones. (Once we added drums, headphones were needed for Alex, Sam, Russell and Jay). From an engineering perspective, I enjoyed the challenge of using creative instrument & microphone placement plus some baffling to manage the “bleed” between instruments. The resulting tracks have plenty of flexibility for mixing, but allowed the musicians to communicate and enjoy the process of recording.
Singer/songwriter Emily Cavanaugh and I co-produced the track “Seeing Me Home (A Song for Idaho)” with contributions from Leo Sidran, Wells Hanley and mastering by Oscar Zambrano. Emily has a charitable project called A Song for You that crafts custom songs for people facing end-of-life situations- this song was part of that work. This heart-wrenching song was written for St Lukes Health System in Idaho who distributed the song to their network of over 15,000 nurses, many of whom performed in the song’s video. Check out the touching video here.
Legendary DJ and producer Joe Clausell (Spiritual Life Music) and I continue our 25+ year collaboration creating funky, world-music influenced psychedelic house music tracks. Fran Cathcart (Skylight Studios) is our long-time mix engineer and collaborator.
Singer Tyley Ross (East Village Opera Company, NYU), guitarist Ben Butler and I continue work on our moody, atmospheric Canadian pop song project with our rendition of The Tragically Hip’s Bobcaygeon. (More info in a separate news item above.
I recorded piano for the singer/songwriter Linda Draper’s new release Patience & Lipstick, produced by bassist/producer Jeff Eyrich.
Singer/actor and music historian Melanie Gall continued work on songs for a new show she’s performing in the UK and beyond entitled “A Toast to Prohibition,” and we also started pre-production for a new album covers tentatively titled “Melanie’s Mixtape.”
Jazz and R&B Singer Dennis Day and I continue to expand our remote collaboration reworking recordings from his archives. I remastered and restored a live recording of his from a 1980’s Washington D.C. Club performance, and we started a new project titled “Back in the Day” with is a creative re-imagining and remixing of a recording he made int he 1980s. The first full track “No One Night Stand” features
Other clients included Barcelona-based songwriter CeCe Gianotti, for whom I recorded some keyboard tracks, jazz pianist Nick Olynciw, who recorded a trio project, British trombonist/vocalist Malcolm Earle Smith and vocalist Lucie Foley, who each worked on duo projects with 90 year old NYC legendary pianist Ephie Resnick, mixing for the children’s band Here Comes Trouble (Kelly Donahue & Jon Babu), recoding with singer/songwriter John Thomas and music education program “Music & the Brain” for whom I continue to proceed educational support materials.
Benny’s Wash & Dry is open for in-person recording sessions! We took advantage of some downtime during these last few pandemic months to upgrade our D/A converters, audio interface, CPU and headphone system. The studio is now centered on a zero-latency Avid Pro Tools Carbon interface and Lynx Aurora 16 (n) system. We upgraded our Mac Pro computer from 6 to a whopping 12 cores, doubling our processing power. Our new headphone mixers are a Digital Audio Labs Livemix system with 24 inputs, featuring custom mixes with levels, panning and more for each musician.
What does this mean to me, you may ask? Your experience while playing is the most important thing. Our new system assures the minimum possible latency in the headphones. That means there’s no perceptible delay between what you play and what you hear. This makes the recording experience ultra-transparent. The Carbon and Aurora (n) both have the latest state-of-the-art D/A converters assuring true, deep, transparent sound. Our new Livemix headphone mixers have more flexibility, more inputs and much better sound-quality than our old Furman system. And they’re easy to learn and use, with a dedicated “Me” knob that always controls your level in the headphones.
Interactions between musicians, great sight lines and a positive environment for creativity are critical to the creative process- we’ve still got that covered- but it’s also helpful when the gear your using helps achieve these goals by being high-quality and transparent. Book a session or come by for a tour and take advantage of our new improvements soon- we’d love to work with you to help you achieve your musical vision.
Hello friends! Spring is my favorite season here in NYC, and after the doldrums of winter, I’m rambling ahead into the lovely weather with a feeling of hope and promise. I’ve started booking some live performances again, I have a new single to share, and I’m preparing to safely reopen my recording studio for public sessions sometime in the coming months. Stay tuned for more info, or shoot me an email to discuss your project and goals. In the meantime, we’re still doing remote production, mixing, tracking & more!
Vocalist Tyley Ross, guitarist Ben Butler and I have been working on a new moody, atmospheric collection of Canadian songs that I’m really proud of. Here’s the second track from the forthcoming EP: Try (originally recorded by Blue Rodeo).
I’m delighted to announce the release of my latest album Indivisible, available now!
Deep groove is the number one priority on Indivisible, my latest recording of melodic instrumental jazz. Each of the album’s 10 original songs explores a different flavor of groove. From 5/4 swing to funky 70s samba, from New Orleans to Nordic open 8th, and onwards to funk, country waltz, fusion, surf and beyond, this collection takes you on a tour of rhythmic styles, drawing connections between contrasting beats through our constant commitment to groove. Recorded at my Brooklyn studio in mid 2018, each song is produced with a unique sonic identity to match its style. The magic is in how this hand-picked band of groove-master musicians- most of whom I’ve collaborated with for more than 20 years- draw this collection of diverse songs together into one cohesive, accessible album. This is Indivisible.
Bennett Paster- keyboards
Jeff Hanley- bass
Tony Mason- drums
Al Street- guitar
Kenny Brooks- tenor sax
Samuel Torres- congas & percussion
Todd Isler- percussion
All compositions by Bennett Paster
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Bennett Paster at Benny’s Wash & Dry, Brooklyn, NY
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk
(c) (p) 2019 Wurliboy Music (SESAC)
The tulips and crocuses are popping up in Brooklyn- another Fall and Winter seems to be succumbing to the relentlessly encroaching Spring. It’s a great time to look back on all the hard work that I’ve been doing in my studio, Benny’s Wash & Dry, both on my own and with a collection of talented musician artists.
I love to produce recording projects, both for instrumentalists and singers. From conceptualizing the project and picking repertoire, to finding the right band personnel, through the arranging, recording and mixing process, I enjoy the journey! Last Fall I had the pleasure of co-producing two sensational singers, Ellynne Rey and Melanie Gall. Both of their new recordings are available now.
Connecticut-based vocalist/songwriter Ellynne Rey’s The Birdsong Project features a broad-range of jazz approaches to a diverse collection of songs about birds. Ellynne and I worked together to craft the arrangements over a period of several months of rehearsal, then we recorded the album in two sessions at the Wash & Dry. The resulting album is well rounded, exciting and eminently listenable. From the classics “Skylark,” “Blackbird” and “Ornithology,” to the unexpected: Schubert’s “Die Krahe (The Crow)” and Joni Mitchell’s “Song to a Seagull,” to Rey’s original jazz waltz “The Snowy Owl,” the album features a talented group of experienced NYC-based jazz musicians, including Rey on vocals and me on piano and organ, plus Joel Frahm on sax, Alex Norris on trumpet, Freddie Bryant on guitar, Marcus Mclauraine on bass and drummers Anthony Pinciotti and Joe Strasser. The packaging also showcases her formidable talent as a wildlife photographer. This was our second recording project together and I’m delighted to have had both opportunities to grow together as artists. http://www.ellynnesings.com/
Canadian chanteuse Melanie Gall travels the world presenting her original shows in Fringe Festivals, theaters and beyond. I’ve arranged and recorded many of the soundtrack and accompaniments to these shows. When she approached me wanting to put together a recording of songs that have inspired and influenced her over the years, I jumped at the opportunity. The songs naturally divided themselves into two groups: half required a standard pop & jazz rhythm section; the other half seemed to merit an acoustic string band. I found the perfect group of folks who could fulfill both and we set out on a campaign of realizing her vision. Highway Rhapsody features Gall presenting 3 standards: “But Not for Me,” “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” and “My Ship”, and a group of songs which were new to me, including: “Gulf Coast Highway,” “Let the Cold Wind Blow,” “The Queen and the Soldier,” “I Will Play a Rhapsody” and more… It’s a crazy collection of folk songs, standards, pop songs, country classics and more, unified by her love of all them! The album features: Gall on vocals, me on keyboards, plus Ross Martin on guitars, Jacob Joliffe on mandolin, Bobby Hawk on fiddle, Jim Whitney on bass and Robert Weiss on drums. https://www.melaniegall.com/
In addition to composing, producing, performing and recording my own music, I enjoy supporting other artists as a sideman, both playing live and also contributing keyboard tracks “remotely” from my studio. Here are two featured sideman projects from the last few months:
In his own words, Jonathan Coulton’s Some Guys “covers of 70s soft rock songs that sound exactly like the originals.” Produced by the amazing Christian Cassan, we set out to recreate the smooth magic of the songs that fueled many a long car ride with my folks back in my childhood in New Mexico. It was a joy (and a ton of work) to learn and recreate, note-for-note classics including: Baker Street, How Deep is Your Love, On and On, Make it With You and many more. Listening to it is like time travel- I’m transported back to the back of my mom’s Buick with the maroon interior. Dig it. https://www.jonathancoulton.com/
Sean McMorris’s new album C’est La Vie is the third I’ve played on for the LA-based singer/songwriter. Also produced by Christian Cassan, it’s a spirited collection of original rock and pop featuring me on vintage keyboards. https://www.seanmcmorris.com/home
Other recent clients at the Wash & Dry include: Joe Clausell, Xavier Casellas and Emillio Solla, Ethan Eubanks, Storefront Music, Stefan Litzky, John Thomas, Janie Barnett, Ricky Tinelli, Annette Genovese, Fiona Smart, Akiko Matsumoto, Aaron Morrill, Dahlia Ross, Dennis Day, Jawney Conroy, Alex Khurgen, Yuma Sung, Paul Spencer, Ed Littman, Sidecar Astronauts, Michael Harren, Kim Cameron, Juwanna Jenkins, Carol Lipnik and more…
If you’ve got a musical vision you’d like help realizing, please reach out– I’d love to discuss your project with you to explore if we’d be well suited to working together. Come join the family at Benny’s Wash & Dry!
2017 and early 2018 have continued to find me busy recording and producing great music at my studio Benny’s Wash n’ Dry. Recent studio and recording project highlights have included:
- I added 2 exceptional condenser microphones to my mic locker made by ADK: Z-Mod 67 and Z-Mod 251. Special thanks to ADK founder Larry Villela for his help in finding the best choices for my studio.
- Recording and mixing my original music with my Trio Brasiliero featuring Gregory Ryan and Alex Katz with a special guest appearance by the New York Horns (listen to that track here).
- Work on a new original collaboration with Joe Clausell and Anthony Pinciotti that fuses my original instrumental funk and jazz with Joe and Anthony’s rhythmic and textural skills. Sam Thomas guested on Oud on one track, so far!
- Tracked new release by phenomenal young Haitian drummer Johnbern Thomas and his band; mixed by Ben Rubin
- Work on a new full-length project by Canadian singer Melanie Gall that runs the gamut stylistically from jazz to rock to Americana & string band. Working title: Songs I Like
- Recorded vocals for Kat Gang’s new CD which was recently mixed and master by Dave Darlington
- Mixed baritone Bremner Duthie’s latest release “Bremner Duthie Sings Kurt Weill vol 2”
- Recording several library music projects with producer/drummer Ethan Eubanks
- Recorded James Shipp and Nadje Nordhuis duo and James Shipp solo projects
- I’ve performed and co-written many tracks with legendary house DJ and producer Joe Clausell
- I recorded and played keyboards for Jonathan Coulton’s latest recording Solid State, and his super-secret next release, with produced by the amazing Christian Cassan.
- Singer/songwriter Michael Harren tracking string quartet, piano & voice for his suite about animal rights
- Producer Brinsley Evans, Lisa Molina and I have co-written a song that we hope to place in a major motion picture… standby for more details
- Co-writing with Hannah Gill and Brad Hammonds for Hannah’s upcoming album
- Produced and arranged several songs for jazz Singer Dennis Day which we recorded at Sear Sound, in Manhattan, recorded and mixed by Chris Allen.
- Keyboard tracks for artists including: Storm, Jim Satten, CeCe Gianotti, Rench, Sean Mc Morris, Horace Scott, Annette Genovese, Pete Miser,
- Engineered projects for: Victor Lin & Ben Flocks, Nikki Denner, Carol Lipnik & John Kelly, Drew Paralic, Glenn Spivack, Paul Spencer, Jacob Joilff (Pat Ferguson), Myriam Phiro, Sheryl Bailey
You may be familiar with singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton (aka JoCo) as the house musician on the NPR game show “Ask Me Another” (recorded live at Brooklyn’s Bell House), or perhaps you heard his “Thing a Week” podcast where he recorded, produced and posted song every week for a year. If so, then you know he’s a pithy songwriter with a knack for writing catchy, sardonic, modern pop songs about literally anything! I’ve been recording keyboard tracks for Jonathan and his producer Christian Cassan for many years now, including music for the TV show A Crime to Remember,” but they recently released JoCo’s strongest original recording yet, Solid State. I’m proud to have contributed some piano and keyboard tracks to this epic concept album that is available as an impressive LP package including full-color graphic novel and digital download encoded on a mock-science lab ID card with USB flash drive built in. The album peaked at #8 on the Billboard Indie Album charts, and I’ve enjoyed listening to it quite a bit. Here’s an article about JoCo from the Huffington Post with more info. Check out Solid State wherever you stream or purchase music, know what I mean?