Recording with Lionel Loueke

Posted by massimobio Category: Music

In early December 2014 I spent two amazing days in the studio recording Lionel Loueke‘s new trio album for Blue Note with Ferenc Nemeth on drums and produced by Don Was.

Ferenc, Lionel and I have known each other and played together for 15 years, so what better way to celebrate than to go in the studio and record some new music!

Lionel wrote 11 beautiful brand new compositions and arranged a Bee Gees song for this session. The music is deeply rooted in the afro-jazz style that makes Lionel so unique, but is more rock influenced than previous recordings.

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Don heard us play at the 55 Bar in NYC in early 2014 when we started working on this new music, and he immediately decided that he wanted to capture the live energy of the band. Recording in separate booths and hearing each other through headphones is such a different playing experience, so Don had us all setup together in a circle facing each other in the main room of Sear Sound Studio C and we played without headphones.  For the two days, we spent the afternoon recording half of the music and later in the evening, we recorded ‘live’ takes of the same songs in front of an invited audience.

It’s the first time I truly appreciate how much of a difference a great producer with such intuition and sensitivity can make on a recording.  In addition to setting the general concept for the recording, Don sat in the circle with us the entire time sharing his energy with us and giving very few key suggestions when needed.

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Another thing that made this recoding special is that for the first time, in addition to playing upright bass, I recorded 9 of the 12 songs on electric bass specifically, a Kala U-Bass.  As Lionel’s music has evolved during the last few years, I felt that some of the songs would benefit from a different sound than upright bass. As we started working on the new music, I went looking for a new instrument and soon came across the U-Bass.  I was immediately smitten by its punchy and warm sound – so different from a regular electric bass, yet with the extra clarity and presence compared to an upright bass.

The album is slated to drop later this year, so stay tuned.