🎷 AotW: Jazz Paul Desmond, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" SP-3032

Jazz releases not on the CTi or Horizon labels.

JOv2

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@JOv2 , I don't see how this (at least all of it) could have been recorded in 1969, as "El Condor Pasa", "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright", "Cecilia" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" weren't released by Simon and Garfunkel themselves until their BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER album in the first week of February, 1970.
Man, did I make a journeyman mistake. You are absolutely correct.

Given that three of those four cuts were hit singles, I'm gonna hazard a guess that the album wasn't recorded (or finished, anyway) until August, 1970, when "El Condor Pasa" was released as the third single from the Simon and Garfunkel album---which would be outside the window of Creed's involvement.
Using hit singles as a benchmark, you are once again spot-on with your scenario.

As for why A&M instead of the new CTI, it was probably contractual. Paul didn't surface on the new CTI for four more years (with SKYLARK and PURE DESMOND), so maybe his deal was with A&M or maybe he only had a two-record deal with Creed and went with A&M for the third (either of those scenarios could explain Quincy Jones, as well).
...and the hat trick.

You've sold me, Mike. (I edited the wikipedia entry in response.)

The engineer/studio issue remains the only aspect up for grabs...at this point, I'll further conjecture that while RVG was most likely penciled in, once Creed was fully out of the picture, Jerry probably had the new producer relocate the session to a studio that was more aligned with A&M's economic interests at the time (e.g., "Big Al's Discount 16-Track Pro Studio" -- where the first 5 test pressings are "on the house"!)

And apart from Antonio Carlos Jobim, new CTI stayed away from A&M/CTi artists for a long time---it wasn't until May of 1971 that George Benson's BEYOND THE BLUE HORIZON was released. Was that part of the legal wrangling that tied up I GOT A WOMAN AND SOME BLUES for 15 years? I'm sure Benson and his management didn't want to go two years between albums
Excellent observation.
 

Rudy

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The engineer/studio issue remains the only aspect up for grabs...
I think you've pretty much got it. Van Gelder stuck with CTI, A&M went off on their own. Perhaps the location of the musicians and Don Sebesky dictated they find a studio to record Desmond at. Since Sebesky had a roundabout connection with Dave Sanders already (he recorded Sebesky's 1968 album The Distant Galaxy for Verve Records, plus they probably had a few mutual connections through all the artists both of them worked with in the late 60s and early 70s), and Sebesky was stepping in as a first-time producer for A&M and Desmond, it was probably a logical choice to record it at A&R Studios (NYC) where Sanders operated out of back in the day.
 

Michael Hagerty

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I don't know exactly when they moved there, but both Herbie Hancock and Airto Moreira live in Los Angeles. I want to say Herbie moved west around the time he signed with Warners (1969) and Airto settled in L.A. when he came to the USA. Given that Desmond was from California, is there anything that rules out them having simply recorded it at A&M (which would explain the lack of a studio credit)?
 
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Rudy

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I was thinking about that also--Desmond and Brubeck were both located on the west coast, as were others who recorded for CTI and A&M.

From what I've seen, Dave Sanders was employed at A&R Studios in NYC. But now that I think of it, Rudy Van Gelder's studio was in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, so the two studios were not that far apart, and it appears as though many (most?) CTI albums were recorded at Van Gelder.

I would guess that if they flew in musicians from the west coast to record at Van Gelder's, they would probably do the same for an A&R session for Paul Desmond if they were paid for time and travel. That makes me wonder where Don Sebesky was based--east or west coast, in other words. In general, too, if a producer is used to working with a certain group of instrumentalists (brass sections, strings, etc.), it'd be cheaper to fly in half a dozen musicians than to try to contract an entire ensemble of brass and/or strings on another coast, especially a group they may not be familiar with.

I did read in the interview how particular Creed was with his strings--he wanted perfect players at all depths (such as, first-, second- and third-row violinists), and trusted his concertmaster to choose them since he knew what Creed was looking for and also knew all the string section players who could fill those roles. Not really related, other than perhaps rooting at least the string ensemble at a given location.
 

Michael Hagerty

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I was thinking about that also--Desmond and Brubeck were both located on the west coast, as were others who recorded for CTI and A&M.

From what I've seen, Dave Sanders was employed at A&R Studios in NYC. But now that I think of it, Rudy Van Gelder's studio was in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, so the two studios were not that far apart, and it appears as though many (most?) CTI albums were recorded at Van Gelder.

I would guess that if they flew in musicians from the west coast to record at Van Gelder's, they would probably do the same for an A&R session for Paul Desmond if they were paid for time and travel. That makes me wonder where Don Sebesky was based--east or west coast, in other words. In general, too, if a producer is used to working with a certain group of instrumentalists (brass sections, strings, etc.), it'd be cheaper to fly in half a dozen musicians than to try to contract an entire ensemble of brass and/or strings on another coast, especially a group they may not be familiar with.

I did read in the interview how particular Creed was with his strings--he wanted perfect players at all depths (such as, first-, second- and third-row violinists), and trusted his concertmaster to choose them since he knew what Creed was looking for and also knew all the string section players who could fill those roles. Not really related, other than perhaps rooting at least the string ensemble at a given location.
I think it would be as easy to put Sebesky on a plane to L.A. as it would be to put the musicians on one to NYC. And if a string section was based in New York, that could be an overdub.
 

Rudy

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I think it would be as easy to put Sebesky on a plane to L.A. as it would be to put the musicians on one to NYC. And if a string section was based in New York, that could be an overdub.
Yeah, it's hard to say. And like you mention, with just a cursory engineering credit, we don't know if maybe it was a string section overdub at A&R with the rest recorded elsewhere, or the whole band was there, or what the deal was. I doubt a competing studio is going to fly an engineer across the country for one recording, too.

So the A&R Studios is still a guess, but given all the other records with Sanders' name on them recording at A&R, it only makes sense that the album might have been recorded there.

Odd thing is, the sound quality is reminiscent of Van Gelder's...that is why it had me wondering.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Yeah, it's hard to say. And like you mention, with just a cursory engineering credit, we don't know if maybe it was a string section overdub at A&R with the rest recorded elsewhere, or the whole band was there, or what the deal was. I doubt a competing studio is going to fly an engineer across the country for one recording, too.

So the A&R Studios is still a guess, but given all the other records with Sanders' name on them recording at A&R, it only makes sense that the album might have been recorded there.

Odd thing is, the sound quality is reminiscent of Van Gelder's...that is why it had me wondering.
I'm thinking if a producer specified an engineer, he'd probably get that engineer, even if it meant a plane trip. If the album had a certain budget and it was cheaper to fly the engineer than it was to fly the musicians, that'd be prudent.

Absent musicians' union session records, we'll never know.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Found a 2010 interview with Sebesky on JazzWax. No light shed on where it was recorded, but it's an interesting take:

"I arranged and produced that one. Creed had already left A&M to form CTI as a stand-alone label. Paul Desmond had owed A&M one last album and this was it. The concept for this album came up through a go-between. Paul Desmond and Simon & Garfunkel had the same agent—Mort Lewis. Paul Desmond didn’t really get fully into the material. The resulting album wasn’t bad but Paul was a bit awkward on there. He wasn’t of a mind to go down the crossover road, and you can hear it."
 

Michael Hagerty

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And here are links to the complete JazzWax interview with Sebesky:

Part one: Interview: Don Sebesky (Part 1)

Part two: Interview: Don Sebesky (Part 2)

Interestingly, he says beginning with BUMPIN', he would record Wes Montgomery and a rhythm section, and then record and overdub the strings. No idea if he worked that way with Desmond or not.

Also, the interviewer refers to Desmond's BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER as 1969, but we've proven otherwise.
 
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JOv2

Well-Known Member
I did read in the interview how particular Creed was with his strings--he wanted perfect players at all depths (such as, first-, second- and third-row violinists), and trusted his concertmaster to choose them since he knew what Creed was looking for and also knew all the string section players who could fill those roles.
Totally! Listen to those strings on A Day in the Life and Wave -- the scoring is both elegant and to the point. The arrangement and sonics of the strings are what underscore many of those A&M / CTi LPs. (Once I was mature enough to finally understand the role of the strings, it all made sense and I could finally fully appreciate the A&M / CTi LPs.) Claus Ogerman and Don Sebesky are clearly gifted arrangers with strings (and light reeds / horns).
 

Michael Hagerty

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Claus Ogerman and Don Sebesky are clearly gifted arrangers with strings (and light reeds / horns).
It took me years to realize that the sound that is Ogerman's signature is a blend of strings and reeds that feels like it's thisclose to going off-key, and never does.
 

Rudy

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Interestingly, he says beginning with BUMPIN', he would record Wes Montgomery and a rhythm section, and then record and overdub the strings. No idea if he worked that way with Desmond or not.
On one of the 3000-series CD reissues (I think it was Desmond's Hot Afternoon), they included an alternate track without the strings, and I think the liner notes mentioned that the empty spaces left in the "combo" arrangement were for the added horns/strings at a later time. That makes sense as a recording session for strings and horns would be set up differently from a smaller combo, and would be a more efficient way to work.
 

Michael Hagerty

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On one of the 3000-series CD reissues (I think it was Desmond's Hot Afternoon), they included an alternate track without the strings, and I think the liner notes mentioned that the empty spaces left in the "combo" arrangement were for the added horns/strings at a later time. That makes sense as a recording session for strings and horns would be set up differently from a smaller combo, and would be a more efficient way to work.
The Sebesky interview was fascinating. Basically, he was called in to do Wes' BUMPIN' and he was going to do it live, with strings. The string section intimidated Wes. He told Sebesky "These cats all went to Julliard. I can't compete with them." So Sebesky sent the strings home, cut Wes with a combo, and scheduled another session with the strings, who all wore headphones and played to Wes' track.
 

Rudy

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There was a similar story about Wes in Creed's interview--one of them about the Bumpin' session.

JW: Was Bumpin’ in March 1965 with arranger Don Sebesky different?
CT:
I remember we had a little trouble there. One of the tracks with strings had a tricky turning point, and Wes couldn’t read music. It got Wes down. He was sitting there looking depressed. Don went over and asked him what was wrong. Wes said, "All these cats are sitting around with music on their stands. I don’t know what to do."​
JW: How did you resolve the problem?
CT:
I stopped the date. From that point on, Don made a guide track recording using a Fender Rhodes electric piano for Wes. Don would record it onto a tape. Then he’d give the tape to Wes, who would take it and rehearse on the road. Using the recording, Wes would get the songs down pat. Then he’d nail all the turnarounds and everything else. This way he’d know everything that was going to happen in the score. He was back in control of his environment. Even after that, we’d overdub the strings to minimize issues. The guide tapes got us through the problem with relatively complex arrangements.​

Then, this one about "Goin' Out of My Head".

JW: Wes Montgomery's Goin’ Out of My Head in November 1965 is really the first album where you begin to have Wes record pop hits of the day with a hip jazz flavor. Why did you choose that pop tune?
CT:
I listened to all of the pop and R&B stuff that came out at the time on the radio. I heard Little Anthony & the Imperials rehearsing for a show at New York's Paramount Theater, and the group's song, Goin’ Out of My Head, really stuck with me. I thought it could be great for Wes. The song was written by two guys named Teddy Randazzo and Bobby Weinstein.​
JW: How did you broach the idea with Montgomery?
CT:
Wes was playing at the Half Note with Miles Davis’s rhythm section: Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. That’s where we had recorded Smokin’ at the Half Note in June. I took a copy of the Little Anthony 45-rpm down to play for him. Wes listened to it and said, "Creed, you must be going out of your head. I can’t do that kind of stuff."​
JW: What did you say?
CT:
I told Wes, "Listen to the chord changes and the melody, and you’ll find there’s something there that’s going to be very useful for you in a recording studio." I also told Wes that Oliver Nelson was arranging and that he already had the chart in his head. "Forget the vocal and performance," I told Wes. "Listen to the chord changes." That was the only time I had to talk to Wes in a somewhat uncomfortable situation.​
JW: What was Montgomery's reaction?
CT:
He wasn't completely won over. I told Oliver that I needed his help. I said, "Wes is turned off about the source of the song. I don’t think he’s hearing the arrangement and chord changes that you have in mind."​
JW: What did Nelson do?
CT:
Oliver made a demo on a Fender Rhodes electric piano. Wes didn’t read music. When Wes heard what Oliver had come up with on the Fender, he loved it. He rehearsed the song based on Oliver's tape recording. Then he and Oliver came up with a hit. After that, everything was smooth. Wes trusted me. He was a lovely person to work with.​
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
On one of the 3000-series CD reissues (I think it was Desmond's Hot Afternoon), they included an alternate track without the strings, and I think the liner notes mentioned that the empty spaces left in the "combo" arrangement were for the added horns/strings at a later time. That makes sense as a recording session for strings and horns would be set up differently from a smaller combo, and would be a more efficient way to work.
This was the protocol in the majority of the sessions. The primary benefit here is that the orchestral charts, written after-the-fact, can incorporate musical and rhythmic elements that were spontaneously generated from the combo -- which will yield more musical interplay. We've all-too-often heard recordings where the added sweetening was rather pedestrian in scope (i.e., written from someone who had little-to-no understanding of the ultimate musical goal at hand); or like back in the '50s when the orchestral musicians, when playing alongside the jazz combo, sounded uncomfortably stiff against the loose combo.

A great example of after-the-fact sweetening is Sebesky's orchestral chart for Desmond's Struttin' With Some BBQ (Summertime). The chart adds rhythmic punctuation here and there during Paul's first solo section and lays out during Herbie's piano solo. When Paul returns, Sebesky scores for obvious orchestral interplay against Paul 3:22--3:42: all of the scoring comes from Paul's ideas. Essentially, he scores the ensemble with musical elements that Paul is about to play, which makes the listener believe that Paul is reacting to the scored ensemble. Pretty nifty eh! The end result, of course, is to help reduce the "meandering" nature of jazz soloing that Harry points can limit interest in jazz. Creed and Sebesky sure knew how to make it happen. When considering the after-the-fact scoring, Summertime is an across-the-board success.


 

Rudy

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Now that you mention it, some of the Hot Afternoon tracks are similarly punctuated. And, I hear instances where Sebesky's arrangement will continue a line that Desmond played in the solo.

"Samba with Some Barbecue" is one of the best tracks he's used to lead off an album!
 
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