The Hemet Session
Secrets From Jazz Ghetto
Recorded January 2009, with George Kahn — piano, Andy Suzuki — sax, Karl Vincent — bass, M. B. Gordy — drums, Recorded at Park Hill Music Studio by John Goetz and Eric Galletta, Hemet CA and mixed by Carl Sealove in Los Angeles, CA.
January 11, 2009 was a beautiful day in Hemet, California, especially for the George Kahn Quartet. After winning the Chuck Niles Bebop Award at the Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival in the summer of 2008, it was finally time to “cash in” the grand prize, a free day in the studio at Park Hill Music Studio in Hemet. The studio, located at the remote end of a remote town, is comprised of 3200 Sq ft of recording studio built the “old fashioned way” (a big airplane hangar-type room with baffles, but no isolation booths). It features a world class Neve V3 60 input console and a producers desk which holds an array of class A outboard gear (including a bunch of tube amps to warm up the sound). The room includes a 1902 Steinway 6′ 10″ Model B Grand Piano and a slew of top-end microphones.
George and his quartet (saxophone player Andy Suzuki, bassist Karl Vincent and drummer M. B. Gordy) showed up at the uncharacteristic jazz hour of 10:00 AM to start recording, with the plan to kick out 6 new songs by the end of the day — a full albums worth of material to be completed by the time the dinner bell rang. The added challenge was to be that, due to the lack of isolation in the studio, there could be no overdubs — this was going to be recorded the “old fashioned way” — with no fixes.
The plan was to start the day off playing “Over The Rainbow” (track 2 on Volume 1) to get things rolling. George, who recorded this song as a solo on his second album back in 2000, was looking forward to a new shot at one of his favorite tunes, and was especially looking forward to Andy Suzuki doing a Stan Getz-esque tenor solo on the song. Andy, of course, did not disappoint. This was a special day for Andy as well, as it was his last recording session in the US before he and his wife moved to Berlin.
Karl Vincent turned in a wonderful solo, and then George took a turn. By the time the track was over, the quartet was in the groove, and ready to attack the 4 new originals that George had written for this occasion.
Three of these new songs make it onto the new album: “Waltz For Diana” (track 3 on Volume 1), dedicated to George’s wife, gives Andy a chance to do a little Paul Desmond on the alto. This new album closes with the other two new compositions, “Evan’s Eleven” (track 12 on Volume 2), a rollicking funk/blues in 11/4, and “Wayne’s World” (track 13 on Volume 2), dedicated to Wayne Shorter. This last track gives the band a chance to really stretch out. Make special note of the rhythm section on the way out of this tune — Karl Vincent, George and MB roar like a well-oiled machine. They just did not want to stop — so they didn’t.
At the end of the day, the lights were turned down, and George and Andy did a duet version of “My Funny Valentine” (track 4 on Volume 1). This bittersweet love song poured out of their hearts onto the tape, and was done in one take. Then it was time to thank Eric Galleta and all the Park Hill Studio people, pack up the tapes and hightail it back to the big city. Mission accomplished.