In 1985 I owned and operated a world class studio called Tres Virgos Studio (www.tresvirgosstudio.com). As fate would have it, Tom Taylor was to be my last session in my studio (Whitney Houston would cut her first two albums there with the new owner Narada Michael Walden). Tom called the office to ask if I would “have a listen” to his 2” 24 track tape to consider mixing the project. I said of course! Bring your tape and let’s listen! I had been running a mill of artists, good and bad, for some time. It was necessary to business to listen to all prospects, and I did so with willing ears. Tom told me that he had recorded his project in several well known studios in the San Jose area, which gave me hope that the project was a good one.
On the designated day, Tom arrived with Drummer Curt Moore and Vibraphonist Joe Caploe. We quickly put the tape onto the 24 track and threaded it and aligned the machine for playback. My normal listening mode was to start with the rhythm tracks (drums and Bass) and work my way into the arrangement. As I did, I noticed a few minor technical issues first, but as I continued to bring up faders with Tom’s music, I was instantly won over by what I was finding. To begin with, intelligent composition. A flair for understanding relative frequencies of instruments, something that had fallen by the wayside of Rock & Roll. Using the voice of the instrument to speak eloquent phrases. Then, the dynamics of the music were very wide, making the mix a challenge to say the least. Utmost to the initial playback was the extraordinary musicianship I was listening to. Disciplined, concise and rehearsed. Atop all of this, as I lifted faders still, I uncovered familiar artists. David Grissman’s Mandolin which I knew so well from so many recordings. The Kronos Quartet, unmistakable in their sound and again I had worked with them. All this took place in a matter of minutes, and I was smitten with what I was hearing. I pulled the master fader down and told Tom that I would LOVE TO DO THIS PROJECT!!
The end product of these efforts was called “The Crossing”. To this day, 24 years later (Jan. ’09), I consider this to be one of my finest mixing dates. And the music is still fresh to this day. A true testament to Tom’s composition and arrangements.
Over the years, Tom and I have remained good friends. I still compose my own music and record it (down right hokey compared to Tom’s) and I send him my music and he patiently puts guitar parts on it and sends it back to me. He also sends me quantities of music varying from the Zappa like “There’s No Place Like Home” Featuring Stunted Thunder (Joe Caploe) to Sax Quartet Arrangements of the song he wrote of my Marin County Influence, “Rob’s Shuffle” aka Emperor Of Marin.
This week (1/26/09) Tom sent me his final completed copy of “Home”. It is his first major effort since “The Crossing”. I have not stopped playing this disc since I received it; making some two dozen times I have listened to it this week. Over the course of time, Tom has sent me individual mixes for consideration. Most of them pretty rough mixes frankly!! I must say that the Mastering Engineer David Glasser did a truly fabulous job of pulling all of these elements recorded in various living rooms, and studios, and post produced by Tom on less than professional equipment, together in a cohesive sounding bundle. I know that was a challenge. A Big Tip of the Sombrero to Mix Engineer James Tuttle also for putting the dynamics and tonality together they way they should be. I look forward to visiting Airshow Mastering in Boulder to meet these gentlemen.
“Home” is an excellent follow up to “The Crossing” albeit 24 years later. Tom’s composition, and crazy style still make the listener sit back and relax as his colorful notes explain the depth of this wonderful man’s brain. I ask myself again….
How DOES Tom Taylor create this?
It’s a wonder, a very special wonder.