Bringing together Bob Bain, John Pisano and Chuck Berghofer was a joy, but nothing new to these great players, who have individually and collectively recorded with many giants of music: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Joni Mitchell, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, and the list just goes on and on.
While I have had the pleasure of working with these dear friends many times, bringing them together for my CD was a special thrill for me.
Adding the recording genius of Al Schmitt at Capitol Studios and mastering by Doug Sax with “Sunny” Nam preserved the essence of the instruments as they sounded live that day, June 9, 2007, at Capitol.
Capturing the spirit of the day in photos, ‘Jazzographer’ Bob Barry snapped while we played and several of these shots are included in the CD booklet. The cover art and design were conceived by Meg Zivahl-Fox, who combined her eye for color and collage with our concept of the natural blonde guitar. She was there in the booth sketching, listening and supporting the session. She and Bob Bain were my ears in the booth along with Al Schmitt and assistant engineer Steve Genewick. Steve is a great engineer in his own right at Capitol, but often works alongside Al. Engineer Bill Smith, another super talent, stepped in for editing and postproduction.
There is a healthy mix of instrumental combinations: two quartets, two trios, one duet, and five solos.
The material is made up of all standard songs, two of which (Girl Talk & Crazy Rhythm) arranged by Bob Bain, and the rest by me. Of note, Bob played on the original Neal Hefti recording of, “Girl Talk,” from the 1965 motion picture, “Harlow.”
For the guitar enthusiasts:
On my arrangement of George & Ira Gershwin’s, “Fascinating Rhythm,” the three of us, Bob Bain, John Pisano and I played guitars built by Stephen Gilchrist, the talented Australian luthier. Steve is best known for his fine mandolins, but the guitars are quite special, too, the blonde one inspiring the title of this CD. John Pisano and I played classical guitars built by Greg Brandt on Ivan Lins’ beautiful, “Aparecida.” Bob played his legendary 1953 “Peter Gunn,” Telecaster, as well. I also used the Brandt on my solo version of, “Tristeza.” Another nice “Natural Blonde,” was utilized on, “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,” a very special Gibson L5N 1961 acoustic model. The other solos, “You Took Advantage Of Me,” “Li’l Darlin’,” and “Love Walked In,” were played on either one of two Gilchrist guitars, utilizing stereo close micing, stereo room mics, and a little bit of amplifier.
Chuck Berghofer is heard on four songs, including a solo on, “Girl Talk.”
All in all, I am thankful for all the input and support from my dear friends mentioned above, and especially my talented wife, Meg, to whom this CD is dedicated.