Throwing it up against the wall. / by Marcell Marias

I won’t lie.  I was nervous about our session back in October.

Not that we don’t have the right chemistry.  We do.  It’s just that when you get that many artistic people in a room together, things can go off the rails.  Egos can get bruised.  Ideas can fly so fast and furious that nothing really ends up sticking.

That was the concern I had going into the first combined session for the next Shai Azul compilation.  I’ve been working with everyone in ones and twos for some months; this time, I wanted to get everyone together in the same room.

On Mirror Darkly, I introduced the vocal parts to the singers in the morning and we cut the tunes in the afternoon.  With this go-around, I wanted more of their input.  Just because I came up with the melody doesn’t mean that it’s the best idea for the tune.  I’ve always known this.  But knowing it and giving the singers time to wrap their vocal chords around it are two different things.  It was also a first to have pretty much the whole band there… Tanya, Oily, Anthony, Vic, and Chris.  All we were missing was Kelly.  Something about small children needing attention or some such thing. 

I shouldn’t have been concerned.  I couldn’t have asked for a better idea session. 

We kicked off at around 10 am with just myself, Tanya, and Chris.  We set the rhythm for the day with the first song; spending some time listening to the tune, me singing the melody (big thanks to Tara W, my vocal coach, for giving me more training and confidence than I have ever had), and then turning the singer loose for about an hour.  As more people showed up, more conversations and ideas were thrown around.  But rather than just being a chaotic jumble, it seemed like every idea was a touchstone for forward motion. 

In fact, at one point, there were six of us working on one song. Vic, with tremendous artistic humility, said “Guys, I don’t know where to take this.”  You don’t often hear someone say that about their own tune.  So we all dived in.   And the song turned out better than we could have imagined for it. 

Lather, rise, repeat.  9 songs later we had gotten through the whole disc (or as much of it as we were going to get done that day). 

We now have a disc full of vocal ideas.  Sorry, you don’t get to hear any of it yet.  We used the time as a musical sketchpad rather than trying to get melodies set in stone.  So if I played it for you it would sound pretty scattered and random.  We got what we wanted - tons of ideas and direction.  It’s taking longer than I hoped, yah.  But this is all about making the best music we can.  If it takes longer, it takes longer. 

The work is in the vocalists’ court for a season.  And I am glad for the break. 

This disc is gonna kill.