“JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale” is a unique blend of narration, Jazz quintet and Symphony orchestra that features
- Narrative storytelling where the narrator does all the character voices and special effects
- Great pop/jazz songs that appeal to all ages performed by Grammy winning artists and Jazz Legends
- And a full Symphony score supporting the songs and the narration
Blending all these elements together for the recording of “A Swinging Jungle Tale” took a lot of planning, perseverance and most importantly, the good fortune to be associated with some of the finest and most talented people in the business.
As in most recordings, we started with “ basics,” where we record the Jazz quintet first and then add the other parts from there. Drums, Bass, Piano, Saxophone and a reference vocal were recorded for the seven songs that comprise “A Swinging Jungle Tale” at Coupe Studios in Boulder, Colorado in November of 2010. Christian Teele and Chris Engelman played the drums and bass. Both are members of the “eTown” band that has worked with the likes of James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Ben Harper and Moby to name just a few. Bob Rebholz played the Saxes and flutes and Bob’s credits range from Tom Jones to Natalie Cole to Linda Ronstadt and more. Steve played the piano and Mark laid down the reference vocals. James Tuttle masterfully engineered the recording and the session went fabulously. We left feeling that we had something very “special.”
From there, we picked out our favorite “takes” of each song and began to add reference Orchestra parts using real samples of the instruments (no synthesizers!) at Mark’s home studio so we could hear the whole production and then gradually began to replace them with a host of “live” players. Dawn and Darren Kramer recorded the trumpet and trombone parts at Mark’s and then we did a “String Date” with engineer Paul Vastola at Rocky Mountain Recorders in Denver where we added live strings to the songs and also recorded the Orchestra Cues that would play under the narration and support Claire’s magical journey.
Steve had worked with Jazz Legend Hubert Laws on some previous recordings and told him about the project. Hubert loved the idea so we considered what songs he could bring his incredible talents to. We spoke to Chris Ball, who was the writer of a song in the production called “Hector Hummingbird” and asked him if we could change the name to Hubert. Chris didn’t say “yes”, he said “Heck Yes!” and we were off to LA for an incredible session with engineer Geoff Gillette at Entourage Studios where Hubert magically became the “Hummingbird” with his flute and also played the solo on “Her Name Is Little Growl.”
Now it was time for the real vocals. We started with Grammy nominee and co-writer Chris Daniels singing “Welcome to the “Shake” at Airshow Mastering followed by 3 time Grammy nominee Todd Buffa flying in to sing “Doin’ the Jazz Joint Jump.” Mark sang, “Her Name Is Little Growl” and “He’s the Loneliest Monkey” and our friend and executive producer John Street added some nice touches on the clarinet on some of the key parts of the score.
We were left with figuring out who would sing “Do the Monkey Swing” and the song Hubert had just recorded, “Hubert Hummingbird.” Steve had thrown out Jazz icon Al Jarreau’s name before as a possibility but we didn’t know if he was within our reach or if he’d even be interested. Never afraid to ask, Steve called his manager; they loved the project and before you knew it, we were talking about recording dates and the specifics for the songs Al would sing. Life lesson – never be afraid to ask! We recorded Al at Entourage in April and Hubert even dropped by and they worked together live on the “scat” section of “Hubert Hummingbird”. It was pure magic!
We also recorded the very important voiceover narration for the project with the multi-talented (and incredibly funny!) James Murray. James was already familiar with the script so we worked out the timing of where the story fit into the musical cues and we were ready. It was amazing to watch him bring the characters to life when only moments earlier they had been just words on a page.
The Last Detail
We still had one more vocal to record, the first song you hear on the CD, “This Elephant’s Gerald.” We were looking for a voice that characterized the smart yet sassy style that embodied our “Gerald” character and the First Lady of Song, Ella herself when our friend Joe Vella (JazzOnline.com) sent us an mp3 from Christian McBride’s new CD. The track was a bass and vocal only version of the classic “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers and featured Grammy winner Dee Dee Bridgewater. Oh my gosh! We just fell out, all smiles, and immediately asked Joe if he could make the connection. He did, we did and the rest was absolutely fantastic! We recorded Dee Dee at “The Palms” studio in her hometown of Las Vegas two days after Christmas. What a wonderful late Christmas present! Still smiling!
The finishing touches to the mixes where added by James Tuttle and the finals where delivered to Dominick Maita at Airshow for mastering. Dom has worked on projects with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Bryan Ferry and currently masters all the music for Glee. With his expert hand, Dom added the last bit of sparkle . . . and Claire’s journey, “A Swinging Jungle Tale,” was now ready to be heard.