The best selling and most recognized recording that I’ve made in the past 15 years is “Guitar Noir” (it’s become a reference standard for guitar fidelity and won the first “Demmy Award” from the CEA for “Best High-Resolution Audio). It features the amazing talents of guitarist, composer and arranger Laurence Juber. As a moderately talented guitar player myself, it was a real treat to get to know LJ (as he is know to his friends and fans).
He was enlisted to play on a couple of tunes on an album I made with Dorian Michael, a close friend from my days as a music student at California State University, Northridge. I told Dorian that I would be happy to make a record with him (he’s an amazing player too…check out “Acoustic Blues” on the AIX Records/iTrax site) but I needed some “celebrity” guests to contribute to the project. He introduced me to Laurence AND Albert Lee…that was a home run!
I was one of those “my life changed after seeing The Beatles” on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago. Hard to imagine it’s been that long, but that show was a very special event. I wasn’t alone in wanting to be a rock star after seeing them on TV. There were literally thousands of guys just like me that wanted to learn how to play guitar and join a band. The seeds of my ultimate direction were planted way back then.
Figure 1 – LJ during his Wings years.
And here I am 50 years later sitting in my studio with Laurence yesterday listening to a project that he recorded in the late 70s in London with the support of Sir Paul McCartney. LJ was a successful studio guitarist in London in the late 70s, when he was asked to audition for Wings…he got the job and joined Paul and Linda in the studio and on tour for the better part of 3 years. LJ is the one degree of separation from The Beatles for me (I did have a brief conversation with their producer George Martin at an AES in San Francisco years ago…but that was a brief encounter). Laurence and I have worked together on about 10 projects over that past 14 years. And I don’t think we’re done yet.
Figure 2 – Some of the images from LJ’s book.
LJ has finished working on a book about his years playing with Paul McCartney and Wings. It’s called “Guitar With Wings” and it promises to be a very interesting book about one of the true icons of pop music from an insiders POV. Laurence calls it a “photographic memoir”. You can check out the website by clicking here.
The “special edition” of the book will contain a limited edition CD, which includes “Maisie” recorded during sessions for Wings’ album “Back to the Egg”. The CD is called “Standard Time” and has been sitting in a vault for decades.
Figure 3 – The tape boxes for the “Standard Time” album, which will be available as high-resolution audio downloads on iTrax.
That’s why Laurence was in the studio yesterday for a couple of hours. We listened to the high-resolution digital transfers of the album. It was recorded on 24 track analog tape in 1979 with Dolby A noise reduction. And it sounds really great! The engineers at Abbey Road transferred the flat analog masters at both 192 and 96 kHz. We listened to the 96 kHz versions yesterday through my Benchmark DAC2. LJ and Wings fans will love this record…the arrangements and playing are really exceptional.
And guess what? Laurence is going to allow iTrax to offer the tracks in real HD-Audio. So stay tuned. The book comes out in a few months…just about the time that the new iTrax goes live. This will be a featured album in version 2.0 of iTrax. I was so pleased that LJ told me that he wouldn’t allow any mastering on the original mixes…you’ll get to hear what they heard in the mixing room all those years ago. And I can tell you it sounds first rate (I could only hope that somehow I could get to do a 5.1 surround mix…).