The high-res music listening party at Battery Studios last week continued as our group of about ten migrated to Mark Wilder’s mastering room. You can read the first installment by clicking here. Mastering rooms are not large…not nearly as large as my main studio room. But they don’t have to be. The engineer sits in front of his mastering console and speakers and is surrounded by transports and other outboard processors. Take a look at the picture below.
Figure 1 – Mark Wilder in his mastering room at Battery Studios.
The program for the evening informed us that Mark was going to playback his recent work on projects of Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck. Just about every audiophile who enjoys jazz is a fan of these two legends. And I’m very proud to say that I had close encounter of the best kind with Dave Brubeck. How many times in your life will you pick the phone and have a conversation with a celebrity of his stature?
But in 1985 while I was sitting at my desk in the music department at CSU Northridge, I picked up the phone and said, “Hello”. An unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello, this is Dave Brubeck.” As you can imagine, I just about fell out of my chair. It turned out that a student in my diatonic harmony class (I taught music theory part time and ran the tech department of the music program) worked at a classy hotel as a parking valet. Mr. Brubeck noticed him doing his music homework and struck up conversation. One thing led to another, which led the student to recommend me to Dave as an expert in MIDI and notation software. Dave invited my wife and I to his concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall and we spent a fair amount of time backstage chatting about his project. That was one of the most memorable things that has ever happened to me. I never spoke to him again but can tell you that he was among the most gracious gentleman I’ve ever met. He introduced my wife and I to his wife and sons in the green room…wow!
I should write a post on some of the other musical luminaries I’ve met and or worked with…but that will have to wait for another day. It includes John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein, John Adams, John Chowning, Elliot Carter, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Iannis Xenakis, Michael Tilson Thomas, György Ligeti, and that’s not including the rock musicians I’ve worked with like Neil Young and Kiss. I’ve been very fortunate to have an interesting and very fun life and career doing something that I love.
The sound in Mark’s room was exceptional. Here’s another photo from the evening:
Figure 1 – It’s me sitting in Mark Wilder’s chair at Battery Studio during the high-resolution listening event last week.
Yes, it’s me – Dr. AIX – taking my turn sitting in the sweet spot during the playing of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” three-track master. Thanks to Harris Fogel for taking the shot and sharing it with me.
The process of identifying, transferring, restoring, and remastering important albums takes great equipment, great skill, and great ears. It was obvious that the people at Battery Studios are among the best in the business. In spite of the fact that I spent 16 years as a mastering engineer and got to work on projects for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company, The Rolling Stones, Ambrosia and the San Francisco Symphony, it’s a still a thrill to visit with other professionals and see what they do.
And then we moved over to Matt Cavaluzzo’s room. Stay tuned.