At 19 I was determined to become a record producer rather than a chemist (my plan since I was six). I’d played music since I was seven, The Beatles had infected me at 12, and the excitement of recorded music completely enveloped me by the time I was working at my college radio station. I was the only one to jump at the chance to record visiting jazz musicians, even though my interest was popular music. When Gunter Hampel, a German avant-garde multi-intrumentalist, released an album I had engineered, and put my name of the cover (!), I was was hooked.
It was an explosive era of independent record labels and my new friend, local record retailer Tom Pomposello, and I decided we’d start a label. We’d release great, underappreciated blues and jazz, and not incidentially, Tom’s solo music too. Our 1972 debut album on Oblivion Records came from tapes I’d recorded when Tom guested with country blues legend Mississippi Fred McDowell. We had an great time and released some amazing music. Five more releases and our lack of capital, lack of acumen, and insufficient entrepeneurial zeal closed the label in 1976.
Now I had the bug, and during my short career the demand for my production services grew enough that I produced almost thirty albums (one with a Grammy nomination), many of them for the tiny New York independent Muse Records.
For most of the jazz ‘producing’ was a misnomer, it was actually ‘recording supervision.’ I mean, what was an a rock’n’roll playing, 26 year old kid from the suburbs going to tell a master musician to do? Play faster? Better? The records weren’t always what I would’ve wanted, but they reflected the vision of the artist. That was my job.
All the magazine articles about producers celebrated activist visionaries like Phil Spector, but artist oriented folks Jerry Wexler, George Martin and Alfred Lion were the ones I admired most. They became the kind of models I carried forward with me to filmmaking.
Alas, I never found my way into the pop world I coveted. And therefore, no surprise, I couldn’t make a decent living the way I was going. I slowly, reluctantly, started to morph the dream.0 comments Tagged: Muse Records, Oblivion Records, producing records, records, producingrecords,.