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Looking back at 2013, the first thing we can say about the recording sessions we were fortunate enough to host is that there was a lot of variety in terms of what we recorded and what the recordings were used for, reinforcing the fact that we live in a very multimedia world.
In addition to what you may expect in conventional sessions, we also hosted talk radio shows that were regularly broadcast from Avatar, rehearsals for large scale concert tours, photo shoot for a major magazine, video shoot for a fitness DVD, interviews for various media outlets and even taping a segment for Dance Moms. Now that’s variety.
Fruits of Labor:
Typically, there is a lag time from when a project is recorded to when the completed work is finally released to the public, whether the end product is an album, show or film. So that we do not spoil carefully planned marketing campaigns or steal any thunder of PR departments, sometimes we cannot mention publicly certain sessions that have taken place at Avatar.
It is gratifying to see that the some of the projects that we worked on in 2012 came to fruition in 2013, which included Paul McCartney’s NEW, Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox (which has been nominated for four Grammy Awards), music for Inside Llewyn Davis (more on this later) and the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom (with footage & recordings done in Studio C) to name a few.
So next time you think you haven’t heard any news coming out of Avatar, don’t think that we’ve been sitting idle. It may be that we just can’t talk about it.
One of the more memorable sessions we experienced were the rehearsals for the live event “Another Day, Another Time” conducted in Studio A. The concert, held at New York City’s Town Hall at the end of September, featured the music from the film Inside Llewyn Davis by Ethan and Joel Coen (producer, writer and director). Performers included the Avett Brothers, Joan Baez, Dave Rawlings Machine, Rhiannon Giddens, Lake Street Dive, Colin Meloy, The Milk Carton Kids, Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers, Patti Smith, Willie Watson, Gillian Welch as well as the star of the film Oscar Isaac. The music for the film itself was originally recorded in Studio A in 2012 with producer T Bone Burnett, as documented in the Inside Llewyn Davis featurette, “Making the Music.” (You can see footage from the studio starting at around 4:39).
These rehearsal sessions were produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, T Bone Burnett and engineered by Mike Piersante and Jason Wormer assisted by Aki Nishimura & Nate Odden. The assistants were very lucky to have front row seats to witness some very special performances.
The four-hour concert was captured in the documentary Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Chris Wilcha. The film weaved together three days of rehearsal footage, one-on-one interviews, backstage moments and the actual concert performances. The documentary can be seen on Showtime.
As you know, we specialize in acoustic performances, large ensemble and orchestral music and lots and lots of jazz. Some of the performers that we recorded in 2013 include Jonatha Brooke, The Gaddabouts, Brian Blade Fellowship, Warren Wolf, Danilo Perez, Randy Weston, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Kenny Garrett, Audra McDonald, Eddie Palmieri, John Abercrombie, Billy Hart, Ayo, Jota Quest, Violent Femmes, Sean Jones, Jane Ira Bloom, Joshua Bell, Christian McBride, Vijay Iyer, Paul Simon, Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, Diane Schuur, Rodney Whitaker, Billy Porter and many others.
We documented a few details about a couple of projects as case studies in our blog – Sixteen Sunsets by Jane Ira Bloom recorded and mixed in Surround and the large ensemble recording of Brooklyn Babylon. Both projects have been nominated for Grammy Awards.
A particularly memorable session was recording the joint performance of the Wayne Shorter Quartet (with Wayne Shorter on sax, Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums) with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Studio A. They were recording works composed and arranged by Wayne Shorter from their Carnegie Hall performance together, celebrating the orchestra’s 40th year, from the day before. The session was produced by Rob Griffin and engineered by Rob Griffin and Todd Whitelock assisted by Bob Mallory & Tim Marchiafava.
Thanks to the NY State film tax credit program, we have been doing a lot of work for film and television.
The film score to Jimmy P. starring Benicio Del Toro and directed by Arnaud Desplechin was recorded in Studio A with producer / composer Howard Shore, engineer Sam Okell assisted by Tim Marchiafava and Tyler Hartman.
A couple of film scores were mixed as well – Gods Behaving Badly (producer: Chris Young, engineer Gary Chester) in Studio G and And So It Goes (producers: Rob Reiner, Marc Shaiman, Scott Riesett, engineer Frank Wolf) in Studio B.
Avatar also played host to multiple sessions for the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty directed by Ben Stiller. Included were a tracking (in Studio A) and mix (in Studio B) session for a trailer featuring the music of Jose Gonzalez and St. Vincent. The sessions were produced by Teddy Shapiro, George Drakoulias and engineered by Chris Fogel assisted by Tim Marchiafava & Tyler Hartman.
Other film projects that Avatar hosted in various capacities included Monsters University, American Hustle, Frozen, August: Osage County, Rio 2 and more.
As we have for previous seasons, we continued working with producers Stewart Lerman and Randall Poster on the music for Boardwalk Empire Season 4, most of the sessions taking place in Studios A and C. The sessions were engineered by Stewart Lerman. Selected music from the show was compiled and recently released as the album Boardwalk Empire Volume 2: Music From The HBO Original Series.
The music for NBC’s Sound of Music Live!, which aired on December 5, was recorded in Studio A with some overdubbing done in Studio B. The sessions were produced by David Chase and engineered by Frank Wolf assisted by Tyler Hartman and Nate Odden. Footage from the recording session was shown on “The Making of The Sound of Music Live!” televised on November 20. The Sound of Music” was presented as a live three-hour broadcast on December 5 on NBC. Five-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood starred in the coveted role of Maria Von Trapp. Acclaimed British actor Stephen Moyer, best known to U.S. audiences for his role as Bill Compton in HBO’s “True Blood, portrayed decorated World War I hero Capt. Georg Von Trapp. From Universal Television, “The Sound of Music” was executive produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. Beth McCarthy-Miller and Rob Ashford served as directors. The live holiday production was based on the original 1959 Broadway production of “The Sound of Music.”
Other noteworthy TV projects included music for HBO’s Six by Sondheim, a documentary about the art of legendary composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim (currently airing), music & footage for HBO’s Josh Groban: Sing Your Song: A YoungArts Masterclass (airing Jan 21) and a voice over session with Tom Hanks for Disney Pixar Halloween special Toy Story of Terror.
Music for a new video game Forza Motorsport 5, as performed by the singers of the New York Film Chorale, was recorded in Studio B. The session was produced by Paul Lipson and engineered by Roy Hendrickson assisted by Tyler Hartman. Forza Motorsport 5 was released on the same day as the Xbox One on November 22.
Olivier Deriviere recorded his original score for Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Freedom Cry with La Troupe Makandal’s distinctive drumming and vocals at in Studio A with multiple Grammy® award-winning engineer Silas Brown assisted by Aki Nishimura. The session was produced by Marion and Olivier Deriviere.
Over the course of the year, we recorded music for a fair number of jingles. The following is a sampling of some of the end results.
Giving Love Through Arts Education: Tony Bennett & Gap:
The orchestral music for the American Museum of Natural History’s Planetarium Space Show: Dark Universe was recorded in Studio A with producer Robert Miller, engineer Peter Hylenski assisted by Tim Marchiafava and Nate Odden. The narration with Neil deGrasse Tyson was recorded at Avatar as well in Studio G.
Cirque du Soleil recorded their Zarkana cast album in Studio A with producer Nick Littlemore, engineer Roy Hendrickson assisted by Mike Bauer.