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Music for Two Popular Super Bowl 2015 Ads Recorded at Avatar

The music for the following ads were recorded at Avatar.

Snickers “The Brady Bunch” ad with Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi:

Clash of Clans ad with Liam Neeson (aka AngryNeeson52):

2014: Year in Review

2014 was another active year of recording music for a variety of media content.

Memorable Sessions:

Bareilles Kotb Lauper in C Lauper Bareilles Singing in C

As part of NBC’s TODAY Show‘s “Shine a Light” campaign, host Hoda Kotb led a drive to raise money to help battle childhood cancer for the American Cancer Society.  Kotb, a cancer survivor herself, spotlighted the efforts being made by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  She embarked on Project Truly Brave to give kids battling cancer a gift of a perfect song that would make them feel better utilizing the healing power of music.  She enlisted two artists, Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper, to see if they’ll mash-up two of their hit songs, “Brave” and “True Colors.”  They came to Avatar in mid-June to record “Truly Brave” in Studio C.  The session was produced by Lauper and Bareilles and engineered by Bill Wittman assisted by Aki Nishimura & Nate Odden.  You can watch the resulting music video here.

Delving into the American and international folk songbook, Kronos Quartet teamed up for the first time with four celebrated roots artists within the Nonesuch family—Natalie Merchant, Rhiannon Giddens, Sam Amidon, and Olivia Chaney—to create entirely new arrangements of classic folk songs.  The effort was part of the 2014 Next Wave Festival and Nonesuch Records at BAM where the artists performed.  They all came in A to record their collaboration in Studio A.  The sessions were produced by Doug Petty and engineered by Todd Whitelock assisted by Tim Marchiafava.  You can read more about their performance here.


TB_LG_Cheek-To-CheekTony Bennett and Lady Gaga recorded their jazzy duet album, Cheek to Cheek, in Studios A and C.  It was mixed in Studio C by engineer Dae Bennett.  The album, produced by Danny Bennett, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Some of the artists that we recorded in 2014 included David Bowie, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Judy Collins, Glen Hansard, Christopher Cross, Jesse Harris, Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming.

Jazz artists recorded at Avatar include Cecil McLorin Salvant, Aaron Diehl, Maria Schneider Big Band, Stanley Jordan, Hiromi Uehara Trio, Brad Mehldau Trio, Vijay Iyer (for ECM), Igor Butman, Eddie Palmieri and many others.

We hosted sessions for international artists such as Skank (mix), Fito y Fitipaldis (mix), Juanes, and Estrella Morente (mix).


Mortdecai PosterThanks to the NY State film tax credit program, we continue to do a lot of work for film and television.  Film scores for future releases recorded at Avatar include Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, The Humbling (starring Al Pacino), Mr. Holmes (starring Ian McKellen as the aged, retired Sherlock Homes), Anomalisa, Cleopatra Backstage, Experimenter and Mortdecai (starring Johnny Depp).  You’ll be seeing some of these later this year.

Mortdecai is scheduled for theatrical release this week.  The unique music for this film, tracked in Studio A, was produced by Mark Ronson with music editor Nick Ratner and engineer Josh Blair assisted by Tim Marchiafava.

Avatar was involved with the groundbreaking and memorable soundtrack by Antonio Sanchez for the movie Birdman.  In April 2013, director Alejandro González Iñárritu came in with Antonio Sanchez to record drums in Studio G.  The director walked through the scenes, describing the action and giving Sanchez cues.  After shooting had completed, the director revisited the tracks and did not like how the drums actually sounded because it was “extremely crisp and clear” and did not match the aesthetics that he was aiming for, one that reflected the tension and dysfunction inside an old theater on Broadway.  They ended up rerecording the tracks somewhere in LA and by purposefully degrading the drum kit they used.  Oh well, at least we had some part in the creative process.  You can read more about the fascinating evolution of how the soundtrack came to be in this article.

Sanchez Inarritu in G
Antonio Sanchez and Alejandro G. Iñárritu in Studio G (Photo courtesy of Antonio Sanchez)

Other film projects that Avatar hosted in various capacities included Foxcatcher, Inside Out, Carol, Sweet Micky for President, Black and White Stripes: the Juventus Story and more.

Avatar also recorded music for Walt Disney’s upcoming Frozen Forever! short in Studios A and C.  The session was produced by Andrew Page, Bobby & Kristen Lopez and engineered by Joey Raia assisted by Tim Marchiafava & Nate Odden.  You can read more about the highly anticipated short here.


Boardwalk Empire Vol 3As we have for previous seasons, we continued working with producers Stewart Lerman and Randall Poster on the music for the fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire, most of the sessions taking place in Studios A and C.  The sessions were engineered by Stewart Lerman.  On one of the last sessions, Norah Jones sang on a track.  That song is included in the third compilation of selected music from the show, recently released as the album Boardwalk Empire Volume 3: Music From The HBO Original Series.

The instrumental music for NBC’s Peter Pan Live!, which aired on December 4, was recorded in Studio A.  The sessions were produced by David Chase and engineered by Frank Wolf assisted by Tyler Hartman and Thom Beemer.

A segment of Disney on Broadway was recorded and videotaped in Studio C with Ashley Brown, who originated the title of Mary Poppins on Broadway, singing “Feed The Birds.”  The video features Jim and Lori Abbott on piano and violin.  The session was produced by Megan Harding and engineered by Aki Nishimura.  The segment aired recently.

The music for season 4 of Louie with Louis CK was recorded and mixed at Avatar with producers John Skidmore, Matt Kilmer and engineer Adam Tilzer.


Six notable cast albums were recorded at Avatar in 2014 – The Bridges of Madison County, Rocky on Broadway, Violet, The Last Ship, Side Show and Tamar of the River.

The cast albums for The Last Ship (a musical with original score by Sting) and Side Show were tracked using our two-room scheme utilizing both Studios A and B to accommodate the large orchestra and large cast.  You can read more about this process in our blog article.

Bridges of Madison CountyRocky BroadwayViolet

The Last ShipSide ShowTamar of the River


Over the course of the year, we recorded music for a fair number of ads.  One of the more memorable one is presented below.  The session was produced by Eric Hachikian and engineered/mixed by Roy Hendrickson assisted by Thom Beemer.

You’ll be seeing a few commercials we worked on in a couple of weeks during the Super Bowl, including one for Snickers.

Interview with The Ting Tings

The Ting Tings talks about recording Super Critical at Avatar.  Read the article here.Super Critical

Paul McCartney’s First Song for a Video Game


The Paul McCartney song “Hope For The Future” recorded at Avatar was written for the “Destiny” video game.  The song was produced by Giles Martin and mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent.  The game is made by Bungie, the studio behind “Halo,” and published by Activision.

For more info:

Examiner article (Source)

Interview on Little Steven Van Zandt’s “Underground Garage” series


57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominations

logoThe nominees for the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced (full list).  The following projects were done at Avatar Studios.  Congratulations to all the nominees!

7. Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Cheek To Cheekgrammy-statue

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Label: Streamline/Columbia/RPM/Interscope

31. Best Improvised Jazz Solo

Sleeping Giant

Brad Mehldau, soloist
Track from: Mehliana: Taming The Dragon (Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana)
Label: Nonesuch

32. Best Jazz Vocal Album

Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro

(Billy Childs &) Various Artists
Label: Masterworks

I Wanna Be Evil

René Marie
Label: Motema Music

33. Best Jazz Instrumental Album


Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band
Label: Mid City/Blue Note Records

34. Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project

Rufus Reid
Label: Motema Music

OverTime: Music Of Bob Brookmeyer

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
Label: Planet Arts Recordings

35. Best Latin Jazz Album

The Pedrito Martinez Group

The Pedrito Martinez Group
Label: Motema Music

The Offense Of The Drumgrammy-statue

Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Label: Motema

45. Best American Roots Performance

And When I Die

Billy Childs Featuring Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas

Billy Childs Featuring Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas
Track from: Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro
Label: Masterworks

53. Best World Music Album


Angelique Kidjo
Label: 429 Records

57. Best Musical Theater Album

Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Lena Hall & Neil Patrick Harris, principal soloists; Justin Craig, Tim O’Heir & Stephen Trask, producers (Stephen Trask, composer & lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast)
Label: Atlantic

59. Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media


Christophe Beck, composer
Label: Walt Disney Records

61. Best Instrumental Composition


Rufus Reid, composer (Rufus Reid)
Track from: Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project
Label: Motema Music; Publisher: Myriad Ltd.

63. Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals

New York Tendaberrygrammy-statue

Billy Childs, arranger (Billy Childs Featuring Renée Fleming & Yo-Yo Ma)
Track from: Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro
Label: Masterworks

83. Best Music Film

20 Feet From Stardomgrammy-statue

Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer & Judith Hill
Morgan Neville, video director; Gil Friesen & Caitrin Rogers, video producers
Label: Anchor Bay

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