Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Studio Musicians

Our recent link to Psycho Toddler's comments on session players is generating a lot of comments.

Abe Solomon writes:
Regarding the article you posted on Psycho Toddler’s article on Blue Fringe: I don’t disagree with most points but I do have a bone to pick on one point. First of all are you there when the musicians record the albums? Do you live in Israel and see that Singolda is just sitting there totally not into the music etc.? I disagree that at all times they are not emotionally involved and that it’s all about what’s on the sheet music and so that’s why it all sounds the same. What is certainly true (and I’ve heard this straight from session players such as the greatest Jewish bass player-Ari Volonitz) is the following: The arrangers tend to stifle the creativity of the session players. They don’t want things running rampant etc. too jazzy or creative so they make sure they read it exactly as it’s written with very little embellishment if any.
Jordan Hirsch writes:
When I checked out the link to Psycho Toddler you recommended, I found an entirely accurate description of Studio Musicians in the Jewish Music scene. It is not correct, however to characterize all studio playing as sterile or soulless. That is a specialty of the JM scene. The arrangements, to begin with, are usually pretty poor, by any standard. The players are very good, but the producers will take the first perfect take they can get, rather than look for the "best" take. I have been in the studio enough to know the difference between flawless playing and good playing. I do not doubt that many though not all the studio players in the JM scene could do a lot more in terms of feeling were they given the opportunity.
While we are at it, I also take note of Psycho's description of Moshav Band, Blue Fringe, Kabbalah etc. as the source of the new ideas in Jewish Music. He meant the ideas that Jewish Musicians are not already doing. The music of the current Folk Rock Guitar Band Singer Songwriter fad in Jewish music is just an alternative source for derivative Jewish Music. That does not mean it isn't good. Some of it is very good. But let's not kid ourselves about originality.
The fact that I've linked to something doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with it. In this case, I feel like the rabbi in the classic Jewish joke who tells both sides of a dispute that they are both right. When challenged by his wife as to how that is possible, he tells her that she’s right too. I think that Abe, Jordan, and Psycho Toddler’s points all have some validity. No time to 'splain right now, perhaps more on this later.