One of the delights of working with Chaise Lounge is its wide range of musical styles. Classical, rock, and jazz songs are grouped together in a way that flows evenly. This time-warped ensemble bounces between decades allowing me to say hello to long lost friends. Remember the 60’s Swingle Singers? If so, look forward to “In Walked Mo.” Heard of Sil Austin? “My Blue Heaven” or “The Best Part of My Losing Streak” will drop you into the middle of a late-night rockin’ nightclub of the 50’s. There’s some 70’s psychedelic flavor lurking in the book under the guise of “You,” and ageless show tunes like “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” One of my favorite styles is the 50’s shuffle rhythm that Tommy encapsulates so beautifully. Think Rat Pack Vegas, a mobbed-up strip hotel, show lounges, smokey wee hours, Keely Smith frowning at Louis Prima, and Sammy Butera and the Witnesses doing their thing. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
There’s a rumor that Charlie has a time machine hidden in his basement. Do you, Charlie? If so, keep it in working order so the rest of us can continue to enjoy the trips hither and yon.
This week we had a rehearsal coupled with a band barbeque. After many beers and some rather haphazard grilling practices, we got to the business of playing music. One of the new charts we tried is a Henry Mancini instrumental from the Peter Gunn series called “The Brothers Go to Mothers.” Only Tommy could have found us this unknown gem. Gary brought in a few Benny Goodman charts. I finally learned the bass/piano lick that goes under the melody of “Seven Comes Eleven.” Gary is a true master when it comes to the Benny Goodman “small group” classics. And finally we grooved on Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I was struck by how good a songwriter MJ was. I credit The Sweater Set here. I heard Sara Curtin sing this at a party for the Strathmore Artist in Residence program and was knocked out by what a cool cover it makes. Once you take all the Quincy Jones production and indelible high-voiced squeals out of the MJ recording, you are left with a really nice, strong song. I think that with this arrangement, we made it ours. (OK—it will always be his.)
Last night at Cue Recording, Tommy Barrick, Pete Ostle, and I put down the rhythm tracks for two more Chaise Lounge songs.
One is an instrumental currently called “Celestial Navigation.” Seeing as that title got catcalls from engineer Ken Schubert, I seriously doubt the name is going to stick, but the piece is a keeper. This is an original—one of our patented vocalese songs where Marilyn sings in unison with trombone. It has something Pat Metheny-like about it (not that ANYONE would mistake my guitar playing for his!).
The other track we put down is an an instrumental arrangement of “Old Man River.” It is a drum feature. The tempo/click we recorded at was mm 152—that is, 152 beats per minute. But the entire chart is written to be played with a double-time swing feel. So it’s sort of like the wind-chill factor today: it’s 20 degrees out but *feels* like 8. The click track we used was 152 but felt like 304, which is pretty much as fast as I can possibly play. This speed is especially incongruous because “Old Man River” is traditionally played as a ballad. In the top left corner of the chart where it should give some indication of the tempo, e.g., “Largo,” we scribbled “Tempo de Tear-Ass.” Tommy killed it. He took a 32-bar solo in the middle of the song that is just beautiful. It is melodic, funny, interesting; all the things you might think a drum solo could not be. That ’60s Gretsch kit of his got a workout last night!
Ask any musician about January and you will get a grim smile, reflecting a woefully empty gig calendar. It has ever been thus. What to do about this? Start your next record! Well, that is what Chaise Lounge is doing, anyway. We began the new album in earnest last night with rhythm section recording sessions at Cue Recording in Falls Church, Virginia. Ken Schubert is engineering.
As we were putting together the list of new songs to record, I was amazed at how many we have. Also I was reminded of how many times people have asked for recordings of these songs and I have blithely tossed off, “Oh, that will be on the next CD.” “The Coolest Car” is one of those. Another is “I Just Want All Of My Stuff.” Maybe the most-requested unrecorded song is Gary’s solo piece, “Losing Streak.” All of them are coming soon. I’m not completely sure yet, but I think the new album will be called “Dot, Dot, Dot.” Yes, that song too is coming.
The first session was a delight. It was great to get back in the studio. And it felt good to dig into the fine details of some of those tunes. “Via Con Me” is a deceptively tricky song to play well. If the tempo is not exactly right it doesn’t work. We have also unearthed some of our back catalog for this. Who remembers “Celestial Navigation”? I think we played that twice…maybe at IOTA? Well, here it comes. And there is a song about a wrecked Airstream trailer (title still in flux)—who remembers this? It may be the saddest song in the world; too sad, we decided, to play much live.
Last year we released two records (Insomnia, A Very Chaise Lounge Christmas). This year, it will be only one. But I have a feeling it will be a doozy.