A few months back, I stumbled upon a documentary called The Art of Recording a Big Band [reviewed in Tape Op #118]. The film allows the audience an intimate experience of watching the late, great producer/engineer Al Schmitt record a big band with his right-hand engineer of 20 years, Steve Genewick, at Capitol Studios [#114]. In my opinion, this documentary should be required viewing for anybody who hopes to work as an engineer in the world’s best studios, with the world’s best musicians. Steve and I met up online at the end of 2021 to talk about working at Capitol, sessions with Al, and immersive mixing in Dolby Atmos.

How did you get into recording?

I was into music as a kid, but I didn’t play. I was always buying and listening to records, and was curious about it. When I was in high school, I had friends who were in bands. One of my friend’s bands went to a studio, and I got to hang out. It was just a little demo studio; I don’t even know what it was called. But I remember spending one night there, thinking, “This is really cool! I’ve got to learn about this.” It was a little bit harder back then. We didn’t have the internet; we only had books and magazines.

Were you watching them record to tape?

It was all tape. This is late ‘80s-ish. After I got out of high school, I didn’t know how to get into the studio business. I didn’t know anything. I wasn’t the guy who had the 4-track at home. I found a recording school, Trebas Recording Institute. It was a two-year program. At the time, recording schools were very new. I went there, and it was really great. I could learn what an EQ does, what a compressor does, and ask, “What are these microphones?” The school was okay. And the teachers were really good, because they had working people. Bobby Owsinski was one of my teachers.

Oh, wow!

Yeah. I was doing well, and I liked it. A guy who sat next to me in one of my classes had gotten a job as a night runner at Cherokee Studios on Fairfax Avenue, which is no longer there. There’s a new Cherokee now [on Melrose Avenue]. That guy got fired for doing something stupid, as we all do. I asked him, “So, they need somebody, right?” He replied, “Yeah, dude. You should go get the job.” I walked out of Bobby Owsinski’s class, walked over to the studio, and said, “I know you need somebody.” They hired me that day. I was doing the night runner and going to school. There were five rooms there, so there were always sessions going on.

Were these high-profile sessions that you’d get to eke your way into?

Yeah, totally. We would do Rod Stewart, a lot of old school hip-hop – Dr. Dre and those guys, and Trevor Horn [Tape Op #89] worked there a lot. Because they had all those rooms, there would be something really big going on in Studio 1, and a little overdub in Studio 4. It was pretty cool. I didn’t go back to the school, because I was learning more at the studio. I eventually made my way up to assistant engineer, and then I was in the control rooms. I worked there for about three years. If you talked to a bunch of people, you’d find out that everybody would eventually get fired from Cherokee. I got fired for something stupid. I had started to do some live sound in clubs, doing front-of-house for bands and really liking it. I had odd jobs, working for friends and installing sound systems. I did that for about a year and a half. Then I ran into a friend of mine, Bill Smith, who I worked with at Cherokee. Bill’s still around, and one of my best friends. I ran into him one night at a bar. Bill had left Cherokee and was working at Capitol Studios. He sat me down and said, “Somebody quit at Capitol today. This is not like the other places. This is a very different studio. This is all big-time. We’re doing orchestras, big bands, movies, and records.” He explained what a completely different world Capitol was at the time, and still is. He convinced me, so I went home that night and got my résumé together. I went in the next day, walked in the front door of the building, and asked for Michael Frondelli, the studio director at the time. Michael came out, I gave him my resume, and he didn’t even look at it. He just went, “How do you know I need somebody?” I said, “I ran into Bill last night.” He went down and talked to Bill, came back up, and asked, “When can you start?” I said, “When do you need me to start?” He said, “I need you at 4 o’clock today.” I started as what we call a “set up person” at Capitol. It’s not exactly a runner, and not exactly an assistant. It’s still a position that people hold today. They set up the chairs, the stands, pull the microphones, set all the mics up, plug the mics in, and run the headphones and the DI boxes. It usually gets done overnight, since a lot of the sessions that we do are really big. If they’re setting up a string day, it could take five or six hours. Back then, every session needed more than one assistant. Most of it was film and TV work. We were always running 2-tracks live to DAT machine. There were videos to pop in and out of the video machines, and multiple machines all locked up. I became the third engineer on a lot of sessions. I started when the four main engineers at the time were Christina Paakkari, Bill Smith, Leslie Ann Jones [Tape Op #74], and Pete Doell.

I would imagine that was a good way to get used to the patchbay, as well as learning the mics and all the gear there.

It wasn’t so much that. It was more that these were sessions like I’d never seen before. I’d never seen scoring sessions and big, huge string dates before. Or union musician dates. It got to the point where they started handing me scores. We were running tape, but we had to write numbers on the scores to know where to go. They’d say, “Okay, we’ve got to punch in at bar 42.” I’d had a basic theory class at one point in high school, so I knew what the lines were, but I didn’t really read music. It got to the point where I went to my boss and said, “I’m going to go take a music theory class at a community college for a semester.” He said, “If you do it, we’ll pay for it.” Twice a week, for a whole semester, I went to music theory classes at LACC [Los Angeles City College]. I can’t read the music or play it, but I can now follow a score!

There’s a scene in the ...Big Band documentary where they got the take, but they wanted to do a full band punch in between specific bars. It was so quick!

It’s an everyday thing. Nowadays, it can be a little bit easier. For instance, on that particular session Chris Walden was the composer, and Chris is very organized. His charts always line up. Either he’s giving me a Pro Tools session with a pre-mapped tempo and tempo map – there might be some pre-records in it – or at least his score is very linear. Very rarely will he put in repeats and score like that. I can use the bar counter in Pro Tools. I can generate the clicks in Pro Tools. Sometimes it’s very easy, but, on a lot of the records we do, we’re not using a click. It’s just wild time. Or there are repeats in the score. I’m constantly following the score and dropping markers in for bar numbers. Somebody’s spending an awful lot of money to have all those people out there. When they need to pick up four bars in the middle, we can’t play it from the top!

I’m sure you go through assistants and people who want to help. Is that ever a challenge, where you say, “Just let me do it”?

Yeah, all the time. If I’m in a situation where my assistant can’t do it, then I have to take over. I work at Capitol, but I also work all over the place. The people who would be my assistants at Capitol know what to expect, because they’ve seen it before by the time they’re assisting anybody on a session, myself included. I’m usually the guinea pig. They usually start with me, because I’m there. Everybody knows the session’s not going to fail if my assistant suddenly folds over on their first session. I like doing that; I like bringing them along. But there will be a certain time where I’ll say, “All right, give me the machine. I’ll take care of this.”

What was the transition from tape to Pro Tools like for you?

Well, it was essentially the exact same thing. First of all, it became easier in Pro Tools, because I had something that I could look at.

Right. You can see what you’re recording!

If I was on tape and I had to punch two bars of a guitar solo, I had to go back and say, “Okay, I get it, but let me listen. Let me roll back, because I’ve got to find where my ‘in’ and ‘out’ are.” Now we have [Avid Pro Tools’] Quick Punch! Everybody knows that if we hear a bad punch we keep going, because it can be fixed afterwards. From that point of view, going from tape to Pro Tools made life a lot easier.

When you’re doing big band or string sessions, do you typically recording linearly in Pro Tools or do you use playlists?

Nine times out of ten, on a film score type session somebody has mocked it up, so there’s some pre-records. Even if that’s what we’re replacing, they’re there. So, in a situation where I have a tempo map and/or pre-records, in that case I’ll do playlists. Playlist 1 is take 1. Playlist 2 is take 2. That way I know where everything is. It makes comping very easy, because everything’s in the playlist and everything’s on the grid. Those are the simplest sessions. If I’m doing a record or a project where I don’t have a preexisting tempo map, then I’m probably going to go linear down the line. Even if I’m generating a click. But I’m going to be following a score or somebody, so first take we’ll flip to playlist 1, so all the audio’s labeled “.01,” and we’ll do the take. As we’re doing the take, we’re getting marker numbers every eight bars.

So, it’s in the audio file’s name.

Yeah, so when I do a comp or edit, I know where tracks come from. If they ask, “Oh, can we take the beginning of take 2, the middle of take 3, and the ending from take 1?” I can then put this whole thing together and know exactly what take certain parts came from. When I’m in the studio recording, Pro Tools is just a tape machine. I’m not mixing in it, so 99.9 percent of the time I’m tracking on a big console. I’m controlling life from the console. I don’t like to generate headphones out of Pro Tools, because, as I switch sessions, if I’ve moved something, I have to remember to move it on that new session. I try to keep everything out of Pro Tools as much as possible. When I’m recording, it’s strictly a tape machine. After that, it becomes my mixer. Once I have it in Pro Tools, then I’m going to keep as much in Pro Tools as I can. Even if I record an album, and we come back three days later to do vocals, at that point I’ll make a mix of the music in stereo in Pro Tools and then have whatever I’m overdubbing on separate tracks. I can split them for the headphones, but I start the process of getting everything into the box. By the time I get to the mix, I’m 100 percent in-the-box. Any processing, compression, and all that I do it on, the way in as much as I can. I commit to a lot of that. I commit to levels. I ride gain going to tape. We do it with the horns and the vocals. Any time I can do it, I’m doing that. It’s how I learned from the best in the business.

Speaking of the best in the business, I assume you met Al Schmitt through working at Capitol?

Yeah.

How did that relationship form to where you became his right-hand guy?

When I started at Capitol, Bill [Smith] was Al’s assistant. Because I was good friends with Bill, Al and I hit it off. I met him a week after I started there. The first record that he did while I was there was a Willie Nelson album with a big, huge orchestra. It was great. Two rooms with a rhythm section, strings, big band, and the whole nine yards. We got along great. When it came time when they needed help, I was the guy they’d drag in. They were doing big records, top of the tier. Tommy LiPuma, Phil Ramone [Tape Op #50], David Foster, and all these great producers doing these great records. At some point, Bill left Capitol. He wasn’t on staff anymore, but he was still working with Al, so he was always there. But they still had to have a Capitol engineer on the session. Then it got to be that I was the Capitol guy there, but Bill was there for Al. Then, at one point, Bill came to me and said, “I have the opportunity to work on a couple albums, so I’m going to stop working with Al.” When Al showed up that morning, they went upstairs and had a little talk. Al came back down the stairs and went, “Well, guess it’s going to be you from now on!” The next day, Bill wasn’t there.

Wow!

Because I had already been working with them for a couple years, I already knew the routine. I knew where to set the gear up. I picked up where Bill left off. It was pretty seamless, actually. It also coincided very closely – within probably a few months or a year – with the release of Pro Tools HD. Suddenly we could go to 96 kHz [sampling rate], and the converters were better. That was when Al decided that he liked Pro Tools. Time to ditch the tape machines! The job of being Al’s assistant changed. Not only was I Al’s assistant, but I was also the Pro Tools operator, and everything that went on with that. I was still learning Pro Tools. We had to learn how it was going to fit into our workflow. I became a little more integral to the sessions as a person, rather than as just the assistant engineer.

Yeah, it’s like command central on big sessions like that.

Exactly. That job became a little different than what it had been in the past, which was great for me.

During that transition, were you ever tracking to both tape and Pro Tools at the same time?

Yeah, sometimes we would do that. We had a box at Capitol built where we could feed the output of the console to two machines. We could feed the returns back to one machine. We had a button where we could seamlessly switch between Pro Tools and tape on a 24-track. We would generate code and record locked. Then we could re-lock it on playback and seamlessly switch back and forth to whatever we wanted. By doing that we could prove to some of our clients, “This sounds as good, if not better. We can do this. It’s okay.”

Right.

We did that a bit the first couple of times. There was one time we were going to do a record with Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall. They had done five or six albums with her already. This was the first one where Al wanted to use Pro Tools. Everybody else was like, “Oh, I don’t know. We’ve always been on tape. Does Pro Tools sound good?” Al said, “We’ll record to both, and then we can decide later.” We had the whole thing set up, and they went out to do the first song. They’d do everything live, so everybody’s out on the floor. They did three takes or so, and Tommy always sat in the studio with the band. As they’re walking in, we could hear him say, “Man, take three was great, but that solo in take one was amazing!” Somebody went to the restroom or took a phone call. In the five minutes that I had before they listened, I cut the solo from take one into take three on Pro Tools. When we listened, we let them switch back and forth and they couldn’t hear a difference. When we got to the solo, Tommy asked, “Is that the first solo?” I said, “Yeah, when you went to the restroom, I did the edit.” That was the end of the tape machine!

Nice work!

Once we could prove to them that it sounded good – that they couldn’t tell the difference between the tape and Pro Tools – then the convenience of the Pro Tools made the tape go away. But we still do records on tape once in a while.

Do people ever come to you wanting an “old” sound?

Yeah, people come in all the time and say, “I want it to sound like the [Frank] Sinatra record that I fell in love with.” There are two things: One, we can do that, because we still have all the microphones and the tape machines. We still have the same chair, podium, and mic stands, so we can do that, absolutely. But when they say something like that, I usually have to have a conversation and ask, “Do you really want it to sound like that? Or do you want that vibe? Go back and listen to those records; the drums were in the back of the room. Do you want to hear the bass drum or not?” On a lot of those records, you don’t hear it. The brushes? They go away. I can get the vibe, but in a more modern way. Usually they come around, and say, “I do want to hear the definition of the bass.” I’ll put up the room mics, and I can use old ribbon mics. I can get that sound, but keep it a little more modern so it’s going to hold up on the radio, or in a playlist, or on an album.

Do you track a fair amount of rock bands these days?

Yeah, totally. I had an album nominated for a Grammy [in 2022] for Best Rock Album. Black Pumas’ Capitol Cuts: Live from Studio A. We did that live to 2-track. That was really fun – a band live in the room. I still do a lot of tracking with bands. I love it. I don’t even know how to break up how much different work I do, whether it’s film, TV, video games, Dolby Atmos, or whatever it is.

Steve Genewick

You’re do a lot of mixing in Atmos. What’s your take on it?

I love it. I was actually one of the very first engineers to mix music only in Dolby Atmos. Certainly the first one for Universal. I’ve probably done more Dolby Atmos music mixes than anybody else, at this point. I’m a few hundred mixes in. I love it! I was around for the 5.1 [surround sound] days, which was really fun and really great, but as soon as you’d take it out of the studio, it all fell apart. Moving into an immersive format was not that big of a transition. The transition was, “Here’s this new technology of Dolby Atmos that works with the render and object-based mixing,” which was technically a little bit different than doing 5.1 or 7.1.

Can you explain that? I’m not even sure what object-based mixing means.

Yeah. 5.1 and 7.1 are channel-based mixing. Left, center, right, left side, right side, left surround, and right surround. We’re always steering sounds into those positions, those speakers. If you mix in 7.1, you play it back on a 7.1 system and everything shows up where it’s supposed to be. The thing about Dolby Atmos is that it doesn’t matter how many speakers the listener has. The playback system figures out where to put the elements. At my house I have a 7.1.2 system. At Capitol, most of our systems are 7.1.4, at least. With the object-based mixing, we use the Dolby [Atmos] Renderer, and we have what they call “objects.” An object is a place in space, if that makes sense. I can assign a guitar to “object 12.” I take object 12 and I move it into the room. If I have a speaker there, it will come out of the speaker. If I don’t have a speaker, it will triangulate, or whatever it has to do to still get the sound to come out of that spot. Dolby Atmos doesn’t care. At Capitol, in our mix room, we have 20 speakers. There are three down the walls, four across the back, and six over the top. It’s very detailed. I can put sounds wherever, and there’s probably a speaker really close to it. If I’m in a movie theater, that might have 50 speakers because it covers more space. The playback system in that movie theater knows, “I have to get object 12 to come out here.” If I bring it home, I don’t have 20 speakers. I have 10 speakers, but object 12 still has to come out there. The renderer figures out how to place it there.

Fascinating.

I mixed to Dolby Atmos for two years before anything got released. There were only five of us doing it. When I started mixing, I had no clue how, where, or when any of it was going to get heard. If you wanted to hear Dolby Atmos and you didn’t know me or somebody at the studio, you couldn’t hear it.

You’re used to working at some of the best studios in the world. What was the main priority when putting together a home studio?

For me, in any room – professional room, home studio, or whatever it is – it’s about the monitoring. If you can’t hear well, you’re faking yourself out. I had a pretty good grasp on what my little room did. In stereo I used Sonarworks to help out. When the pandemic hit, I moved into my living room. It’s a much bigger space, and I put the Atmos system up. I spent a lot of time trying to get my monitoring right. Calibrating, levels, and time alignment. I’m lucky that I have really good relationships with PMC speakers. They’re a partner of ours at Capitol. Maurice [Patist], who runs PMC, is a really good friend of mine. My home studio is not the ideal Atmos studio, but it was what I could pull together in a pandemic with the world shut down. I have a mixture of PMC and JBL speakers. I’ve used JBLs for years. Again, not the most ideal situation, but it’s working. We did have one room available to us at Capitol that nobody was using, that was completely locked down, so I could be the only one who went in there. After a month or two of the pandemic, I could get to the point where I could mix 14 or 15 songs, take them on a drive, go to that other studio, check my mixes, and tweak whatever I had to tweak. After six or eight months of doing that, I got a better grip on what my room was doing and what I was listening for.

Al Schmitt was famous for his light-handed EQ approach. With tracking and mixing, what’s your relationship with EQ like?

Obviously, I learned quite a bit from Al. A lot of my philosophy and workflow and techniques are based on what he did, especially if I’m doing a big band record, a string date, or a jazz record. Then, in those cases, it’s not unusual for me to not be using EQ, using very little compression, and lots of fader rides. That’s how I’ve been listening to records for 20 years, sitting next to Al, so it’s very familiar to me. I like it, and it works. Al was very famous for not using EQ, but when Al needed to use an EQ, he used it. It wasn’t like he never ever used an EQ. He just didn’t use it on what he was recording, because he would go fix it in the room. But if he was mixing for somebody else, and he needed to grab an EQ, he did. I’ll do the same thing. I mix 100 percent in-the-box now. It started out more as a necessity, because I was traveling and people didn’t show up for mixes anymore, so I had to be 100 percent recallable. Now I really enjoy it. It sounds great in-the-box. I have some control surfaces here, so I have faders available to me. I do a lot of automation. It is probably in lieu of tons of compression.

Are you usually getting a sound and then doing rides? Or do you set up automation first and then do processing?

At this point, it’s a two-part process, especially with vocals. With the music element of it, not the vocal element, I’ll build from the bottom up. Bass and drums, add the keyboards, add the guitars. Build up a really good mix just with levels. If something needs a touch of EQ, I’ll put it on. I’m usually not doing real surgical work unless something is really broken. If I’m getting tracks to mix that I didn’t record, I’m probably going to spend a little more time going through and listening before I start mixing. I’ll get a basic, pretty good mix going. When I get to the vocals, I do the automation in two separate parts. If it’s something that I’ve recorded, like I learned from Al, I’m usually riding gain as I record it. In that case, I’m pretty confident in the recording level. Most of the tracks I get to mix from other people these days: It’s not that they don’t have the knowledge to do that, it’s usually because they don’t have the ability to do it, because a lot of times they don’t have a fader. It’s a home studio, and they’re taking a mic, going right into a preamp and compressor, and that’s the level. Or they have a compressor on it in Pro Tools, so they’re not really hearing the dynamics on the vocals. So, before I put any processing on anything – no compressors, no nothing – I’ll go through and do a couple of passes of automation in Pro Tools so it’s just fader rides smoothing it out. Then I take that volume automation and convert it to clip gain.

We can do that?

Yeah! In Pro Tools HD you can. Highlight the vocal, and under [Edit/]Automation it says, “Convert Volume Automation to Clip Gain.” I’ll flip the playlist and convert it. Now I have the playlist as it “should have been recorded.” Now, when I put a compressor on, it’s not slamming. It can do it as 2 or 3 dB of compression without the loud parts squashing at 10 dB, and the soft parts not hitting it at all. Then I can go through and get my sound, whatever that is. I don’t use a lot of de-essers. I’ll just go through and clip gain down the esses if they’re really that bad. That’s another pass. I can do it really quick. I have a [function] key set up and hit the button. It brings it down 5 dB. I’ll do a couple of passes of work like that on the vocal. At that point, I can find the right compressor for the sound, or add a little EQ. Then I go through and do my [volume] rides relative to the music. I don’t do a lot of parallel compression. Every once in a while, if I need to, I will; but otherwise, I’m pretty straight-ahead with just fader rides. I like doing them. I’m learning the song while I do it.

Half of mixing these days is just fixing and prepping your tracks in Pro Tools.

Yeah. Probably 80 percent of what I do is getting it to the point where it should have been delivered to me. I’ll work on a song for five hours and then mix it in an hour and a half.

It’s exhausting, too. I need to come back with a fresh brain and ears.

Yeah, we need to separate the two, for sure. I always like having a rough mix, just so that I know where they left off and what they’ve been listening to. “Oh, they have tons of reverb on this record! Okay, we’ll have tons of reverb.”

Do you use hardware reverbs at home?

I don’t. I’m all in-the-box now. When I first started mixing in-the-box, that was the one thing that wasn’t [there]. I did have some hardware reverbs, but, as the plug-ins have gotten better over the last eight or nine years, I’ve gravitated to them.

What effects do you like to use in-the-box?

I use a lot of [Universal Audio] UAD [plug-ins]. Especially the Capitol Chambers plug-in, which I tell people I helped develop out of sheer selfishness because I need them at home.

Yeah, great work by the way! I use it all the time.

Yeah, me too. A lot of times, the plug-in is more useful than the actual chamber, because I can change things in the plug-in. I can’t go down [into the chamber] and change the mics! When we made the plug-in, we were down there for days changing mics out, moving them, and giving ourselves all these parameters for the plug-in that don’t exist in the real world. Unless something breaks, we don’t go down there. A lot of what I use [in-the-box] is based on how I learned to mix in the analog domain, such as the [Lexicon] 480L, EMT 250, and plate reverbs. Nothing that’s really that different from what everybody else uses. I use a lot of [Soundtoys] EchoBoy for delays, and FabFilter EQs and compressors. They’re great.

What current projects are you excited about?

It’s been a lot of Atmos mixing lately, which has been great. It’s been Christmas for the last six months. Nobody did Christmas records last year, so they’re all doing them this year. Everybody got locked down last year and couldn’t do it. It used to be June to August was Christmas [album sessions]. Now that there’s streaming, it seems to be June through Christmas. I mixed a song last week! We’re a week before Christmas, but I did it that day and it was streaming online the next day. Some of it was catalog, older Christmas records in Atmos.

That must be fun to work on!

Sometimes. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass.

Are they mostly multitracks or stems?

It depends on what it is. The really old material is 3-track and 4-track. That’s a little more difficult, because I have to figure out a way to pull it apart. We have different techniques for doing that. Some of the new music is fun. I get stems. We don’t have bus processing in Atmos the same as we have in stereo. The way to do it is different, and what it does is different. Sometimes, if people are leaning on the stereo bus processing for the sound of a record, when it goes into Atmos we need to recreate that in different ways.

Is there a master track in Atmos?

No, there are 128 of them! So, yeah; with bus compression and bus processing, not only is the way to do it different, but what it does is different. It doesn’t have the “glue” that we have in stereo. It just has level.

Interesting. Because it’s not fighting for the space?

Right. We’re not trying to jam all that sound in there. We’re doing the opposite, splitting it apart. I have to do a lot more work in the mix. I can’t lean on the bus.

You’ve recorded and mixed some of my favorite albums, but I wanted to mention the Chris Botti album, Italia. Paula Cole singing “The Very Thought of You,” is one of the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever heard.

That was the rehearsal. Live vocal. She only sang that song one time.

Holy shit.

Yeah, that’s what I said too!

Wow, it’s beautiful.

I distinctly remember cutting that song. It’s burned in my memory. There are a few that burned in, and that’s one of them. I remember saying, “Just run it.” “Okay, you guys ready?” “Yeah, we’re rolling.” It just happened. I remember thinking, “Damn, she’s good! Holy shit!” And we never did it again. That was the end of it. No tuning. Al [Schmitt] mixed it, but that was it. Chris wanted to redo the trumpet solo, but he couldn’t because it was bleeding into everything else. Those are great records. We had fun doing those records.

Yeah. Thanks for setting such a high bar. I really mean it.

It’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

Yeah. It keeps the rest of us honest.

It keeps me honest. I’m in the same boat as everybody else. I’m lucky enough, sometimes, to be able to work at places like Capitol, EastWest [Studios], and Abbey Road. We’re all just capturing music. That’s the idea. Try not to fuck it up!

Well, thank you so much. Also, I’m sorry you’ve lost your friend, Al. Obviously that was a huge loss for our whole industry.

Everybody, yeah. The end of an era. We move on. It’s what he would have wanted.

Yeah, and, luckily, we have a lot of really great music to listen to and remember him.

And a lot of great information. Even moving forward, we have the big band video that we did and the Mix With The Masters video that we’ve done. There’s so much information about how he went about doing his job that’s out there. People can still learn from him, still understand why he did what he did, and why people kept working with him for 70 years. For one of the last projects we did before lockdown, he mixed a Diana Krall record [Turn Up the Quiet] in Dolby Atmos. It’s 100 percent in-the-box. He did it. If you think about it, he went from being at his uncle’s studio in the ‘30s, watching recordings made straight to glass lacquers, and all the way through the music industry to mixing Dolby Atmos, 100 percent inside a computer. And everything in between. It’s pretty incredible.

That truly is mind-blowing.

Yeah. It truly is. We were talking about doing more of that mixing, and then unfortunately he passed away before we could.

What a legacy. That’s really incredible.

I feel so blessed and lucky to have been able to sit there for almost 25 years, next to Al making records, and all the people who worked with him. I got to work with just about everybody I ever wanted to. I didn’t get to do three Bob Dylan records because I was sitting there. I was lucky enough to do those because those were with Al. Granted, I had my role in them. As his wife Lisa said, “Now you have a new job.” My new job is that I get to carry that torch and keep his legacy going, and I’m perfectly happy to do that.

That’s pretty special.

Yeah, I think so too. I’m going to treat it that way.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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