Phil Merriman

A completely new tonal palette

When my brother asked me to produce his EP, I hadn’t realised what magic was to follow. The list of instruments in the brief was piano (to be expected, since that’s his profession) tabla (less expected), viola, bass and trombone. Quite a combination.

At times the need was for a traditional jazz ensemble sound, with fresh vibrant piano, and standard rhythm section, and at other times the brief called for blended saxophone, trombone and viola creating a brand new chorale like timbre.  Where possible we recorded all musicians playing together – simply that the scoring called for musicians to ‘play off’ one another.

Although we now have a wonderful Yamaha U3 piano, at the time we didn’t have a real piano- so we used a combination of Roland piano – for the touch, attached via MIDI to a Nord, for the initial sound, and then plenty of work in post-production to create a sound that we all felt reflected the sound of the piano we needed for the project.

Proverb, the second track on the EP is one of my favourite pieces of music ever written. Which is a blessing and a curse when trying to mix it! The contours of the piece demanded interplay between all instruments – although the saxophone had to be tracked afterwards so some parts of the interaction before the sax addition were left open ended. Thankfully the saxophone more than completed the jigsaw – and the finished mix is quite astonishing.

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