I’d always liked Nina Simone’s recording of ‘Feelin’ Good.’ [Originally written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1965 musical: The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd]. As it’s not too onerous of a song to unlock, I thought I’d try my own arrangement. However, I didn’t feel that I was up to the task of doing all the parts alone—I think the reason was that it is a standard and not my own invention. When I do my own recordings, there’s no chance of mucking it up too badly since I can change the entire thing in mid-stream or simply discard the results entirely.
Because it’s difficult to get a bunch of musicians in a room together to record (even when they’re part of the same band), I thought I’d attempt a digitally distanced production. Of course, this brings its own set of challenges. And, as I’d never tried it before, it truly was an experiment.
Immediately, I’d thought of three gents to attempt it with me. Mick Emery on Sax (‘Synthophone,’ for which he’d quickly correct me), Ralph Diekemper on keyboard, and Jeff Lynch on bass. I knew that each was digitally-oriented and might enjoy the process. They all agreed to take it on. As it turned out, none of the three knew one another and, so far as I know, have not met one another to this day.
Alone, I recorded the main structure—the arrangement, percussion and guitar parts were laid down. In turn, I sent each of my cohorts a digital, unmixed audio file. When they found the time and developed the inclination, they placed that combined track into their audio recording application of choice and recorded their part. The beginning of the track I supplied was marked ‘zero point’ for everyone so as to keep us all in-sync. Each of their tracks was sent back to me (via email or internet download)—their track remaining segregated from the track I’d sent them. Upon receipt of all three newly-recorded tracks, I set about to confirm synchronization so their part was placed where I’d requested them to perform. From there, it was a matter of mixing everyone together and adding a few more small elements to complete the process. No one, but yours truly, heard anyone else’s track until the final mix.
In the end, a recording was created with contributions from four separate musicians, having recorded those parts at four separate times, in separate locations.
I urge you to learn more about each of these gifted and generous individuals: