Tag Archives: Sound Forge

7 Legendary Music Producers Who Continue to Teach Me Everything I Know…

With the untimely passing of Super Producer Kashif Saleem and the sudden sad news of Ultra-Compsoer Rod Temperton‘s death, I’ve been in Reflective Mode, remembering those who’ve most influenced me as a producer and in whose muse I most rely on when I am trying to make the best musical decision on a project.

As I explored my vast vinyl collection (one benefit of age), I began to notice a common theme among my favorites. For One, the Best Producers simply ‘stayed out of the way of the artist’ – even if they were the composer. Secondly, The Best are equally adept in multiple styles of music. I was often surprised to find their MusicPrints on a variety of different genre.

For that reason, I have NOT Included L.A. & Babyface or their predecessors Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis or even Teddy Riley, all of whom I highly respect and admire. But these teams ushered in an era of the Superstar Producer whose stature overshadowed both The Song and The Artist. Additionally, although they worked with Musical Acts outside of their immediate genre, the production itself never ‘dissolved’ into the style they were attempting.

I also stayed away from My  Absolute Heroes, each now deceased George Duke, Maurice White & Prince.  Since Motown is it’s own genre, I left them out (for now, but look out for a future blog). And I Did Not The Master Maestro, Stevie Wonder for Extremely Obvious Reasons!

It is extremely difficult to present a “countdown” as if  One Producer is/was Better than the other, irregardless of the number of Grammys, Albums or Artists they produced. In fact, I’ve gone a little out of my way to honor several producers who are not necessarily ‘household names,’ but set standards of experimentation and truth many modern producers obey like the Ten Commandments.

So, Let’s Get Started:

My Personal Homage to Q is his ability to create an experience inside each song. He doesn’t look for the  easiest way to the bridge and allows a chorus to build until it percolates, all the while leaving room for God to walk in the room (his words).

I tried to utilize this approach on “Meant2B

My Personal Homage to Arif is Chaka‘s “What Cha Gonna Do For Me” album. It’s the Statement of the Century and clearly the reason she rose up the ranks from Funk Queen to True Diva. The Songs, The Musicians, The Arrangements, The Sound he created around her voice is probably the reason I most often seek female vocalists to sing my songs.

Nohoour” is such an example

  • Russ Titleman – Russ’ work is hidden in the liner notes of some of your favorite albums. From the first Graham Central Station disc to James Taylor, Eric Clapton and On & On, this Brother’s Production Chops are among the greatest chart toppers out there. His Productions are Clean, Crisp & Clear.

My Personal Homage to Russ is his total transparency in all of the work I have listened to. The Artist is center stage and Titleman simply gives them wings to fly and gets out of the way.

I learned this lesson on “Source

  • Tommy LiPuma – I was 17 when I opened up the First YellowJackets Album and discovered the Magic of Mr. LiPuma. This Man is the Definition of a Music Producer and Everyone from Barbara Streisand to George Benson has called upon him to make their projects soar.  Tommy’s projects sound like a Groove Machine inside a Butter Factory; Rich & Warm and Simultaneously Slick.

My Personal Homage to Mr. Lipuma is rooted in the Casino Lights Album, arguably one of the best Live Albums I own. The Set features the aforementioned YellowJackets, Al Jarreau, Randy Crawford, David Sanborn and Neil Larsen & Buzzy Feiten. The album did what a great production should and made me a fan of each artist!

I was pretending to be Tommy when I produced Eric Tyus’ “Stop On By

  • Jerry Wexler  – was slightly before my time of actually making music, but I can remember my ears glued to my step father’s stereo when Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding was on. We ate Cornbread & Buttermilk in those days and that’s exactly what Wexler’s mixes sound like. Biscuits & Gravy, Hog Guts pouring right out of the speakers and onto the living room floor and when I got turned on to Led Zeppelin and Cream as a teenager, I KNEW those White Boys ate Cornbread too.

My Personal Homage to Mr. Wexler’s legacy is his commitment to Down Home SOUL, which is not a geographical location, but in the heart of True Musicians & Singers. Jerry Wexler Captured It and Archived It forever.

I attempted to do the same on “Blues Crossing” 

I began this post by noting the passing of Kashif and Rod Temperton. Both of these men’s music enveloped, encouraged and inspired my formative years. I am deeply indebted to Kashif by dissecting his eponymous debut and equally seductive”Send Me Your Love.” And You & I both know that Every Single R&B Slow Jam since 1977 follows the law laid down by Temperton’s “Always & Forever

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THE TRUTH

Presently our family is walking through a season in which one of our three daughters made a decision to not be truthful about a matter that affected a few families we know. Her actions caused confusion, emotions were damaged and the last few weeks became very difficult. My daughter offered statements which were absolutely believable. But once she confessed The Truth of the matter, we were able to apologize to all parties concern, offer restitution and begin the healing process.

I also took an opportunity to travel out to a music showcase that featured four prominent musicians, in a very unique setting. They all played the same instrument, were each gifted, technically skilled and knew their craft. Each gave rousing, even blistering solos in their sets, as they performed together and separately and each were adept at being absolutely believable. But only one told The Truth, and the audience knew it.

Stepping back from these two spectrums reminded me of my own journey as an EntreMusician, and the many EMs I read about, know and listen to. There is a ton of believable music out there. Many of us have been coached to use certain sounds, beats, tempos and even software to massage and manage our craft to fit certain formats, reach strategic demographics and fight for the right space and/or chart positions. Others perform at a level of playing that is credible, reasonable and believable. But very few of us are telling The Truth.

Am I / Are You most focused on how many fans, stations, downloads and merch we are able to attract, reach and sell, while standing on the threshold of believability? Or would we be more devoted to creating the most honest, transparent, sincerest music we can offer, in spite of how many will support us?

Because The Truth is The Light.
Because The Truth always leads to Healing.
Because The Truth will always stand, flat footed, on its own with all convincing, rational, plausible statements kneeling beneath its shadow.

If You Have a Comment, Share it on My Facebook Page to Increase Our Dialogue.

Interestingly, I wasn’t listening to any music while writing this post…

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