Session musician

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Session musician Hal Blaine (pictured 2008) is widely regarded as one of the most prolific drummers in rock and roll history, having "certainly played on more hit records than any drummer in the rock era". Hal Blaine in 2008.jpg
Session musician Hal Blaine (pictured 2008) is widely regarded as one of the most prolific drummers in rock and roll history, having "certainly played on more hit records than any drummer in the rock era".

Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent members of a musical ensemble or band. They work behind the scenes and rarely achieve individual fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders. However, top session musicians are well known within the music industry, and some have become publicly recognized, such as the Wrecking Crew and Motown's The Funk Brothers.

Musical ensemble group of people who perform instrumental and/or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name

A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.

Solo (music) musical piece or part of musical piece performed by a single musician

In music, a solo is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung featuring a single performer, who may be performing completely alone or supported by an accompanying instrument such as a piano or organ, a continuo group, or the rest of a choir, orchestra, band, or other ensemble. Performing a solo is "to solo", and the performer is known as a soloist.

A bandleader is the leader of a music group such as a rock or pop group or jazz quartet. The term is most commonly, though not exclusively, used with a group that plays popular music as a small combo or a big band, such as one which plays jazz, blues, rhythm and blues or rock and roll music. Most bandleaders are also performers with their own band, either as singers or as instrumentalists, playing an instrument such as electric guitar, piano, or other instruments.

Contents

Many session musicians specialize in playing common instruments such as guitar, piano, bass, or drums. Others are specialists, and play brass, woodwinds, and strings. Many session musicians play multiple instruments, which lets them play in a wider range of musical situations, genres and styles. Examples of "doubling" include double bass and electric bass; acoustic guitar and mandolin; piano and accordion; and saxophone and other woodwind instruments.

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Piano musical instrument

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

Drum kit collection of drums and other percussion instruments

A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set, or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell. In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments. Also, both hybrid and entirely electronic kits are used.

Session musicians are used when musical skills are needed on a short-term basis. Typically session musicians are used by recording studios to provide backing tracks for other musicians for recording sessions and live performances; recording music for advertising, film, television, and theatre. In the 2000s, the terms "session musician" and "studio musician" are synonymous, though in past decades, "studio musician" meant a musician associated with a single record company, recording studio or entertainment agency.

Backing track

A backing track is an audio recording on audiotape, CD or a digital recording medium or a MIDI recording of synthesized instruments, sometimes of purely rhythmic accompaniment, often of a rhythm section or other accompaniment parts that live musicians play along with or sing along to. Backing tracks enable singers and bands to add parts to their music which would be impractical or impossible to perform live, such as string section or choir parts which were recorded in the studio. A backing track can be used by a one person band to add any one or more of bass, drums and keyboards to their live shows without the cost of hiring extra musicians. A small pop group or rock band can use backing tracks to add a string section, horn section, drumming or backing vocals to their live shows.

Advertising form of communication for marketing, typically paid for

Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. Sponsors of advertising are typically businesses wishing to promote their products or services. Advertising is differentiated from public relations in that an advertiser pays for and has control over the message. It differs from personal selling in that the message is non-personal, i.e., not directed to a particular individual. Advertising is communicated through various mass media, including traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising or direct mail; and new media such as search results, blogs, social media, websites or text messages. The actual presentation of the message in a medium is referred to as an advertisement, or "ad" or advert for short.

Theatre collaborative form of performing and fine art

Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.

1950s–1960s

During the 1950s and 1960s, session players were usually active in local recording scenes concentrated in places such as Los Angeles, New York City, Nashville, Memphis, Detroit, and Muscle Shoals. [2] [3] [4] Each local scene had its circle of "A-list" session musicians, such as The Nashville A-Team that played on numerous country and rock hits of the era, the two groups of musicians in Memphis, both the Memphis Boys and the musicians who backed Stax/Volt recordings, and the Funk Brothers in Detroit, who played on many Motown recordings. [3]

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California and the second most populous city in the United States, after New York. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. Nicknamed the "City of Angels" partly because of its name's Spanish meaning, Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood, and the entertainment industry, and sprawling metropolis.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, often called New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in both the state of New York and the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Memphis, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. The 2017 city population was 652,236, making Memphis the 25th largest city in the United States. Greater Memphis is the 42nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of 1,348,260 in 2017. The city is the anchor of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region, which includes portions of neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, the most populous county in Tennessee. As one of the most historic and cultural cities of the southern United States, the city features a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.

At the time, multi-tracking equipment, though common, was less elaborate, and instrumental backing tracks were often recorded "hot" with an ensemble playing live in the studio. [5] Musicians had to be available "on call" when producers needed a part to fill a last-minute time slot. [6] In the 1960s, Los Angeles was considered the top recording destination in the United States — consequently studios were constantly booked around the clock, and session time was highly sought after and expensive. [7] Songs had to be recorded quickly in the fewest possible takes. [8] In this environment, Los Angeles producers and record executives had little patience for needless expense or wasted time and depended on the service of reliable standby musicians who could be counted on to record in a variety of styles with minimal practice or takes, and deliver hits on short order. [6] [9]

1970s–present

Studio band

A studio band is a musical ensemble that is in the employ of a recording studio for the purpose of accompanying recording artists who are customers of the studio.

Recording studio facility for sound recording

A recording studio is a specialized facility for sound recording, mixing, and audio production of instrumental or vocal musical performances, spoken words, and other sounds. They range in size from a small in-home project studio large enough to record a single singer-guitarist, to a large building with space for a full orchestra of 100 or more musicians. Ideally both the recording and monitoring spaces are specially designed by an acoustician or audio engineer to achieve optimum acoustic properties.

Notable groups

Studio musicians who recorded during the Nashville sound era. Their contributions began in the 1950s with artists such as Elvis Presley. The original A-Team includes bassist Bob Moore; guitarists Grady Martin, Hank Garland, Ray Edenton, and Harold Bradley; drummer Buddy Harman; pianists Floyd Cramer and Hargus "Pig" Robbins; fiddler Tommy Jackson; steel guitarist Pete Drake; harmonicist Charlie McCoy; saxophonist Boots Randolph; and vocal groups The Jordanaires and The Anita Kerr Singers. Cramer, McCoy and Randolph, along with later A-Teamer and producer Chet Atkins, would later emerge as part of Hee Haw's Million Dollar Band in the 1980s.
The house band at Stax records in Memphis during the 1960s and 1970s, playing behind Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, and others. MGs guitarist Steve Cropper co-wrote many of Redding's hits and the MGs produced albums and hit singles such as "Green Onions" in their own right while being the house band at Stax.
Prolific, established studio musicians based in Los Angeles. They have recorded many songs and albums since the 1960s. The Ron Hicklin Singers (also billed as the Charles Fox Singers) was a vocal session group closely associated with the Wrecking Crew and appeared as backing vocalists on many of the Crew's recordings.
Session musicians who backed many Motown Records recordings from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, as well as a few non-Motown recordings, notably on Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher."
A Los Angeles singer/songwriter scene associated with the Troubadour nightclub and Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s to mid-1970s was supported by musicians Russ Kunkel, Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Craig Doerge. This session combo, nicknamed "the Section" or "the Mafia", backed many musicians, among others: Carole King, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Kris Kristofferson and David Crosby.
A group comprising Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, and Jimmy Johnson, also known as the Swampers, became known for the "Muscle Shoals Sound." Many of the recordings done in the Memphis area, which included Muscle Shoals, Alabama, used The Memphis Horns in their arrangements.
MFSB was a group of soul music studio musicians based in Philadelphia at the Sigma Sound Studios; they later went on to become a name-brand instrumental group, and their best known hit was "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)," better known as the theme from Soul Train .
A vocal group commissioned to provide vocals for Mayoham Music, formed by husband and wife Al Ham and Mary Mayo (the latter of whom was also a member of the group). The group is best known for their jingles and television news themes. "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)," originally composed as a jingle for Coca-Cola, became a surprise hit and the source of the group's recording name, as the Coca-Cola commercial featured singers on a hillside. The New Seekers would have an even larger hit with the same song. Their best-known news theme was "Move Closer to Your World," associated with Capital Cities Communications' Action News local news format.

See also

Related Research Articles

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

Booker T. & the M.G.s R& B/funk band

Booker T. & the M.G.'s are an instrumental R&B/funk band that was influential in shaping the sound of Southern soul and Memphis soul. The original members of the group were Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper (guitar), Lewie Steinberg (bass), and Al Jackson Jr. (drums). In the 1960s, as members of the house band of Stax Records, they played on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor and Albert King. They also released instrumental records under their own name, including the 1962 hit single "Green Onions". As originators of the unique Stax sound, the group was one of the most prolific, respected, and imitated of its era. By the mid-1960s, bands on both sides of the Atlantic were trying to sound like Booker T. & the M.G.'s.

Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the label changed its name to Stax Records in 1961. It was a major factor in the creation of Southern soul and Memphis soul music. Stax also released gospel, funk, and blues recordings. Renowned for its output of blues music, the label was founded by two siblings and business partners, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton. It featured several popular ethnically integrated bands and a racially integrated team of staff and artists unprecedented in that time of racial strife and tension in Memphis and the South.

Alabama has played a central role in the development of both blues and country music. Appalachian folk music, fiddle music, gospel, spirituals, and polka have had local scenes in parts of Alabama. The Tuskegee Institute's School of Music, especially the Tuskegee Choir, is an internationally renowned institution. There are three major modern orchestras, the Mobile Symphony, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra; the last is the oldest continuously operating professional orchestra in the state, giving its first performance in 1955.

The Funk Brothers were a group of Detroit-based session musicians who performed the backing to most Motown recordings from 1959 until the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972.

The Wrecking Crew (music) loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and early 1970s

The Wrecking Crew was a loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and early 1970s, including several hundred Top 40 hits. The musicians were not publicly recognized in their era, but were viewed with reverence by industry insiders. They are now considered one of the most successful and prolific session recording units in music history.

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Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman was an American record producer, guitarist, and Grammy Award-winning songwriter.

Joe Osborn American bassist

Joe Osborn was an American bass guitar player known for his work as a session musician in Los Angeles and Nashville during the 1960s through the 1980s.

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The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, also known as the Swampers, is a group of American studio musicians playing soul, R&B, rock and roll and country, based in the city of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They have appeared on more than 500 recordings, including 75 gold and platinum hits. Originally the house band at Rick Hall's FAME Studios, the group went on to found their own competing business, the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. The group was inducted into the Nashville-based Musicians Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995, "as four of the finest studio musicians in the world", also receiving the Lifework Award in 2008.

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama was formed in 1969 by four session musicians called The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section who had left Rick Hall's nearby FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to create their own recording facility. The group closed the Jackson Highway studio in 1979, moving the operation to 1000 Alabama Avenue. The old studio has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since June 2006. It was partly restored in the early 2000s and was sold to the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation in 2013. This group completed a major restoration and the location reopened on January 9, 2017. The Alabama Avenue location ceased operations in 2005 when it was sold to a record label.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music Soul music museum in Tennessee, United States

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Ronald Marvell Thomas was an American keyboardist, record producer and arranger known for his work in Memphis Soul.

FAME Studios

FAME Studios is a recording studio located at 603 East Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, an area of northern Alabama known as the Shoals. Though small and distant from the main recording locations of the American music industry, FAME has produced a large number of hit records and was instrumental in what came to be known as the Muscle Shoals sound. It was started in the 1950s by Rick Hall, known as the Founder of Muscle Shoals Music. The studio, owned by Hall until his death in 2018, is still actively operating. It was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on December 15, 1997, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. The 2013 award-winning documentary Muscle Shoals features Rick Hall, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and the Muscle Shoals sound originally popularized by FAME.

<i>The Wrecking Crew</i> (2008 film) 2008 film

The Wrecking Crew is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Denny Tedesco, son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco. It covers the story of the Los Angeles–based group of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, famed for having played on numerous hit recordings throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The film premiered at the 2008 South by Southwest Film Festival.

American Sound Studio US recording studio (1967-1971) located at 827 Thomas Street in Memphis, Tennessee

American Sound Studio was a recording studio located at 827 Thomas Street in Memphis, Tennessee. More than one hundred hit songs were recorded there between its founding 1964 and its closing in 1972, The music for these hits was played by the house band "The Memphis Boys", also known as the "827 Thomas Street Band".

Donald "Don" Davis was an American record producer, songwriter and guitarist who combined a career in music with one in banking.

Alfred V. De Lory was an American record producer, arranger, conductor and session musician. He was the producer and arranger of a series of worldwide hits by Glen Campbell in the 1960s, including John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind", Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston". He was also a member of the 1960s Los Angeles session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, and inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007.

Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum Hall of Fame and Museum in Tennessee , USA

The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum (MHOF) honors all musicians regardless of genre or instrument. The MHOF timeline starts with the beginning of recorded music and inductees are nominated by current members of the American Federation of Musicians and by other music industry professionals.

References

  1. "Hal Blaine Biography". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  2. Savona, Anthony (2005). Console Confessions: The Great Music Producers in Their Own Words (First ed.). San Francisico, CA 94107: Backbeat Books. pp. 36–38. ISBN   978-0-87930-860-5.
  3. 1 2 Source A: "The Nashville "A" Team". Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2016.Source B: "Motown Sound: Funk Brothers". Motown Museum . Retrieved January 20, 2016.Source C:Brown, Mick (October 25, 2013). "Deep Soul: How Muscle Shoals Became Music's Most Unlikely Hit Factory". The Telegraph. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  4. Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret (1st ed.). Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 2–5, 110, 175–176. ISBN   978-0-312-61974-9.
  5. "Recording studios – Why Can Recordings Made in the e.g. 1960s Sound Good in 2011?". NAIM. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  6. 1 2 Andrews, Evan (July 1, 2011). "Top 10 Session Musicians and Studio Bands". Toptenz.net. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  7. "The Byrds: Who Played What?". JazzWax. September 4, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  8. Farber, Jim (March 9, 2015). "The Wrecking Crew Documentary Profiles the Secret Players Behind Many 1960s and '70s Rock Hits". Daily News. New York. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  9. Laurier, Joanne (November 14, 2015). "The Wrecking Crew: The "Secret Star-Making Machine" of 1960s Pop Music". World Socialist Website. Retrieved January 21, 2016.