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May 19, 2020:

UNCHARTED TERRITORY

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish, listening to perhaps what I consider to be one of the greatest albums ever made – Bill Evans with Symphony Orchestra, with arrangements and orchestrations by Claus Ogerman.  I have never been thrilled with any of its CD incarnations – they sound okay, but I keep praying for one that I find perfect.  That was the case with the Bill Evans album Conversations with Myself – never happy with any of the CDs, including a Japanese pressing.  Then came an SACD that was breathtaking and absolutely perfect.  I then found out that they’d done an SACD for the Symphony Orchestra album, but it was sold out everywhere.  I found one copy on Amazon – the asking price was $900.  That was two years ago and I’ve been on the hunt for it ever since, to no avail.  I did find one for $400, not that I would ever go near a price like that, but I wrote the guy for fun and it turns out he not only didn’t have it, it was just the regular Japanese import.  Last week, I decided to search again and found that there was a new Japanese release, something called an HMCD.  That’s a new kind of CD material that supposedly is better, but if an album is using the same CD master, then how much better is it going to be?  And then Blu-spec CDs came after and are supposedly even better, so who can keep up.  Still it was cheap, and I got it and am listening to it now – and A/Bing it with the Japanese import I have to say it is a little cleaner and clearer-sounding.  But at the same time, I also hit the jackpot and found a really reasonable copy of the SACD, talked the guy down so it was VERY reasonable, and that’s on its way to me and I cannot wait to hear it.  That one can only be played on an SACD player (not a hybrid – and neither was Conversations with Myself), so I use the Blu-ray player for that.  And you will be the first to know my thoughts.  Meanwhile, if you’ve never heard this album, it’s just the most beautiful creation, musical magic from start to finish.

Yesterday turned out to be a very busy day.  I was up at eleven after seven hours of sleep.  I then spend thirty minutes finessing the final track we had to do – this one was tricky because several sections of it are rubato and have to be tied to the singer’s timing.  In this case, the singer is Guy Haines and I happen to know his timing, so we just went line by line and got it just right.

Then I did four Zoom rehearsals in a row.  The first three was for the trio, and the final was for the lead voice in the opening number, the lead voice being Daniel Bellusci.  Those went well and were all fun and I think everyone is now on the same page.  I got the first member of the group number’s video/audio and that was very interesting, in that despite all our instructions, certain things were off the beats, a couple of entrances were late, and a couple of wrong notes.  This is very complicated the way we’re doing it because the group sings stuff over each other in counterpoint, so it all has to be precise, plus they’re recording using ear buds so all we hear on the video/audio is their raw vocal.  That’s then given to Richard, who mixes it onto the track – we have a way of synching audio and video with the track and that works fine, but if anyone is in any way late or singing the wrong rhythm we can’t line it up – I mean, Richard can move the vocal around in Pro Tools and line it up, but the video will then not be in synch, so it’s on the singers to get it perfect.  And that person did get it perfect at the end, so we know it can work.  I got one other video at the end of the evening, and I’m thinking that person actually is right all the way through.  So, the plan is to have a group Zoom meeting to go over each and every line for notes and rhythm and entrances and cut-offs.  That won’t take very long, actually and I think it will be helpful.  And we’re going to give them two alternate accompaniment tracks and they can choose which will be best out of the three they have – the one they have, one with a click track, and one with their notes plunked out.  That should do the trick.  The trio number is much easier but for us this is all uncharted territory.

After that, I went to the mail place and picked up a package, but the second package via DHL of course wasn’t there by five and, in fact, was not delivered at all, so that’s a call I have to make today. I don’t think there’s a worse service than DHL.  Then I came home and finally made my meal – faux chicken stroganoff over white rice.  It was really good.  Then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture entitled Johnny Guitar, starring Miss Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Ernest Borgnine, and in one of the weirdest and most outre performances in the history of cinema, Mercedes McCambridge.  Directed by Nicholas Ray, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.  It’s audacious, strange, funny, and totally out there and it’s wildly enjoyable.  The film was shot in Trucolor, so it’s never looked great, but this transfer is reasonably okay.  It was fun to see it again.

Then I took a drive, came home, finished finessing the commentary, and began listening to music whilst finally relaxing.

Today, I’ll be up by ten, then we’ll have our Zoom thing at eleven.  Then hopefully everyone in the opening and trio will shoot their videos and get them to us.  Then I’ll do stuff on the computer, eat, hopefully get the DHL package, and then I’ll do whatever else needs doing and wait for videos to come in so I can forward them and get the complicated stuff out of the way.  Then at some point I’ll watch, listen, and relax.

The rest of the week is more of the same, then on Friday all the main singers have a Zoom rehearsal, so that will be fun.  Oh, and on Thursday I am getting a haircut – hallelujah, baby.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up by ten, have a Zoom thing, eat, hopefully pick up packages, hopefully get videos, watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Miss Joan Crawford and Mr. Ernest Borgnine?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, hoping we continue to navigate the uncharted territory successfully.

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