December 10, 2012
I'm sitting here in sort of a twilit mood, not sure if it's from having listen to the new cd as it changes through the mixing process and turning into a musical expression of who we are as a band. Or the realization of just how remarkable the people I work with are. I told them in the beginning of this project that I wanted more then they could give and then some. Now I'm laughing my butt off because they haven't heard these mix's yet from Abbey Road, for one I don't want them to think their all that and a bag of chips, but let's just say they are who I thought they were and way more then they think they are. Hopefully with the help of Smoothjazz.com Global Radio Drivetime's music will reach around the world. I urge all of you to support not only Drivetime's music but a new crew of SJ artist like us who need new and fresh SJ enthusiasts for inspiration. Ignition's debut date is Dec 15th so make a note to tune in to www.smoothjazz.com we'll be in rotation and banner streamed. Interact tell them what you like and don't like, be a part of our community. For DrivetimeUOJ it's always a party from the first note to the last!!!
May 11, 2012
Where we stand at the moment, all but four tunes are in mix-down the last four tunes will be done in two weeks. After my final approval they’ll be off to Abby Road Studio’s in London for the mastering which will take about a week so we are very, very close to the final product. To say we all poured our souls and sweat into this project would be an understatement, as Michael Tozzi keeps telling me, look at it this way “this is the last cd you’ll ever make” so now I’m really going over it with a fine tooth comb, but he’s right, I am looking to create a legacy with “Ignition” and if it’s the last thing we ever do I want it to be memorable.
Let me start off by saying my humble appreciation and sincere gratitude to all the guy's in the band for doing an extraordinary job, their talent and downright drive to make this cd work has be awe inspiring. I want to thank Andrew Neu, Phyllis Chapell, Justin Guarini and Vinnie Zummo for their outstanding contribution to the project. I would like to also thank Jeff Bichaylo for his extremely prolific ability to write and collaborate with me on a good portion of the material, also John & Jimmy’s contributions. In the course of doing this project which has take up about a year and a half of my brain and heart and soul, I've begun to realize and reflect on how important this process is to me. In the immortal words of Steve Miller "Time keeps on slipin’ slipin’ slipin’ into the future" yes life goes on and we do our best to capture those moments in music. In this project I've tried to capture the essence of our sound without just re-creating an expression of what's trendy in what I like to call the smooth jazz machine. Me being the consummate rebel that I am, we all tried to write tunes that had more of a original Philly sound with the emotions of the streets we all grew up on and with a more defined Drivetime personality, see it's not enough for me to just put out carbon copy's of what’s popular just to sell tunes. Every single tune on this cd was hand crafted by me for you the listener.
December 19, 2011
As Christmas heads our way I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement through this year and to wish you and your families Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May all the best of life come your way. In many ways this is a pivotal point in the band's development. Do realize the band will have been together seven years as of February 2012. Through difficult times and many personal changes, we have finally settled into our own sound and our own stride. I am happy to report that six of the tunes from the new CD INGNITION are in mix-down at Clear Track Studios, Tampa Bay, Florida. At the mixing console is my good friend and EMI associate Jim Forbes, who mixed our first CD “Movies For Your Mind." He was phenomenal then; I can only imagine how much he’s grown since. From there we’ll take it to Abbey Road Studios in London for the final mastering. If that doesn’t get you excited you better check your pulse. So all in all it’s been a great year for us, and we will have the CD done as soon as we can.
I want to thank Andrew Neu, whose performance on the composition “Lincoln Drive” is like butter. Andrew effortlessly finesses’ the daylights out of this tune. I want to thank Phyllis Chapell for her killer Portuguese version of “Mas Que Nada” as the original made popular by Sergio Mendaz & Lani Hall back in the 60”s. Also want to thank Justin Guarini for taking a chance on one of my original compositions “ Urban Symphony” which is really my 60’s peace loving side of me popping out. I’m letting my freak flag fly on this one, boy’s and girls, but seriously Justin nails this suck-a to the wall. And my deepest thanks to Jimmy Dell'Orefice who helped arrange and engineer most of the live performances. Many thanks to Richard, Chris, Mike and John who haven’t killed me yet. To say I’ve been picky or focused on what I want is an understatement. Hopefully it will pay off in the final product. In closing, again I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and the best in the coming year. Bless each and every one of you.
August 31, 2011
Last week Phyllis Chapell came out to record a few tracks with us for our upcoming album “Ignition”. Jimmy and I worked with Phyllis and I have to say, every time she comes out, magic happens. It’s really great working with such a talent like Phyllis! For those who don’t know, Phyllis can perform as a solo with vocals and guitar, or as a duo with varying instruments (keys, bass, percussion, wind instruments) and upwards to a full ensemble. She’s amazing. Definitely check out one of her upcoming shows or purchase her latest album, “The Other Side of the River”. You will not be disappointed!
Since having Phyllis Chapell in town was so amazing for Jimmy and I, we wanted to share that experience as best as possible with you, Drivetime fans! With that said, we conducted a brief interview with Phyllis to help you get to know her, her love for jazz, and why she decided to take time out of her busy schedule to come record with us!
Below is the Q&A between Drivetime and Phyllis Chapell:
Drivetime: How was it working with Drivetime when recording tracks for "Ignition"?
Phyllis Chapell: Love working with Bernie and Jimmy. They're the best!
Drivetime: What's your all-time favorite Drivetime track? Why?
Phyllis Chapell: Well, I do love Gettin’ Wit’it -- very well-written, funky and well-produced.
Drivetime: Who are some of your favorite Jazz artists out there right now?
Phyllis Chapell: Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Esperanza Spalding, to name a few. In my band SIORA, is actually my favorite male jazz vocalist--he's my drummer but also does some vocals--his name is Paul Jost.
Drivetime: How would you describe the Jazz scene in and around Philadelphia? What are some of the best local Jazz hot spots?
Phyllis Chapell: Chris' Jazz Cafe has been the main jazz room in Philly for a few years. I haven't played Chris' though many of my band members have. I did play the Tritone with Drivetime a few years ago. It's a fun room. World Cafe Live (Phila) is the place where I'm doing my release on September 13th (upstairs) at 8:00 p.m. I've played the Firecreek Restaurant in Downingtown. Also a lovely restaurant in Exton called Duling-Kurtz House & Country Inn. Andre Cafe Acoustique in Chester, PA. The PSALM Salon in Wynnefield. Jazz Bridge, a wonderful organization based in Philly area, has some great jazz venues around town (in Mt. Airy, Collingswood, NJ, and other places). And then there's also the Tin Angel in Olde City.
Drivetime: What's your favorite track off of your new album, " The Other Side of the River"?
Phyllis Chapell: Oh, my goodness, it's like picking your favorite child--can't be done! But Otro Lado del Rio, which is the cover song (Other Side of the River), AEIOU and Water Song are the 2 originals. I do love Here's to Life, Crazy, Shenandoah, the Middle Eastern medley (Hinei Ma Tov/Ma Achla'a). Yikes, I love them all!
Well, there you have it, a glimpse into the mind of the great jazz artist, Phyllis Chapell. A very special Drivetime ‘thank you’ to Phyllis Chapell for taking time to record a few tracks for “Ignition” and for answering a few questions for our fans! We can’t wait to record with you again Phyllis!
July 23, 2011
First off today I want to thank Ryan Taft of Catalyst Marketers for the great interview on the MontcoHappening.com web site if you would like to read it here is the link.
Thing’s are truly starting to shaping up real nice for the new CD “Ignition”. Last week we did a session with Andrew Neu on one of our tunes “Lincoln Drive”. I want to thank Andrew for being the consummate musician who came in and just blew Jimmy and myself away. I also encourage you to go out and buy Andrew’s new CD "Try Something Neu". I am so excited about “Lincoln Drive”, written by Jeff Bichaylo and arranged by yours truly. I can’t wait to mix it!
We also made an appearance at Warmdaddy’s this week and that is always just great fun. I want to thank Michael Tozzi for keeping the music alive here in Philly and also Ivan the sound engineer at Warmdaddy’s, Ivan does a great job for us and records every date we do there. One of these days I am going to compile a group of tunes that we don’t have on disk and make a Live At Warmdaddy’s CD.
On the agenda for this week is getting Phyllis Chapell back to do a Drivetime original “It’s Love Were In” written by Jimmy Dell'Orefice and myself. We also did a pre-release of John Sorrenti’s original piece “Beige” which has received very positive reviews so far from ijazzglobal.com, smoothjazz.com and smoothjazz.eu so hang in there we are feverously working to complete the project and I will update everyone periodically as to our progress. Thanks again for your interest in Drivetime.
May 4, 2011
Drivetime Brings Smooth Jazz to the Alzheimer’s Chocolate Symphony
Sunday turned out to be an awesome day, we had the opportunity to perform at the Alzheimer’s Chocolate Symphony at Cairnwood in Bryn Athyn, PA. There we’re some very interesting people who just happen to love our sound, I felt like it was a perfect fit. Now let me tell you why. Mostly these functions are picture perfect as far as the food the drink and the atmosphere but when it comes to the music it usually falls short. Here’s why:
1. Because you will either get a small trio doing Standard Jazz tunes which all seems to run together or
2. A Classical Ensemble that fades totally into the woodwork.
Drivetime has that unique ability to set that subtle groove that makes people subconsciously start tapping their foot. It peeks more interest when you can do tunes that everyone recognizes in a way that’s professional and entertaining and the volume is at a tolerable level. I can’t tell you how many folks came up to us and said how much they appreciated listening to REAL musicians. To me this is the ultimate compliment.
I want to thank Jen Miller and Lisa Radin for taking a chance and using Drivetime for this event because there was the possibility that we could have just blown out the place if we we’re less consciences about for who and where we we’re playing. I also would like to thank the Alzheimer Association for doing such great work trying to abate this life stealing disease.
As many Drivetime fans know, we are feverishly working on our latest project, “Ignition”. To help give fans an inside glimpse into our recording process I’ll do my best to paint a picture of what’s involved when we record our smooth jazz tunes. The very first thing that we need to do is write the tunes and in that regard we have plethora of talent, everyone in the band can write so when we’re looking for material everyone presents their ideas. We then look for a catchy melody and hook straight away, if something that a band member has written has both of these components then it goes into the pool of possible tracks for the album. With the modern convenience of home recording everyone’s individual ideas are easier to present. Once we narrow down the tunes that we think fit the theme of the jazz album, or the band in general, we learn them and play them out as often as we can to give them a more intimate feel. At this point confidence in the material is critical.
One advantage Drivetime has is two pre production studios to make the recording process much easier. Jimmy’s studio is mainly for sketching out tracks and live performances, sax, vocals, B3 and drums. My studio is for added FX, bass tracks, percussion and arranging. Everything is kept on an external hard drive for transporting back and forth from Jimmy’s studio to mine. Once the basic form of a particular tune is in place I then concentrates on individual performances. Over time we have learned it is better to work with one person at a time when you really want them to feel comfortable and this way there is no waiting around for someone else to finish their parts, you can lose all your momentum just waiting around. Unless you have an extremely large budget where you can hang for days at a studio in New York or LA without worrying about time, this just simply makes more sense.
One issue we have to overcome recording this way is that when you’re working on twelve tunes at a time it’s really hard to keep track of what you have done or haven’t done. Usually I have to constantly update the inventory sheet of what’s been done, and what we need to do, by going over the tracks with a fine tooth comb to make sure they have been recorded correctly and have no stupid mistakes. You wouldn’t believe how often we find a bad fingering or buzz from an instrument that detracts from the performance which really isn’t that hard to fix. We are going for QUALITY jazz music here. We either have the player come back to do that line or steal it from another section of the tune and just drop it in. I don’t see this as cheating because it really is a time saver and we want to get that quality smooth jazz material out to our fans as quickly as possible.
Next all the tracks go to our producer, in this case that would be Jeff Bichaylo who is also our writing partner and the secret weapon of Drivetime. Why is he a secret weapon you may ask? Talent pure un-censored talent and honesty, he is exactly what you want when you’re doing a project like this. His job is to scrutinize the material, tracks and arrangements. Once that is done here comes the most important and most overlooked part of the recording process, carving out with EQ the spaces for each instrument so when you are listening to a piece each player has his own cut out place in the tune and is not blurred or interfered with by another frequency.
Hey, You done yet? Nope! Once Jeff is done it then everything goes to our label Slot1 Studio for mixing. Then it’s off to mastering which is the process of giving the work the polish or shine for radio. OK now it’s time for the Artwork, cover design, reproduction and promotions and that will have to wait till my next blog.
February 15, 2011
Hi ya’ll, what a ridiculous winter this has been and as always, hard winters like this one also bring some sad news with it. James Read our first manager/promoter and good friend has been very ill and the likelihood of recovery is not possible. Drivetime owes it’s humble beginnings to James and we are eternally grateful for his guidance and help in the early days of the band. We are going to dedicate our new CD “Ignition” to James for his faith in us. James is truly a renaissance man, a glass blower, artist, carpenter and all around fun guy who has added so much to our lives it’s almost impossible to express our sadness of James not being around.
Now on to more uplifting news, I just found out today that our version of “What You Won’t Do For Love” with Justin Guarini has made it to www.smoothjazz.com this has been a long time coming and I would like to thank our label manager Rick Denzien at Slot1 Entertainment for his tenaciousness and not letting this opportunity slide on by. We have also had an honorable mention in an article about Justin in the Morning Call http://blogs.mcall.com/lehighvalleymusic/2011/02/doylestowns-justin-guarini-to-take-over-role-in-broadways-american-idiot.html
Thanks to John J. Moser who always takes care of us.
“Ignition” update: All the tunes are written and in the process of development, although this winter has made it almost impossible to get to the studio we are plugging along, artwork is in the works too. Our artwork is being done by Lucretia Coleman of Jameri Artistry http://www.jameriartistry.com please check out her work, she is amazing.
James made a very peaceful transition at 6:02 PM last evening. He was a unique individual to say the least. He will be sorely missed, not only buy us but the whole Doylestown community that he loved so much. As Donna his wife always says "Cool Runnings" bro. See you when we get there.