Hudson Music and Keith Carlock: The Big Picture
Reprinted with permission from Drummer Magazine, December 2009
Images: Hudson Music
In April of this year, Hudson Music went into Bennett Studios in New Jersey to create and record a new DVD release with master drummer Keith Carlock, The Big Picture.
Hudson Music founders Paul Siegel and Rob Wallis, along with co-producer Greg McKean and Joe Bergamini, began meeting with Keith around a year beforehand to start discussing topics and content for the DVD, as well as all the organisational particulars that go into such a complicated production. Joe Bergamini takes up the story.
“We met with Keith a handful of times in New York City – in between his insane schedule of recording and touring – discussing various topics Keith would like to include on the DVD, and working on a detailed outline of the different things that would be demonstrated by Keith, performed by his band, and discussed. As the outline developed, Greg took that information to create a budget and shooting schedule, attending to all the finer details such as scheduling the studio, contacting the film crew, and arranging equipment.”
After months of planning, the first day of the shoot arrived and drums were loaded in and set up, with Keith fine-tuning his equipment, supervised by Greg, Rob and Paul. Two days is not a long time for shooting a full-length DVD, so preparation is key.
One thing that many drummers may not understand is the pressure that mounts on the artist once the cameras start to roll. Speaking into a camera and having to create perfect performances in a short amount of time can be a very high-pressure situation, in some ways even more stressful than a major recording. Most drummers have never practised the skills required to come across on camera. Paul and Rob have an established track record at making artists comfortable for video productions and, coupled with Keith’s preparation and hard-working manner, things worked out magnificently.
Hudson’s long-time engineer, Sean McClintock, had already begun the audio set-up, and he and Keith spent the morning getting drum sounds as the crew set up various camera shots in the room. A hand-picked small studio audience, culled from students at Drummers Collective in New York City, and some of Joe Bergamini’s students and professional drummers from the area arrived excited and were led into the studio to take their places.
By mid afternoon Keith launched into an energetic performance of Oz Noy’s ‘Schizophrenic,’which is performed along with a track minus drums. Keith’s DVD will feature a mix of him playing along with tracks, performing live with a band, soloing, explaining and demonstrating topics, and answering questions. The first day of filming was devoted to capturing Keith in all of the segments, with the exception of the sections where he would perform with Wayne Krantz and Tim Lefebvre. Keith rose to the occasion, playing amazingly well and occasionally asking to reshoot a certain scene if he felt he hadn’t explained things as intended. All the while the Hudson crew followed along with the outline from various positions throughout the studio.
The crew and producers for a DVD shoot such as this are dispersed into different places in the studio, in order to observe the different sections for which theyareresponsible.Thecameramen and crewmembers are out in the studio with the artist and the audience. In the studio control room, producer Paul Siegel and co-producers Greg McKean and Joe Bergamini set up on one side of the room, while engineer Sean McClintock and his assistants sit at the mixing console.
Director Rob Wallis is positioned in a video engineering room that is set up in a separate area along with all the tape machines, hard drives, and monitors required to capture the footage. The entire crew is wired together to talk in real time on headsets, and communicate with the artist and cameramen out in the studio. If a technical glitch occurs, or if the producers and director don’t like something they are seeing on camera, the action can be stopped immediately.
After a long first day, the second day was devoted to filming Keith performing with Wayne Krantz and Tim Lefebvre, in the trio that has been astounding audiences in New York City for over ten years. After a brief sound-check they launched into an intense set, stopping between songs to answer questions from the audience and explaining their approach to the complex music that they play. The audience was able to ask questions not only of Keith, but also of Wayne and Tim. Being an audience member at a Hudson shoot is like attending an all-day drum clinic. Being involved in the shoot, as an artist, is also an interesting experience, according to Tim Lefebvre: “We rehearsed a bit so that we would sound tight and have the WK3 vibe we have when we play together. It was interesting to set up basically how we do in a club and record it professionally through a Neve board. It sounded really good. I was amazed at the level of professionalism, and the Hudson team did a great job.”
We asked Keith for some of his thoughts on the process of filming the DVD… “First, I would like to say how cool it is to be involved with the best company out there doing this, Hudson Music. They have set the bar in the instructional video world, so I had comfort in that, but also pressure to make sure I had my ideas and approach together as much as possible. I have never been completely comfortable in front of cameras, but this shoot was more comfortable than I expected because everything was shot in front of a small audience, who helped me tremendously by having great energy and great questions, as well as just rooting me on and helping my comfort level, whether they were aware of that or not.
Also, I never had to look right into a camera to speak. I spoke to the audience while the camera filmed that interaction. It took a good portion of the first day to get a flow happening and to get used to having so many people around in the room, and with the little voices in my head saying, ‘Come on Keith, get into your zone, man! You’re making a recording that will possibly be around for a very long time. Get it together!’ But eventually, after warming up, playing, and getting more and more comfortable with the sound, lighting and process, things got much more natural and fun. I am pleased with what we eventually got. I think there’s a lot of material that will be appealing to all players, not just drummers, and will be interesting and instructional to players on all levels, and for many different reasons. That was my personal goal going into this, and I think we nailed it!”
Guitarist Wayne Krantz had this to say about the DVD: “In the case of Keith’s video, we had an inspiring time making it, and I felt proud to be able to take part with such fantastic musicians, production and crew. It felt really good as it went down, and hopefully that will translate to anyone who cares to see it, as will the fact that Keith Carlock is one of a kind, and that we’re fortunate to have such a sincere, soulful mega-musician around who is willing to share his process so openly.”
It’s a Wrap
Now that all of the footage has been shot, the process is actually only halfway over. At this point, editing, mixing, further post-production, transcription, package design, and other steps must take place to finish the product. Drummers can not only look forward to this Hudson DVD but features that will make the DVD even more educational: a PDF e-book containing transcriptions and examples played by Keith will be included on the DVD, bonus web lessons will be available for download at Hudson Digital, and Hudson Music’s TIP (Teacher Integration Program) will create a teacher’s guide for the DVD that will be available to all TIP members.
Hudson been incorporating these features into all of its latest projects to try to make them as useful as possible for all drummers and drum teachers.
The Hudson Music DVD Keith Carlock: The Big Picture is now available. Joe Bergamini is the Senior Drum Editor for Hudson Music and an active pro drummer in the New York City area.
Sample e-Book Lessons
The new Hudson Music release, Keith Carlock: The Big Picture, contains a 29- page PDF e-book containing detailed transcriptions from many of the concepts demonstrated by Keith on the DVD. The samples of notation that follow is taken directly from the book.
It contains the following:
‘The Fez’, ‘Kid Charlemagne’, ‘Josie’: Transcriptions of demonstrations given by Keith on the DVD, showing his interpretation of the grooves on these classic Steely Dan tracks.
‘Riff’: the main groove from this track played by Keith on the DVD, performed live with the WK3.
Fills: these transcriptions show different ways Keith orchestrates and applies a favourite sticking of his. This sticking can clearly be seen in the fourth measure of example 33. It contains two foot strokes, two single-handed accents, and a series of doubles. On the DVD, Keith demonstrates various ways that he applies this concept. These demonstrations include 4/4 and 6/8 time, as well as different phrasings of the fill that start on various counts of the measure.
All of this material and much more is played and explained in great detail on the Keith Carlock: The Big Picture DVD.