Mentors

Changing of the Guard...

In my fourteen (!) years teaching and lecturing at RMIT University’s Sound Production program in Audio Engineering I have had the pleasure to meet many wonderful people. But the time comes when creative choices begin to outweigh the financial decisions made prior to meet the needs of parenting and raising two children. In 2020 there will be a Changing of the Guard so to speak as I reduce my teaching tenure to a few days per week allowing more time for making records and playing jazz. Academic life has regrettably supported a focus on narrower and narrower aspects that underly our creativity, so I now yearn to address this imbalance. Over the next year my graduate from many years ago and now colleague, Mark Kelson will be gradually prepared to take over the duties I shall step away from. This gives me great pleasure to know the program I have developed with a wonderful team of others will remain in hands that are inspired and engaged in the art of engineering… whilst I again focus upon actual creativity. I need to acknowledge and pay utmost respect to my fellow team members at RMIT who have been absolute stalwarts in the success of this program: Michael “Smasha” Pollard, Timothy Johnston, John Phillips and Paul Thomas. Previous program managers Jen Anderson and Bruce Jacques were also instrumental in both developing this program but importantly assembling this particular team of awarded engineers and creators; all of whom are still fully engaged outside of their teaching roles. Thank you x

Mark Kelson and I in Studio One, featuring the 1st NEVE Genesys console in AUST.

Mark Kelson and I in Studio One, featuring the 1st NEVE Genesys console in AUST.

Clifford Brown - Continuously Humbled

I grew up through my 20’s idolising the great jazz trumpeters. None more so than Clifford Brown. He died in a car accident at only 25 yet left an incredible legacy of recordings, through which I am still working. Revisiting some transcriptions of his solos today and the humility is once again profound; 1953 until his death a few years later he was on fire! If I get to play even a portion of the voice leading, rhythmic interest and harmonic outlines that Clifford did then I’ll be very grateful. Until then, the humility continues… Thank you Clifford x

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History & Humility

A request to study our human history; properly. Any religion, educational guru or nation who considers itself the omnipotent source of knowledge is an imagined construct. All morals, art, spirituality and creativity are embedded in our species’ DNA and began in Africa 100,000 years ago

I am asking everyone who reads my Blog to adjust their attitudes to others who may share a different belief, imagined construct or cultural perspective. 

Humility is grossly undervalued.

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Why We Teach...

Today marks the beginning of another year in teaching Audio Engineering and it's related sub-fields. This is the part I love; disseminating as much of my knowledge that I can whilst embracing everything I am still yet to learn. So teaching is always a two-way street; I learn from my students who learn from me.

I began teaching in this field part-time in 2003, went full-time in 2006 and was finally offered tenure in 2007, which meant I wasn't effectively "unemployed" from New Year's Eve 'til New Year's Day. So over a decade now and the actual teaching element is still as exciting for me as ever. I am very grateful to have such a fulfilling job that serves to feed my children and I but above all that I am blessed that my students actually enjoy my teaching.

Lecture/Class #1 for 2018 to my new cohort of 1st years and one particular student states at the end of the two hours "thank you - you're a fantastic teacher - the best I've ever had."

Phükk! Thank you. Let the journey for me continue whilst for others the journey has only just begun...

Back at the VCA

It has been 30 years since I graduated from the VCA, in the inaugural stream of what is now referred to as Improvisation; back then we just called it JAZZ. Today I looked through the newly commissioned studio at the School of Music, delighted to find it has been dubbed the Brian Brown Studio. Brian was both founder, creator and head of the Jazz program. His legacy to the national and international music scene. We lost Brian not that long ago but he will always remain in my fondest memories - a true inspiration and mentor. Tomorrow I'll be recording a short-film score for Blood Trust in this studio and no doubt Brian will pop in for a 'visit.'

Bundle of Joy

Tonight saw the launch of Robbie Bundle's album; International Ark.

Myself and a list of wonderful musicians joined in celebrating this long awaited release, from one of the country's most sensitive indigenous artists. And as the evening wound down I couldn't help but think of the late Paul Hester, with one of my favourite tracks from the album dedicated to him; 'On the Corner.'

Paul Hester was a mentor for Robbie Bundle many years ago in a program focused on developing and supporting our indigenous song-writers. Of all the people who were present tonight there would always be one who just couldn't get there - in memory of Paul Hester. Congratulations Robbie. I know 'Uncle' would have been most proud. As was I brother. As was I.

"the Venue"

Earls Court, the Venue, early 1980s was an iconic performance venue for both local and international bands run by the supportive Joseph Gualtieri. During this decade he catered for some of the best live shows I've ever seen, let alone performed in. Downstairs was one of the best sounding live rooms in Melbourne. Joe was instrumental in the growth of Melbourne's reggae and roots scene, giving many new bands their first gigs. It was a wonderful surprise to meet up with Joe at Randy Borquaye's birthday jam, having not seen him since the Venue closed down and was demolished to make way for the Novatel on the upper Esplanade in St Kilda. Next door was "Bananas," another iconic live venue for Melbourne's music during the 70's and 80's. Venue owners are so important in the development of any music scene so here's a big thanx to Joe for all his support.

Sunday Spiritual with the Bishop

The now honourable Bishop Al Green held service this morning at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, with his fellow preachers, choir and band. A moderately sized congregation gathered around 11:30 for what was to be the most significant spiritual and musical event of my entire trip here. Ever wondered where the Soul, Gospel, Blues & Jazz spirit rises from? Then attend a service with Al Green and everything will be revealed. A sincerely moving, awakening event is what I was gifted. A band that cooked like a Memphis BBQ and a choir who's voices literally brought me to tears. I would like to thank everyone present at the service for sharing their spirit and love in what has to be the pinnacle experience during my stay in Memphis. Hallelujah indeed, I have been blessed!

STAX LIVES

Whilst the STAX record label may have closed the spirit of this music lives on each and every day here in Memphis. The bands, the duos, the soloists; all utterly amazing. Sure there are some "better" than others, but this summit of so many like-minded artists is truly an enigma. One which I am sincerely honoured to be a part of. So Stevie Paige and I did not make the cut for the finals here but I am far from disappointed. The calibre of those that did is incredible. The city, the people, the new friends I've been able to make all contribute to a wonderful experience. One I shall retain forever more, as I am sure it is for each and every one of the artists and audience members alike.

Johnny Cash in Memphis

Awoken this morning to another unusually sunny day for this time of year in Memphis. Looking forward to this evening's set, hoping it goes as well as last night. Took a little snap of this signature tiled into the floor of Silky Sullivan's bar, our venue for the 1st & 2nd gigs here. Reminds me that I am preceded here by many far better artists and that as such the learning never stops. The camaraderie here is quite beautiful, with everyone lifting one another to hopefully new heights - a clear indication of the essence of this festival ... Music! Ok, back to some "domestos" for this traveller; time to wash my socks and undies! (American translation: SOX & JOX)

Emerick & Lush at Integrate

I was saving this part 'til last. Friend, colleague and fellow engineer Michael Pollard and yours truly got to sit in a seminar with the original engineer (Geoff Emerick) and tape op' (Richard Lush) for the Beatles' records at EMI London. Wow. Most of all an insight into the art form that is audio engineering, technical yet creative. Emerick in particular was often pushing boundaries, scolded by superiors at EMI for 'mistreating' equipment and harassed by the Beatles to constantly re-invent the wheel of sound capture during these famous years. At one point I spontaneously began to applaud as Lush stated "not once did we ever go back to source reels" when bouncing down their limited number of recording tracks to another 4 track recorder - truly wonderful.

Interestingly enough the most often used tools were microphone choice and position, dynamics and very limited eq. Gain structure also played an important role in sculpting the final sounds now heard around the world for decades. Inspirational.

Mentors at Integrate (Sydney)

We embrace a technical art form and those who come down the same path before us always have so much to offer. I am blessed with many such Mentors and had the immense pleasure to catch up with two significant ones this week in Sydney during the Integrate seminar.
Mick Wordley from Mixmasters in Adelaide and David Briggs from here in Melbourne. Thank you gentlemen for all your generosity and guidance. Michael Letho is another I am indebted to for his wonderful mentorship. These people come into our lives and are not obliged to offer their knowledge - they do so by choice. A summation of their mutual love for this art and a respect for all those who tread this path before us. Blessed am I to continue such a legacy.