Acoustic, Instumental, Post Be-Bop Jazz
Saxophone, Piano, Bass, Drums
"Rahsaan" Roland Kirk,
Hank, Thad, and Elvin Jones,
None, that I know of. However, on individual instruments,
you can hear echos of various influences.
Why I Overdub
I love music, both listening and playing.
Over the years, as I listen to music, or
when I play with other musicians, no matter
how wonderful they may be, I often think to myself
that's not the way I would do it.
By overdubbing, I can create music exactly the way that I want it.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the music which
some call jazz is the interaction between the musicians.
In overdubbing, there can be no interaction,
only action and reaction, which is in no way the same thing.
Creating the illusion of interaction is the greatest challenge of overdubbing.
Many people have asked me which instrument I do first, which second, etc.
Over the years, I have tried just about every possible combination of
orders of instruments, both with and without a metronome.
For most of the tunes on
my new CD,
there is no metronome and
the order of recording is: drums, piano, bass, sax.
The exception is Timeless (track 12), which was done
with a metronome and a different order (bass, drums, piano, sax, I think).
How I Started and Developed My Overdubbing
In 1961, my dad got a new tape recorder with a sound-on-sound
feature. He needed it for his work. He used it once.
I found a variety of uses for it.
At the time, I was just beginning to play the sax and I played
a bit of piano.
When I discovered improvising, I recorded a very simple
blues progression on piano, which I could then practice with.
I used the sound-on-sound feature to record the sax along
with the recorded piano.
Thus began my career as an overdubbist.
In 1967, I heard the Bill Evans album, "Further Conversations
In general, I was underwhelmed. (I am not a particular fan of
Mr. Evans.) However, one part of one track, "Blue Monk",
caught my attention. On one part, he plays little more than a bass
line, while in the other part, he plays a regular two-handed piano
part. Hey, I could do this!
I recorded several tunes using a metronome and bass line for the
first part, with a two handed piano part on top of that.
I knew that I had something, but at the same time, something was
I acquired a second-hand Ampex (home model) tape deck, which
had a sound-on-sound feature.
I was very disappointed to find out that it could only
do one sound-on-sound, which was no more than my dad's
I looked over the wiring diagram, took it apart, and rewired
it so that it could do sound-on-sound in either direction
(left to right or right to left), which meant that
I could do more than two parts.
It was in the summer of 1967 that I did my first overdubs
with a "group" concept, bass line played on piano
(with metronome), piano part (two-hands), sax, and a drum
part played with a borrowed drum set.
At the time, I was thinking in terms of making demos of
some of my tunes, but in retrospect, these were not good
demos. Rather, they were a first attempt at making music
using the medium of overdubbing.
Over the next several years, this idea began to crystalize.
I used excuses to overdub. In several cases, I called the
tape a "progress report".
In 1974, I got my first multi-channel tape deck, a Dokordor 7140.
With this, I made a lot of overdubs. At first I had an electric bass
and a Fender Rhodes piano, but the concept was there.
In 1978, my wife and I moved into a loft on 36th Street, (Manhattan)
where I got a real
piano (an old Steinway upright). I also got my first acoustic
bass (a Kaye plywood, blonde bass).
The acquisition of acoustic instruments changed my approach
With the electrics, I started with the bass with a metronome
on a different track.
Then I would add piano and sax. Finally, I added the drums
on the same track I had used for the metronome. This erased
the metronome. It also meant that I could not hear the
metronome while doing the drums, but I could hear all
the other instruments.
With the acoustic bass, I needed to hear the piano to have
any hope of intonation.
So, I wanted to start with the piano, but I still needed the
metronome. (I didn't feel that my time was good enough on
drums to get by without it.)
My metronome was electric, but not electronic; that is,
it did not have an audio output, it just made a clicking
I put the metronome in a closet with a microphone and a long
cord leading back to the recorder.
This allowed me to isolate the metronome and start with the piano.
During this period, I experimented with various orders, but settled
for the most part on the order of piano, bass, drums, sax.
At some point, I realized two things.
My ability to keep time on the drums (without the aid of metronome
or other instruments) had improved to the point where I was ready
to try doing the drums first without a metronome.
Also, I realized that in almost all of my overdubs, I just about never
laid out on the drums.
Once I understood these things, I tried a couple of tracks
with the drums first and no metronome. It worked.
I was free of the metronome.
This was a big step.
My skill as an overdubbist grew.
When we bought a house in Brooklyn in 1983, I knew that I needed
better equipment (also the Dokordor was dying.)
I got a Tascam 38 eight-channel (on half-inch tape) deck in 1986,
along with a Tascam M30 mixer, DBX, some better microphones, etc.
I made a lot of overdubs on this machine.
Around 2004, I switched to digital, using a Delta Labs 1010LT input
board and my old Tascam M30 (for the mic preamps).
I have learned a lot about music through overdubbing.
In particular I have learned about musical interaction.
At first, this may seem strange, since there can be no
interaction in overdubbing.
However, there are many ways of simulating interaction.
In learning these methods, I have improved my ability
to make music with others.
I particularly want to thank the people who help me
with my various instruments.
Dr Rick (of
Village Flute & Sax) takes
wonderful care of my woodwinds.
Bill Merchant (of
Merchant Vertical Bass Company)
is entrusted with keeping my basses playing well.
Barry Greenspon (of Drummer's World)
helped me get my drum set together.
Peter Moffit helps with my piano.