Monday, 5 January 2015

Wood Green Brass

We've just returned home after an exhausting twelve-hour day in the recording studio, which was made considerably more gruelling by the fact that I barely slept a wink last night. What's that all about? You know you have to be up at 8am, so your body tells you to stay alert at all costs. My nose was running like a tap as well. I thought it was a cold coming on, but it turns out it was some kind of allergic reaction to something because one Piriton in the morning made me as right as rain.

Today's session was a slightly peculiar mixture of a brass septet and timpani drums! The timps were in a separate booth, but from lunch time both groups performed at the same time. It was all rather surreal.

Every time I think we might be on for a relatively easy session I'm proved entirely wrong! Trying to get seven brass players to play together in perfect tune is no mean feat. Brass instruments, with their peculiar bells, are notoriously hard to tune. Even a perfectly in tune instrument might have the odd note which plays a little sharp or flat!

The players were absolutely brilliant, however, and bantered like pros between the takes. I'm quite convinced that there's a gene which gives brass players the ability to do laddish banter. That, or they learn it at college whilst the 'cellists are doing classes in du Pre hair-flicking. They also coped rather manfully when I had a mini melt-down in the afternoon... although the less said about that the better!

Our principle trumpeter, the remarkable Zak, did some extraordinary playing in the opening number, and every member of the ensemble had a moment when they shone very brightly. I was particularly pleased with young Josef, who is singing the role of Tom on the recording, but stepped in to play euphonium on the recording when one of the trombonists from the original band couldn't make today's session. He slotted into the ensemble brilliantly. I guess there are very few actors who can claim to have accompanied themselves on an original cast album!

Today's studio was in Wood Green, literally just around the corner from my old drama school, Mountview. It's situated in an incredibly grotty part of town, nestling in a sort of industrial wasteland between Alexandra Palace park and the infamous and ghastly Shopping City, but as we wandered off to Morrison's for lunch, it struck me that I'm actually rather fond of the area. Yes, it's full of very odd people and corners heaped with piles of drifting rubbish flapping against angry metal fences, but it's also a place which makes me feel curiously optimistic. It was only today that it stuck me this is due to my having been to drama school in the area. This was my first experience of London; a place where I felt on top of the world. Everyone feels invincible at drama school. Ours was the year group who were all destined to win Oscars (trade mark). Some other poor group of drama school-leavers would be part of the horrific 90 percent of trained actors who would never act professionally.

Livingstone is a very wonderful studio, which holds special memories for us both because it's where we did many of the studio sessions for our wedding. I guess that might also explain today's happiness. That, and a huge sense of excitement for the album we're recording.

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