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Hot! Episode #2

Episode #2

Recording Date: August 8, 2002
Location: Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia

Musicians:
Bela Fleck – Banjo
Pat Martino – Guitar
Gerald Veasley – Bass
Rick Braun – Trumpet
Rayford Griffin – Drums

Songs:
Oleo                                         BUY
Cold Duck Time                       BUY
Blues in Seven                         BUY

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I have been a longtime fan of banjo master Bela Fleck. When I learned that he would be passing through Philly again, I promised myself I would do all I could to try and build a Studio Jams session around him. I have also wanted to find a way to somehow work with Philly-based jazz guitar master Pat Martino. I honestly can’t remember who I contacted first for this session, but both of these guys were quick to say yes to my invite – especially because of the opportunity to work with one another.

Pat Martino

After locking the two of them in, I quickly included my good friend bassist Gerald Veasley. I knew that Gerald and Pat knew each other and had worked together before, so that provided me with a little sense of comfort that things would collectively gel. (While I do love the concept of seeing complete strangers create music together, it does help when you know that there is at least one connection among them – however strong it may be.)

Next, it just so happened that jazz trumpeter Rick Braun was performing in town that same night, so I quickly jumped on that opportunity as well. He too was quick to say yes. I mentioned to his co-manager at that time, Ron Moss, that I had yet to secure a drummer for the session.

Rick Braun

Ron suggested I ask Rayford Griffin, the drummer who was part of Rick’s touring band. I welcomed that idea and Ron made the invite to him on my behalf. Looking back on it, Ron’s suggestion has proved to be invaluable. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with Rayford on numerous occasions and he has become truly one of my favorite musicians. Thank you again, Ron!

So here was my “band” that day…Pat Martino on guitar, Bela Fleck on banjo, Gerald Veasley on bass, Rick Braun on trumpet and Rayford Griffin on drums.

One moment I vividly remember is listening to Bela and Pat meeting and getting to know each other in the studio before we started. It turns out that Bela has been a fan of Pat for a long, long time. He shared a great story about how he clearly remembers a very special night of going to see Pat perform in a NYC club when he was young (and underage!).

I also remember how gracious Rayford was that day. The very first time I met him was when he walked through the doors of the studio. In my attempt to save both time and effort, I had made arrangements to use the studio’s drum kit – and made sure it was set-up and ready to go for Rayford the moment he arrived. And it was. Rayford arrived, tweaked it a little to his liking, played it and graciously left when the session was over.

Rayford Griffin

Looking back, I realize the drum kit that day was little more than a set of toy drums for him, as he is accustomed to using a much more complete and versatile kit when he plays. But Rayford never once complained or showed any disappointment. He simply took it in stride and handled it like the true professional he is. But I learned from this experience, and now look to bring in drum kits that fit the individual specs of particular drummers for each of our sessions. I laugh about it to this day – him performing with some legendary jazz masters, on a drum kit that could’ve come from Toys ‘R Us!

Back to the session…

Bela Fleck


Pat started things off by suggesting they work through the Sonny Rollins classic, Oleo. He then led the group through an interesting 15-20 minute rehearsal before we recorded 2 takes of the tune…each one with nice solo passages from Pat, Bela and Rick. Next, Rick suggested Eddie Harris’ Cold Duck Time, which came together quite easily for everyone. Again, there was another great round of solos.

To wrap things up, Bela suggested they simply create something fresh and new on the spot…perhaps something with an unusual time signature. He came up with a figure that all of the others took in and built upon. It is always so interesting for me to see musicians build something totally from scratch. After a short rehearsal, we cut a track we simply called Blues in Seven in 1 take.

It was another awe-inspiring session. Having the opportunity to work with all of these cats was a real treat for me – a complete joyride from start to finish. A great day indeed.

– Tom Emmi / Producer


“I absolutely LOVE this program! It’s great to see our heroes close up and realize that they are people too…with wrinkles, bad hair, nervousness, etc.”

— N.C.