The Ses­sion Pro­fes­sion

Ja­son Sid­well quizzed a group of leg­endary stu­dio gui­tarists about their favourite stu­dio dates, the mu­si­cal ‘tools’ re­quired to be a ses­sion player, the gear needed and more. Their an­swers are fas­ci­nat­ing as at times sur­pris­ing!

Guitar Techniques - - Q & A -

What are your favourite mu­si­cal styles to play?

Steve L: I love all kinds of mu­sic and have been asked to play most types of pop­u­lar mu­sic at one point or an­other. I am a rock guy with some knowl­edge of the­ory and play­ing ‘out­side the box’ but train­ing for ses­sions, one has to be ready for any­thing. At least it USED to be that way when I was do­ing ses­sions 25 years ago.

Louis: I’ve al­way’s en­joyed ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent styles. First I was a Chet Atkins clone, I learned so much from him in my early days. His clean, pure tone, pre­ci­sion and his style re­ally got my right hand fin­gers work­ing which came in handy later for fin­ger­style ses­sion work. But jazz, rock, blues, R&B, fu­sion, coun­try... when I go into the stu­dio and get a gui­tar in my hands I run through it all.

Jay: When I pick up a gui­tar, I al­ways start by play­ing jazz, so need­less to say I love play­ing jazz. BUT dur­ing my ses­sion work as a first call stu­dio gui­tarist, ob­vi­ously, it was rare to play jazz. Fur­ther, I played on many coun­try ses­sions play­ing steel gui­tar type fills. To the ex­treme, I played on polka ses­sions! As a stu­dio gui­tarist, any style may be needed at any time. For ex­am­ple, I played on pre-recorded stuff for the Ice Fol­lies.

Do­minic: Im­pos­si­ble to an­swer be­cause I like most styles from elec­tric rock­ing to moody acous­tic. I just like play­ing the right thing for the song, hope­fully en­hanc­ing it.

Den­nis C: I have my own style which is soul, jazz, funk, Mo­town.

Carl: Coun­try mu­sic, blues and rock are right in my wheel­house, but I’ve played on many jazz al­bums, too. Those ses­sions seem to be looser than the typ­i­cal pop ses­sions and gen­er­ally in­volve track­ing dates with real mu­si­cians in­stead of com­put­ers.

Chris: I’m a roots guy re­ally, so rock­a­billy, Mo­town, tax, etc; and on the jazz side I re­ally like the or­gan and gui­tar trios like Jimmy Smith and Kenny Bur­rell, and Jack McDuff and Grant Green. A lit­tle known gui­tarist who played with Jimmy Smith was Thor­nel Shwartz whose play­ing I love. He’s on a live Jimmy Smith record called Back At The Chicken Shack - check him out.

Den­nis B: I’d have to say jazz, be­cause I’m a jazz mu­si­cian and jazz gui­tarist. Any style that’s soul­ful, I en­joy. As a stu­dio mu­si­cian, you have to play any style, but I’d have to say jazz is my favourite.

Reg­gie: My favourite is R&B. But I also en­joyed play­ing on what is now called out­law coun­try. I never changed my style, even when I moved to Nashville from Mem­phis, but it seemed to work on ev­ery­thing I played on.

What song or piece of mu­sic ranks as one of your most favourite ses­sion ex­pe­ri­ences?

Steve: Man, there are SO many great ones with leg­endary artists and pro­duc­ers and en­gi­neers. I am writ­ing a book and it will be out 2018 where I re­ally tell sto­ries in de­tail. I have been most for­tu­nate in my life to have been given th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Louis: I would say Boz Sk­aggs’ Low­down be­cause Boz was giv­ing us a great guide vo­cal and we had Jeff Por­caro, Dave Hun­gate and David Paich kick­ing it in the rhythm sec­tion. A close sec­ond would be The Jackson 5, I Want You Back, be­cause that was my first Mo­town ses­sion and I was a big fan of Mo­town records.

Jay: The solo I played on the Steely Dan song Peg, on the Aja al­bum stands out, as the solo is not typ­i­cal. I have played other so­los that I feel are qual­ity and most of those are on al­bums which I pro­duced or was the co-artist or artist.

Do­minic: My most mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence is the one that opened the door for me: Phil Collins’ An­other Day In Par­adise from the But Se­ri­ously al­bum. I played on six tracks. It was my first high-pro­file ses­sion and I had to de­liver.

Den­nis C: My two favourite ses­sion ex­pe­ri­ences were record­ing Cloud Nine with The Temp­ta­tions and record­ing my record Scor­pio with mem­bers of Mo­town’s band The Funk Brothers.

Carl: Record­ing the movie sound­track for Rata­touille with a 109-piece or­ches­tra was fun be­cause I was a prin­ci­ple soloist with all those guys back­ing me up. If I can count my own records, trad­ing so­los live in the stu­dio with Joe Bona­massa was pretty ex­cit­ing on the Trad­ing 8s al­bum. It was for a song called High­way 27.

Chris: I think War Of The Worlds, or some of the songs I’ve done with Bryan Ferry. And the Harry Nils­son stuff too.

Den­nis B: The mu­sic from the 1993 movie, Blood In, Blood Out (aka Bound By Honor) was a ses­sion with com­poser/con­duc­tor, Bill Conti. There were two fea­tured in­stru­ments with trum­pet, played by Rick Babtist, and yours truly, Den­nis Budimir, played clas­si­cal

coun­Try mu­Sic, blueS and rock are all righT in my wheel­houSe buT i’ve Played on many jazz al­bumS, Too Carl Ver­heyen

Carl plays one of his lovely vin­tage Strats

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