June 13 (afternoon session): Billy Novick brings his woodwind magic 

With most, although not all, of my parts done, we're ready to start bringing in the rest of the guests who will be helping out with the CD.  First up, the amazing jazz woodwind player Billy Novick, well known by many for his years of collaboration with Guy Van Duser. 

I had known from the start that I wanted clarinet on "Rough and Polished Stones" and recorder or something similar on the outdoorsy "Down to the Waterfall," so when Eric suggested Billy might be available to do it (and be in my budget), I was thrilled.  We tackled "Down to the Waterfall" first, beginning with a few tracks of recorder and then a few more with a wooden penny whistle.  Both sounded lovely (although the heat and humidity of the day made it tough to keep the penny whistle, in particular, from going out of tune during the song), although in different ways.  The lower-pitched recorder had a soft coolness that seemed to fit the meaning of the words perfectly.  But the penny whistle, playing in a much higher register, added a brightness--a sort of sunlight-through-the-trees feeling--and also expanded the range of the song, floating above the vocal and guitar parts.  At the moment, I would say Eric are leaning towards the penny whistle, but that may yet change.  Once we've figured out best takes, I may run one of each by you for comment!

"Rough and Polished Stones" came next and went much faster.  The clarinet didn't have the same intonation problems and Billy very quickly figured out exactly what the song needed.  Each of the three or four takes got progressively better and, by the end, we had a take that struck Eric and me both as basically perfect.  A rough mix of this fantastic take is below.  All in all, a great couple of hours in the studio with a wonderful musician (and true gentleman).  A great start to this phase of the recording process!