Recording the Dennis Lee Project was a dream come true compared to the Jive Kings. I was always frustrated with the tunes on the Jive Kings records that I had learned on the spot, then recorded, then played live and reaaaally got to know the tune and make a much better bass line.
With the Dennis Lee Project, Mike Ross, Kirk White, and I rehearsed for a couple months beforehand. Mike had the tunes all written, we had charts, we rehearsed each tune, and figured out the core of the tune's parts and then when we went to record it was just refine and be even more creative mode.
Steve Bellamy as a producer was great to work with - he knew the tunes well but let Mike unleash his vision from what I could tell. He was excited by individual parts we were recording made everyone feel at ease.
I even got to offer a few things here and there that made their way onto the recording. One being, Mike couldn't decide how to end "The Question"... he said.. you figure it out. It's a medium-up swing tune with a bop-like melody so with that in mind I wrote that weird soli line with a oddesquely typical bluesy ending. I was nervous as hell presenting it to Mike ..but he liked it and we rehearsed it a few times and nailed it.
Another cool thing was "The Faithful Donut" ... the day we recorded that Mike says .. "so I want to start this with an upright bass improv line... make it up..don't care..just do something... ".
Whoa.. I hadn't done this before..not for recording...improv live is one thing but.. to cut it on a record... with much bravado I said..."surrrre no problem"... Steve said GO... and I went ...blaaaalallafffffpttt fottpppt ..
it was terrible. we all laughed... breathed the stress out of me and then a couple passes later I came up with something somewhat interesting. In order to give it a contrast from the main line of the tune in DMajor I started with an F#aug chord and winded around down to the main groove of the tune.
Another factoidily fact... I only owned my fretless jazz at this point and it just wasn't cutting the mustard for the sound we needed. Steve said "Do you have a Pbass?" ... nope. So .. upon Perry's suggestion I contacted Roger Jabbour and said "hey...mind if I borrow your electric bass to record??" ...assuming he was going to tell me to get lost ( it's a beaut of an instrument... "I" wouldn't want to lend it out to some former student! ). Anyway he said sure and thank God...the tone is great. I esp love hearing it in Good Morning groove.
Oh...and Lonesome Was a Pot of Gold... that was the first time I really experienced the joy of space and sustain while playing a song.