Monday, April 26, 2010

"i am leith stevens!"

ok, awkward try at the "i am spartacus" reference... but here's the reference point...

for four years and five mos., i have been putting together a union with the composers/lyricists... and teamsters local 399.

say it with me:

"composers... lyricists... teamsters."

"Composers are the only creative group in the radio, television, motion picture, recording and other entertainment fields without the protection and guidance of a guild. All other creative groups in these fields, without exception, enjoy the right of collective bargaining in their relations with employers. This standing separately, rather than together as a guild, is one of the primary reasons why fees for composition (as separate from orchestration or arranging) have practically disappeared in radio. Further, the practice of no fee for composition is being carried into television in a frightening percentage of cases. This is only one of many abuses common in these fields, and the composer without an organization to back him up can only accept the situation."

this was the opening paragraph of a five-page paper declaring the need for a composers' guild—drafted in November 1953 and read at the meeting—could just as easily have been written today... and now...

now... we are getting close.

my friends steve dayan, alf clausen, bruce broughton and jim dipasquale and i negotiated a potentially game changing agreement with the wga... ratified march 2, 2010- UNANIMOUSLY- by the wga exec. board... and which you can read about here or here.

it is, in some pre-hindsight... awesome.

with continued diligence, we will have started the first new creative union in hollywood in more than 50 years (click here for some history). for more on the union, go here.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

our latest- and i think much better- trailer for "amazing grace."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monk's advice (as transcribed from Steve Lacy)...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Larry Gelbart.

Full Stop.

Upon hearing that I wanted to write (I was 12 at the time)... Larry Gelbart walked the eleven blocks from his house to my house and left my mother with four or five scripts and a year's worth of outlines of "M*A*S*H" (he wrote the first three years... EVERY SHOW... 26 episodes a year) for me to check out so I could see how he did it.

34 years later I still have no idea how he did it.

I am proud of the way the last sentence is the blow for the above paragraph because... I THINK Larry would have liked it. I KNOW he would have told me he liked it... and am left to wonder how he would have improved upon it (because he would have).

Growing up in Beverly Hills in the early 1970's and going to the "Alpine Open" (a tennis tournament held at the Gelbart house) was, even when I was still in single digits, impressionable.

Mel Brooks and later Carl Reiner playing doubles versus the championship team of my Mother and Hank Greenberg (my father, I believe, lost early with, I believe Anne Bancroft... my family knows how to pick partners)... the day would wind into dinner where I sat opposite Milton Berle and Sid Caeser to discuss (again, I was all of 9) our mutual love of baseball (I remember Uncle Miltie's love of Stan Musial) and in between near the dessert table was Red Buttons and Ian La Frenais... this was truly a hothouse of comedy/show business and every one of the titans was comfortable and vital as they were in the house of the guy who was, hands down, the KING (Larry was in the middle of his marathon M*A*S*H run).
The magic for me is that Larry didn't just bring the funny (that was easy for him- it just was)... but he also brought this unfliching humanity.

Larry was so... LARRY... and Larry being Larry... these giants could relax and not be "on" because (as I witnessed once with Mel Brooks), if the guys wanted to try to turn it "on"... they weren't going to go at it with Larry- he was way too... Larry.

I am glad my friend Larry lived in such a great age of show business- for him... and for me! because through his remarkable interactions... I thought/hoped that maybe some of that fairy dust would rub off... and if it didn't, well... I still wanted the stories.

There was nary a show business titan from the '40s to the present (SIX DECADES) that Larry did not know and which he didn't have a personal and revealing story about... Bob Hope, USO trips... check... end of the Golden Age of radio... check... Hollywood blacklists... check... moving to London in the sixties... check... Italy in the late 60s... check... Sammy Davis, Jr./Will Maston trio at Ciro's...check... the Beatles in swinging London and hanging out in discos with Paul McCartney (in Macca's autobigraphy he refers to Larry as "Larry Geldof"- Larry liked that)... oh, yes, and check... um, "Your Show of Shows"/Sid/Woody/Mel/Mel/Carl et al... check... Stanley Kubrick... yessir... Robert Bolt... check... Hal Prince/Sondheim... check and mate (Larry would have liked THAT!)... Oscar... check... Tony... check... I got to hear Larry do his vicious impression of Dustin Hoffman (Rebecca does it better than Larry... and Larry would have LOVED that)... Johnny Mandel... check... Zero Mostel... check... and PAT MARSHALL folks... vavavaCHECK... and mate!

Larry lived in a magical time where talent had weight and value... it could be measured and treasured and rewarded for the content of character and it's ability to express and reveal and probe and be poetic and blah blah blah BUT...

it's true! And our loving Larry LIVED a life inside these metrics to the veryvery end, never having to ever "reinvent" Larry Gelbart.

And this was all done in a very... unassuming, assuming way that knew but didn't brag, and even when his sentence would dissect (or sometimes vivisect)... he left something to the imagination.
When Larry spoke... we all listened. We didn't want to miss anything.

Years later (five after my last personal time reference), when I needed a recommendation to get into college... Larry wrote that letter.

29 years later... I am angry I didn't apply to Harvard (no doubt Larry's letter would have gotten me in).

Larry and Pat vavavaCHECKPLEASE's daughter Becky and I migrated to Northwestern together and Larry and Pat became my alternate parents (living eleven blocks away, it turns out, didn't offer the intimacy that trips to Willmette's Walker Bros. Pancake House would). And lucky me... really, really lucky... my new letter writing confidante became Larry.

We wrote often and regularly and in those days before email and ichat, the letters from Larry were some of the happiest and funniest and most loving I have ever gotten from anyone not in a skirt (Larry.... LINE?!... it's the best I can do as I write through tears.)

Years later (insert: calendar flipping... clock winding forward maniacally), when my Pop passed, Larry wrote another in a series of his brilliant eulogies (seriously, we should put together a book of his eulogies...)... it made us feel lucky to have known my Pop... it lifted us up... it made us laugh... it reminded us of the life and experiences we were lucky to have.

Years after that, more calendar dates flipped... I called Larry after Rebecca and I got engaged... and asked, knowing he might want to branch out from the eulogy circuit, if he had ever... hint... hint... performed a wedding?


Rabbi Larry was up to the job.

Trust me. He was the best Rebbe you ever saw.

Other than all of the above, Larry Gelbart had no affect on my life.

A friend sent me an email today expressing his condolences... I wrote back:

not much to say that he couldn't have said better..."

We love you Larry.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Solar-Reserve film/music...
Me and my friend Mike Weiss recently produced an industrial film for Solar Reserve. The film came out swell (v.o. by Jon Gries). I hired myself to write the music... and we had 50 of our favorite people in to Capitol Studios to perform the score... it's amazing how you can afford an orchestra IF (ahem, producers out there) you START by thinking of how important music is for the piece.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why don't I blog as much...

I am very busy giving piano lessons.

What's up?

Well, besides the above... too much.

Yours truly here at Al's Records and Tapes is getting into the Al's Records and Tapes... AND Film and TV bidness.

In the spirit of not jinxing anything...

I am not gonna jinx anything.

But... Al's Records and Tapes is the proud owner of one AMAZING movie now... and we hope to get it ON OUR WAY asap!

here's a teaser:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's been too long.
I know.
I spend too much time writing about basketball, writing about music, teaching at UCLA ... and producing and FINISHING :that noise and tra la la.

sure, I be bloggin'... but not here.
That stops now!

For everyone's listening pleasure, Al's Records and Tapes proudly presents our latest and greatest:
:That Noise


Tra La La
Go check the sites- we are very proud of them.
Mike Jerugim did the web design. He's the best.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy holidays to all.

I wanted to share my friend Stan Somers' genius. Stan and I are working together on an animated musical of a day in the life of Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones (see below)- and you might know that Stan did the animation for "Riding Giants"- the Stacy Peralta big wave riding movie. There was some animation of King Kamehameha (which reminds me of Peter Boyle's roll as Chief Oman in "Honeymoon in Vegas"- we will all miss Peter Boyle)...

anyways, Stan- who also animated Ariel for "The Little Mermaid" has done a marvelous mural in Hawthorne and you can see part of it here:

and here:

and you can see more of Stan's artwork... if you click on this sentence!.

Also, as long as the gifts season is upon us, here is my gift from Rebecca- "Recording The Beatles" by my pal Brian Kehew.

The book is AMAZING- it includes descriptions, interviiews, pictures, drawings... EVERYTHING about how the Beatles made their records and I am very happy for Brian's accomplishment.

Lastly, here's a picture of Chanukah eve from our backyard (that's Steve Frothingham and Yasco) courtesy of the eye of Mike Jerugim. Apropos of nothing- except I like it. Happy happy,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Time flies...
A whole summer has come and gone...
and we almost have two records to show for it.

Al's Records and Tapes is back in bidness after taking the year off to hang with the comedians... and so bring on the really crazy people... the recording artists!

Mike J. and I have been working hard to finish up these two records- and they are almost in focus...

Jonathan Burkes- also known affectionately as Boojie, is giving us the goods.
Boojie, Mike and I are cooking up something we are very proud of... something original and badass and well... hard to describe.
And we are finishing up Antonia Romeo's first all girlie girl girlie super neato bodeato record which is called "Just Fina"- and you can see Antonia and Fina here...
and Antonia and Mike here...

Antonia's music is special... and we are really proud to be a part of it because it is so... very much Antonia. It isn't music where you wonder what she is like- her music is what she's like and Mike and I are convinced you will like it.
In the next couple weeks, we will have her site and some samples up...
I am writing this to catch up- Mike reminds me that I have been behind on the blogging...
so now to the stuff that cracks me up- the newest recording artists...
those in The Recording Club! So you know- these kids are our next top models... oops, I'm watching too much tv. But they are hilarious and this year's version of The Recording Club is a step forward. This year, our kids are more on top of it and more determined to finish songs. The past three years has seen the Jack Elliott Music Project give away over $100,000 worth of technology and training.
year, through a generous grant from The Johnny Mercer Foundation, more kids will be able to expand their repertoire through digital recording and exposure to computers. And this year, from a musical standpoint, the kids are using the technology AND real instruments like never before to create recordings that will shock and amaze. This is really exciting- it isn't just beats and boasts... this is taking it to another level. Go watch video of last week- think about a young Eddie Hazell on guitar... and soon... the Recording Club will have it's first mix tape up on iTunes... with the benefits going toward buying more computers and getting kids to college.

and here is Alex and his gals... as they start the process of deliberating how to share one set of headphones for four people... while Patrick helps Brit get it right. More soon...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Naked Trucker Session for Bob…

The end of the music for “Let's Go To Prison” was great.

Months ago, Bob, Dave Koechner and I got together to write the main title to be performed by the Naked Trucker and Gerald Tibbins - better known as T-Bones (who looks a great deal like Dave). So then we waited... and waited... and finally we got the ok from hq and we had to really do it.

Then the genius of Dave Allen stepped in to sharpen some stuff. Then the band came in... and shoot, before you know it, it's a hoe-down.

So we assembled at Capitol Studios

(that's Jalinda, who works with Andy Paley with Dave Allen) and we assembled the Trucker, T-Bones...

and along came the Dick-Around Gang, manned by Andy Paley on drums, JP Fitting on bass,
TC Tommy Chan on guitar
and lastly... we had a very special guest to top it off…

The legendary Tommy Morgan on the bass harmonica.

And as always, we had Hank Cicalo manning the board - so we new it was gonna be a stone gas.

And it was. The end of the music for the movie lets me know we are getting a little bit closer to finally getting to let everyone hear and see what it is... all the great people we have gotten to play with... and now... all we have to do is wait until...


(For those who can't wait, you can always go see "Snakes on a Plane" when it comes out- rumor has it that they will be showing trailers for "Let's Go To Prison" before "Snakes.")

Big thanks to Hank Cicalo- who kept things sounding great- and our music supervisor- G. Marq Roswell- who kept explaining to people with money why we needed all the great musicians we got to play and the contributions that these players would make to make the movie better (which I think we did, immodesty aside).

I am a fortunate guy to have gotten the privilege to work with Bob, Dave Allen, Dave Koechner, The Dick-Around Gang, Tommy Morgan, The Queens of the Stone Age, Rahzel, James Gadson, Ray Parker, Jr., Reggie McBride, King Errisson, Scott Kinsey, Billy Hulting, Gary Gardner, Walter Smith III, the Prison Gang String Quartet, Meg White and Hank Cicalo- and I am as proud of the work Bob and I accompished as I am of anything I have worked on. We are working on getting a soundtrack record together- and I will keep posting when there is news regarding that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

There is an Irving Berlin song... that sums it up:

"I haven't ambitions for lofty positions
That wind up with the wealth of the land
I'll give you the throne that a king sat on
For just a small baton
Providing you included a band

If I could be the wealthy owner of a large industry
I would say, "Not for me"
I'd rather lead a band

If I could be a politician with a chance to dictate
I would say, "Let it wait"
I'd rather lead a band

My ev'ry care ceases
I'm rich as old Croesus
When I've got ten pieces
In hand"

So here's who I got to lead:

and here's the story:

We finally get to scoring the magical Bob (see below) movie. And so we put together the greatest rhythm section.



Don't even try to argue.

I got like one of those "you can't argue with me" dreamteams.... like what would it be like if Magic were passing to Bird passing to Jordan (ok- I have that on tape- it was the 1992 dream team- particularly the first qualifying of the Americas tourney when they played together vs. Cuba... but I digress)... well here's the rhythm dream team:

James Gadson on drums

King Errisson on bongos and congas

Rahzel beatboxing and breaking legs

Shoot, I could have used just James, King and Rahzel and it would have been the all-time hip-hop sample library... but we are not done yet.

Ray Parker, Jr on guitar... and before you say it... who you gone call?

Reggie McBride on bass Oh, and go watch Reggie playing with Stevie Wonder in 1973 here:

Scott Kinsey on keyboards

Billy Hulting on percussion

Gary Gardner on percussion

We had only two days...

But for two days, I was the luckiest man... on the face of the earth (Gehrig, Magic... whatever).

note the amount of pages on my right (cues not done yet) and those on the right (done)

But, with all that music to do.... I could look down in front of me and see RAY PARKER, JR.!

Please, we never had ANY problems.

So here's some photos of the fun for one and for all.

In terms of hip-hop history... here is a good one. Perry Botkin, Jr. and King Errisson see each other for the first time in 25 years. Perry wrote and produced all the Incredible Bongo Band records ("Apache" anyone?) and of course, the bongo player in the Incredible Bongo Band IS King Errisson.

When we started placing Bongo Band records into the temp score, I called my pal Perry and asked "How many bongo players did you use and where are they?"

Perry then referred me to the King and we found two days where he was off the Neil Diamond show he is on tour with these days.

King Errisson is the man. You think you gotta a better bongo man.

You are wrong.

Here's me and Rah- Rah- Rahzel

Again... Who you gone call? Mr. Telephone Man.

Bob and Rahzel

My thanks to everybody- our music super G. Marq Roswell, music editor David Carbonara, the studio at Glenwood Place (nice place!, nice folks too) and my attorney general, head groundskeeper and man who makes the train run on time, Hank Cicalo- who is also the best engineer anywhere.

This was the most fun recording date I have ever attended- let alone been a part of. The band worked that sucker to death- wait til you hear it.

from left: Billy Hulting, Ray Parker, Jr. (last time: Who you gone call?), Hank Cicalo, Reggie McBride, Bob Odenkirk (below), Scott Kinsey (above Bob), King Errisson, James Gadson, Rahzel, G. Marq Roswell, me (!), David Carbonara.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Rock star weekend/ Part 1: Queens of the Stone Age= Bob's genius plan.

The genius of Bob Odenkirk.

He gets giant rock stars to become session cats for a day.


Simple. He has a system. He sticks to it. And so far it has worked every time.

What is involved?

Again, simple.

Let me explain.

He gets the rock star(s) a gift- a tasteful, relevant gift- and the rock stars love these gifts because Bob has magic shoes.

It begins innocently- as it did last Thursday for case #1, the Queens of the Stone Age.

Here's the story: First, Bob and I use Bob's celebrity status to sneak backstage at the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Once there, we set about begging the Queens of the Stone Age to pretty please play a couple cues for the soundtrack to the movie... and magically, they fall for it!

Josh Homme is a most generous dude (and he is a DUDE-especially for anybody who remembers Kyuss) and if there is a more fun bunch of people to hang out with- and play music with- than the Queens... well, bring those bitches on too. Because Bob has magic shoes and we have gifts.

Lots of them.

Below, Bob and Alan Johannes discuss the opening title sequence. But wait... on closer inspection... we see the gifts- three copies of Naomi Odenkirk's "Mr. Show Book" sit on the table along with Bob's pager/magic wand and notepad (magic shoes obstructed by gifts- see below for display of magic).

Next, we moved in to Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider's studio on Friday and the Queens played a couple cues and the opening title sequence. Click on the picture to hear the chaos scene written specifically for our friends the Queens!

Happy with their day, Bob, Natasha and Alain pose for the camera to prove that this in fact all happened.

One down... a weekend with nothing to do in front of us.

Hey, wait- let's go get more rock star/session players.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Part 2: Meg White... Take him to Detroit! Bob's genius plan.

Bob's plan had worked so well on the Queens, we thought we would try it on Meg White.

So we flew to Detroit, where the White Stripes played the last shows of their American tour (and where they live). Once we were there, Bob and I went to Border's books in downtown Detroit and got Meg a present- but not before stopping by the Motown Museum where Bob posed with our friend Elton in front of the building where some of the greatest music in history was recorded.

Next, it was off to the Tempermill Studios in Ferndale, MI and once we got there... well...

It worked!


Below is Bob pretending to be casual as Meg, like a moth to the flame... a deer in the headlights... a rabbit in the hat... falls for the plan! (Notice Bob's magical shoes as an obvioulsy entranced Meg opens her gift. Also, White Stripes fans, note the color of the wrapping paper. It is always in the details.)

Properly bewitched, Meg played the drum parts that accompanies Dax Shepherd character.

Meg's drumming is something we thought would be perfect for the character that Dax plays and she was great. Meg was very generous- it was her first day home in too many months- but she came down and played her heart out for us and the movie will be much richer for her contribution.

Welcome to the world of session playing, Meg. You were sensational and it was a thrill and a fantastic experience for us and we hope you enjoy the gift.

Below, Meg and Bob pose for the camera to again prove that it actually happened.