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How a CD gets made

Piano Town by John Autin

I’ve decided to share with everyone how much effort and talent and luck goes into producing a good record. I also thought I’d share some of the incredible things that have to happen and also how God’s hand is involved for all the pieces to come together. I'll share some tunes that I have produced over the years and hopefully inspire you to share it with your friends and maybe even Download or buy a CD here.

The one I’m sharing today is the title cut from my own CD Pianotown, the follow up to the Pianoface CD. First, the songwriter is Grammy award winning Jon Vezner. I met Jon and his more famous wife Kathy Mattea, at a songwriters retreat in Canada that I attended as a break from rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Jon’s songs are profound and from the heart, but he had this great little song that he had written and he thought it would be perfect for me.

I played Piano Town Solo for a year trying to perfect it and with Jon’s permission, I changed one line. Originally the line listed world famous pianists "Elton John, Billy Joel, and Jerry Lee", but since I’m not a national artist I changed that to “Dr. John, Professor Longhair, and Me” more suitable to my local New Orleans fans.

Next was getting a producer. You might say ????? but John you are a producer. I’ve always recommended to musicians, to use a producer, someone who can be objective and be a little removed to be a sounding board so I followed my own advice and asked Cindy Scott to produce the CD. She was a wonderful partner and the CD is much much better because of all her work and suggestions the first of which was to find the best piano in New Orleans that would inspire me and the second was to hire the best Drummer and Bassist we could get.

She suggested Herlin Riley, who had played in my band in the early 80’s, but I had not seen in many, many years! So it was great to see Herlin again and he cheerfully accepted the session. On Bass is the wonderful Roland Guerin. He did the session at Misha Kachkachishvili Studio in Metairie tracking all the bass and drums with scratch vocals and scratch piano for the entire CD. Roland and Herlin were just fantastic and it was a fun and amazing experience recording with them.

Next, after auditioning dozens of pianos around town, my favorite was a Steinway (of course) in the teaching recording studio at UNO. I had Matt McWilliams come in and voice and tune the the piano right before I recorded. I think Piano Town was one take at the end of a long night of recording. While not note perfect, I liked the feel and roughness of my track so I used it.

Are you tired of reading yet? LOL. Bet you had no idea all that we went through to make a record, did you?😀 So next was the horns, and I called on my old college band mate Eric Alexander to write the Horn arrangement to fit what we had already recorded. I absolutely love what he came up with. Horns are played by Tracy Griffin, Trumpet, Brent Rose, Tenor Sax. Rick Trolsen, Trombone.
Next, was the backing vocals of Tim Ernest, Lindsay Mendez, Cindy Scott, RuthAnn Kerr, Julie Odell, and Tracy Griffen.

The final thing recorded was my Lead vocals, which I used my prized vintage Neumann M-49b and vocal both designed by Bruce Barielle at my house, so I could sing it as many times as I wanted all by myself 😀. But Bruce and Cindy and my wife, Jill Coffey, were there to give me feedback and moral support🙏.

So we’re finally Done. ........ recording that is. Ha, you didn’t think it was that easy did you?! Now we have to mix. Mixing is a process of taking each and every instrument and adjust it separately, so you end up spending hours on blending, adding bass and treble, compression, reverbs, delays all in just the right amounts to make the final product . Now we’re finished, right???

Nope, one final stage called Mastering, where a totally different engineer takes the final stereo mix and listens to it One Last Time, and can make little fine tuning adjustments to equalization and compression doing that final polish to the gem.

So enjoy Piano Town and share my child with all your friends and maybe think about buying the Piano Town CD.

God Bless if you read this far!

Musically yours, John G. Autin.

PS - You can buy it HERE. AND listen to it HERE.