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Carol Kaye: Session Legend Interview (full)

Carol Kaye: Session Legend Interview (full) (we had here on the forums a few times)

This is special! She is special


djmukilteo Thu, 01/30/2014 - 15:01
Great video and interview!....she really lived the era of great session musicians in the studio who actually knew how to play and create real music.
Her chordal notes approach as well as all the big band and jazz structure influence and experience really makes it clear why all those classic hit songs from the 60's were so good.
It really explains how pathetically sad some of these current music genre's are such crap and how far it has gone awry!
There are so many people out there that don't have any of this musical background and knowledge anymore and the technology has made it so easy for them to just make lousy music cheaply which has no value or feeling...

anonymous Fri, 01/31/2014 - 07:25
From what I've seen in interviews and read in articles, The Wrecking Crew worked pretty much 'round the clock in those heady days... going from a Brian Wilson session to a session recording The Monkees to a session recording The Mama's and the Papa's to another session...

With the exception of First-Call, A-List session players in places like Nashville or New York, I don't know if these kinds of session player groups exist these days, those session ensembles that had pretty much the same very talented people, playing together all the time, people who knew each others' chops, who were familiar with each ones' individual style of playing, who got to be so familiar with each other that the bass player would know where the drummer was going next - sometimes even before the drummer knew... LOL... and last but not least, people who were also friends.

With the exception of bands, I'm not hearing the musical creativity and synergy between players that happened naturally when you put people like Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine and Glen Campbell in a room together, or other "crews" that included great session cats like Waddy Wachtel, Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel (The L.A. Mellow Mafia), or James Jamerson, Earl Van Dyke and Papa Zita (Funk Brothers), or Duck Dunn, Booker T, Isaac Hayes and Steve Cropper ( "The Big Six "from Stax)..
...or any of the other groups of session players who ended up defining "the sound" of an era, using both individual and collective talent - the kind of talent that only happens when you put musicians like these together.


Now, there's just 'some guy' with Pro Tools, a library of NI virtual instruments and pre-recorded loops and phrases.

I'm not saying that it doesn't take knowledge to put these things together into a cohesive form, I just don't think it takes much talent.

djmukilteo Fri, 01/31/2014 - 10:44
So true, that's probably the missing component to what's out there these days. It seems they're all looking for a piece of equipment from the old days that will give them the mojo...LOL
Talented players in a room playing a composition together is the mojo.
But then I'm old and grew up listening to those songs and people, and the younger crowd really likes what is out there today. So it's hard to tell if I'm just jaded...
I'm sure it will come full circle and after this phase runs it's course there will be something new and maybe they'll go back to the big band idea.....
It really doesn't matter to me, I like listening to my music and I don't have to listen to the new stuff...

audiokid Fri, 01/31/2014 - 12:11
I've always considered myself (musicians) as athletes. We are not only musically inclined from theory to technology, we are also physically gifted. This is what separates us from the rest.
If you aren't gifted, no amount of money in the world can buy what I was born with and worked at perfecting all my life.
There is something to be said about the human aspect of music that we all value even at the simplest form, which is a good song played from the heart. That is the secret to music and what I continue to pass on, even when I am programming this new stuff. I've found, even playing a guitar subtle in the back ground of electronic music makes it sound more welcoming.

All the bells and whistles never impress me ( connect to my heart) as much as hearing a beautiful song performed like a "true musician". Is that term valid today or am I politically rude?

Today, composing music is less athletic and more academic to a degree of being compared to kindergarten level. But, like everything, to be world class, it also opens up into a whole new world that takes a lot of mind and technology to do it well too. I mean, it took me ten years to learn how plug-ins aren't what they "look like" hehe!

As an example, we have Ableton Live and the Modern DJ to thank for a lot of this. They take bars and piece them together like building blocks. Its paint by numbers.
I know it takes brains to do it well, BUT, commercial success sadly is more and more about dancing and jumping around like kids drunk on candy. What an embarrassment to music and humanity.

Its a very weird music world. Money and the power of persuasion has really messed things up. Reminds me of religion and politics.

BobRogers Fri, 01/31/2014 - 13:30
I am a huge Carol Kaye fan. I've learned more about playing bass from her books, articles, tapes, and videos than from any other single source. I love her playing and her whole approach to music.

So, let me get up on my soapbox and rant. Of the many reasons that I hold the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in contempt, my number one reason is that Carol Kaye has never been inducted in the sidemen category. The reason for this is clear. For years she listed Motown songs on her published resume on which James Jamerson played the bass on the released recording. Whether this is a misunderstanding, or faulty memory, or a flat out lie (all have been claimed) is immaterial. The R&RHoF celebrates drunkards, drug addicts, thieves, adulterers, rapists, pederasts, wife beaters, and Methodists*, but apparently they draw the line at padding your resume. Worthless morons.

*Blazing Saddles reference

BobRogers Fri, 01/31/2014 - 14:14
I think there is a bit of 20/20 hindsight in the "Wrecking Crew" story. If you read between the lines, the hierarchy probably wasn't as clearly defined at the time as we can see it now. There were lots of musicians, lots of studios, lots of labels, lots of movie studios. Looking back we can see that there were a handful of people who keep turning up on the hits. But they also played on the crap (and got paid the same wages.) And there are a lot of other musicians who turned up on a few hits, but not as many as the people we now see as the top players. My guess is that it was more like maybe modern Nashville than "small-town" studios like Motown, Stax, and Muscle Shoals. Those definitely had more of the organizational structure of a "band." LA at the time seems (at this distance in space and time) much looser. (The important thing, of course, is that the SOUNDED like a band.)

Has anyone seen The Wrecking Crew movie? There was a screening at NAMM. Was anyone there? (I read the book by Kent Hartman.)

I own the DVD of Standing in the Shadows of Motown and have lent it to as many people as will let me press it into their hands. I saw the Muscle Shoals documentary on iTunes. It's not quite as well made a documentary as Motown, but I think anyone reading this board would appreciate it. I might have to break down and buy Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records some day.

anonymous Sat, 02/01/2014 - 04:04
Standing In The Shadows was a remarkable film. I too have lent and suggested it to as many of my musical brethren as I can.

I'd love to see the Wrecking Crew film but as of yet I haven't heard anything about a release - past the showing at NAMM. I have also not seen the Stax or Muscle Shoals docs. I love that stuff.

As far as lesser-known groups, wasn't there a session group in the late 60's / early 70's fronted by a singer who were responsible for songs like Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes and Beach Baby, etc...They even gave themselves different artist/band names for each release... like Rosemary was Edison Lighthouse, and Beach baby was by a "band" called "First Class" or something like that, yet, were all the same cats.

I'm not sure, it may have been either a Don Kirshner or Mike Curb led group... or maybe I'm imaging this...

DonnyThompson Fri, 01/16/2015 - 09:42

I have had recent correspondence with Carol.

I wrote her about a week ago, using the email link on her website, just to tell her how I felt about her as a musician, and that I often use her bass playing and Hal Blaine's drumming as prime examples of great rhythm section relationships.

I really didn't write her with the intent of getting her to write me back. I didn't expect it at all, to be honest.

But a few days ago, she did write me back - a very cool and personable letter, thanking me for my email to her, and with some general thoughts about music, and how it was to be a working session player during a time when some pretty great music was being written and recorded.

She also included several attachments ( 15 of them, actually) where she talks about various session experiences, songs that she played on, and remembering how it was during that time as a working studio musician.
My personal fave attachment so far, is her story on how she came up with the bass line for Joe Cocker's Feelin' Alright... and then how she had trouble playing the part she had just written herself...LOL

I was very hesitant to post this email here publicly; I really didn't want to come off as a "name dropper", and honestly, I thought that I'd perhaps get replies of "Uhm... yeah... sure she wrote you Donny... it's time to wake up for school now... " LOL

But, she did write me, and after sharing the email with Chris and a few others, Chris has encouraged me to post it here, so, here it is...

Donny, what a beautiful message! Thank-you my Friend. All in a day's work really, but as you might know, most of our group of musicians who did studio work had come up from hard times, worked hard before any work in the studios and you sure appreciated and were grateful for the good pay. Lots of recording work in the late 1950s ,all of the 1960s and into the 70s.
I feel sorry for those later on, suffering from change of styles of music and then the sort of ego years, it has been sad to see the lack of real music being recorded the last 30 or so years, being replaced by pre recorded loops and such.
I attribute that also to drugs as well as changes of music (rap, hop etc etc.) and somehow I always think it will get better, and receiving your message, I know it will! Thanks for keeping the flame alive for real music! Keep writing and keep recording!
All the best to you Donny, a big hug!
-Carol Kaye
PS see the enclosed attachments, OK to share!

It was a most pleasant surprise. I'll share a few of her attachments later, gotta get to work on a mix right now, though. A deadline is looming. ;)


Kurt Foster Fri, 01/16/2015 - 11:15
DonnyThompson, post: 423734, member: 46114 wrote: I was very hesitant to post this email here publicly; I really didn't want to come off as a "name dropper", and honestly, I thought that I'd perhaps get replies of "Uhm... yeah... sure she wrote you Donny... it's time to wake up for school now... " LOL

actually it's very believable Donny. Carol is pretty active and accessible on the internet. we actually had Carol log in and do a couple of Q&A sessions back 2003 (i think). i did a search and i couldn't find them. perhaps Chris would know where to find them? my ex became email buddies with Ms Kay for a couple of years.

as far as credits go, only Barry Gordy knows which was which and he ain't talking. as a general practice at Motown, a lot of songs were recorded as various versions, in more than one studio both in Detroit and in LA ([=",d.cGU"]Armin Steiner[/]="…"]Armin Steiner[/]), at different times with different artists. there were a lot of sessions done in small [[url=http://="…"]private studios[/]="…"]private studios[/], off the union log books and in avoidance of union rules concerning overdubs, so it is quite possible some of the disputed recordings may have been played by Carol Kay but attributed to Jamerson and vice versa.

Tony Carpenter Fri, 01/16/2015 - 13:06
I watched the video, what a great 1 hour and 10 mins :). Should probably have been working, what the heck LOL. Tonight I get to go play my 6 string and 12 string and hopefully entertain my audience with songs my wife and I write. As Chris (audiokid) observes, musicians are like athletes. I am glad I can still go out and play, but oh we are under siege from so much crap and theft etc. I believe it's wonderful we can sit in our studios and record, but, we need to get out perform more!. Remind people what real music, live sounds like, in more places.

Anyhow, I am running off again, thank you for sharing :).



audiokid Fri, 01/16/2015 - 15:03
We've done 4 upgrades since day one. UBB (1998 2002) had most of the heavy hitters. We lost about 10,000 posts. I cried over that one. Lots a famous people back then.

two years ago I pruned over 40,000 member that were dead links and such. Made a huge difference in performance and google indexing. I'm just now seeing the benefits of that large prune. Its important not to let software and your server get behind. 've had expenses and trouble keeping up with old forums that couldn't be moved without some loss. Part of migrating to new software.


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