Mixing Josephine Beaver's Prime Time and Tracking Big Bands with Al Schmitt
Al Schmitt is mixing royalty. He has won over twenty Grammy Awards. His list of album credits reads like the history of recorded music: Rosemary Clooney, Henry Mancini, Duke Ellington, Neil Young, Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Brown, Al Jarreau, Ray Charles, Toto, Steely Dan, Diana Krall... How many people can say they’ve been involved in sessions with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney?
Al Schmitt is also down to earth, humble, accommodating, and eager to share a wealth of information. The focus of this interview is the sonic reshaping of a big band album of American standards by Josephine Beavers, recorded at Hollywood’s Capitol Studios in the mid-1990s and released under the title, Yesterday Is Now (1996). Last October, an expanded set from these sessions was released as Prime Time, in stunning fidelity. Prime Time effortlessly transports the listener back to the great big band era of the 1940s and 1950s. Two significant factors here: Capitol Studios, and Al Schmitt. Naturally, our discussion went off-topic to other, equally fascinating topics, including Al’s work on the Al Schmitt Decades SDX drum library for Toontrack (reviewed January 2020)—all these fun tangents made our pages, so enjoy!