by Gary Powell, Musical Arranger/Producer
The World Premier song “Baloo” is being released on Walt Disney Records this October 2, a mere 44 years after it was written. This very simple piano/vocal score was dated September 19, 1963 with the writing credits, “Lyrics by Bill Peat and Music by George Burns”. This song did not make the original cut for the “Jungle Book” movie. I’ll leave the full story about how and why to the Disney historians. As a musical arranger and producer, it was satisfying to bring this song to life in my studio.
Disney executive producer Ted Kryczko suggested a Louis Prima type of feel to match our earlier recording of “The Bare Necessities”. I accomplished this by first playing the piano part using Larry Seyer’s GigaPiano which comes packaged with GigaStudio3. Next I played in the tuba part with a sample from the SAM Solo Sessions Orchestral Brass Library and lastly added drums from Larry Seyer’s Acoustic Drum Library. Then the very same Larry Seyer of Many Talents played the shuffle banjo part on a vintage 1972 5-String Alvarez Silver Princess loaned to us by Austin psychotherapist Amy Person. You don’t really need that information, but it does make perfect sense for musicians who never see daylight that we have our own personal therapist on the property.
After playing the banjo part Larry Seyer says, “sounds like this piece needs a trumpet, clarinet and trombone.” Yep! Within twenty minutes I had all three players (pictured left) booked and scheduled. Saxman Paul Baker drove across Austin with his licorice stick immediately. The black-gloved trombone man, Mike Mordecai, was literally driving in front of my parents old house when I called. I don’t believe in synchronicity except when this kind of thing happens. Austin’s favorite improvisational trumpet man, Gary Slechta, followed Paul Baker and Mike Mordecai’s lead performing with plunger in hand the next day as if these guys played together all the time, which they do!
I broke with traditional recording techniques for recording these horn parts. Each player’s improvised part was recorded with a stereo pair of David Royer’s Mojave MA-200 cardiod tube microphones. For the clarinet I put one Mojave about a foot under the bell for the spittal sound and the second Mojave about a foot over the middle of the clarinet for the warmth of Paul’s playing. I followed suit with the same stereo miking technique for Gary Slechta’s trumpet. For Mike Mordecai’s trombone, I thought it might be fun to capture a left to right stereo image when he would naturally drop the bell of his trombone on a long slide out. Therefore, I miked the trombone with the pair of Mojaves directly on top of each other about four feet apart. This trombone stereo pair was panned hard left and right, which gave each the horn some natural imaging movement that I just loved in the mix. The clarinet bell microphone, which is more percussive, was panned hard left and the more mellow mid-instrument microphone was panned hard right. I reversed this panning choice for the trumpet to balance the left/right brightness in the mix.
A Disney favorite singer, Craig Toungate, who covered the new recording of Baloo’s vocal on “Bare Necessities” also came to put the icing on the cake.