One of the best moments at the studio I can recall was the time I had acclaimed session musician Wanda Vick in to play on a client alternative music project.
Some background: Wanda is a bit unusual because most musicians can play one instrument at session quality, two or three max. Wanda plays seven. There are a few pro female session players around town, but far more males, adding further distance from the norm.
Wanda’s reputation preceded her and at some point I simply had to try this “female musician who plays seven instruments at session quality.” When I finally did she easily lived up to her rep and I’ve hired her many times since. A producer sometimes has to give note-by-note direction. With Wanda that’s at a minimum. I learned fast it’s usually best to stay out of the way and let her do her thing.
So I knew what to expect but my clients that day, songwriters Ed and Jennifer had no clue. They’re early twenty somethings writing alt rock and Wanda’s from a different generation, warming up in the adjacent room on bluegrass licks. How does this work?
So just as Wanda finishes tuning up and starts adding tracks on their tune, in walk two horn players who were scheduled to play on a different song later that day. The door to the control room was open because Wanda’s in the attached iso booth.
We start tracking and she;s doing her thing, padding exactly where it’s called for adding some tasteful licks between the phrases in the verses wherever I’ve marked the chart for fiddle.
Then she reaches the solo, and man, no doubt, it was just amazing.
We backtrack to the solo where I’m hearing possible harmony. As Wanda played the horn players had apparently felt compelled to move into the control room because there they are, watching Wanda through the iso booth glass. They couldn’t hide their excitement as the second pass on the solo built, increasing in intensity and passion as it progressed. She finished off with an incredible flurry of notes, in harmony to the first part she had laid prior, exactly what the tune needed to take it to a whole new level. The horn players, who really had nothing to do with it, were high fiving each other, totally caught up in the moment, and I noticed one of my clients, I won’t say which, wipe tears of joy from their eyes, the solo was that perfect, the moment so emotional. Me? I was thinking, “Just another Wanda session.” Emotional, spot on playing is what she’s about.
After the mixing was done Ed and Jen thanked me profusely for choosing such fantastic players for their tune.
Especially that Wanda Vick lady.
And if you ever read this Wanda, Producer Bill thanks you too : )