Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The making of a radio show, part 1: In the studio with Nancy Harms and Tanner Taylor

More in this series: Part 2 (Maud Hixson), Part 3 (Debbie Duncan)

Nancy Harms and Tanner Taylor
Singer and radio host Arne Fogel is creating a new series for public radio station KBEM called (working title) Minnesota Voices: Certain Standards. Tentatively scheduled for spring 2011, it will run for 13 weeks, 5 days/week.

Listeners will hear songs from the Great American Songbook sung by Twin Cities vocalists Debbie Duncan, Connie Evingson, Nancy Harms, Maud Hixson, and Fogel himself, plus Fogel's stories about the songs.

It's an ambitious project that should add much to our understanding of these songs and their importance. Each singer is recording 13 songs; each weekday will feature a different singer.

Arne Fogel
John and I have been invited into the recording studio to watch, listen, learn, and take photos. On Monday, October 11, we were at Wild Sound in NE Minneapolis to hear Nancy Harms (who recently moved to NYC and had returned for the Blue: Songs on the Indigo Side show at the Capri) and pianist Tanner Taylor. These are the songs they recorded that day:

"Almost Like Being in Love"
"Days of Wine and Roses"
"Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise"
"Autumn Leaves"
"If I Were a Bell"
"I've Got the World on a String"
"On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)"

Nancy Harms
It was fascinating to hear the various takes, stops and starts, Fogel's precise and incisive comments, the performers' decisions, and the results of Wild Sound's Matthew Zimmerman's work at the editing board (or whatever you call that thing he works on; I suspect I'll learn some real terminology along the way). He turns two takes into one and the seam is indistinguishable. The studio's speakers make my home speakers sound like tin cans. No, worse.

Because this is Fogel's show, "certain standards" has at least two meanings. Obviously, it applies to the songs he and his guests have chosen, all American standards. But it also applies to how he chose the singers. All are pros with their own distinct style and way with a song. All will approach the music with the respect it deserves, then put their own stamp on it.

Next up: Maud Hixson and Rick Carlson.

Photos by John Whiting.

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