– Project marks the latest in a series of collaborations between The Bakery Founder Eric Boulanger and legendary producer/engineer Al Schmitt, who has been part of Krall’s production team since her earliest records –
LOS ANGELES, CA – Diana Krall’s latest LP, Turn Up the Quiet, recently released on Verve Records, has received nothing but accolades throughout the industry. The record was the final project that Krall collaborated on with five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning record producer Tommy LiPuma, who passed away shortly after the records completion. Krall, who wrote in her liner notes for the album simply “For Tommy,” had worked with LiPuma on 11 releases over the past 25 years, beginning with the 1995 release of Only Trust Your Heart. Also part of the production team were 20+ GRAMMY Award-winning producer/engineer Al Schmitt and critically acclaimed mastering engineer Eric Boulanger, founder of mastering facility The Bakery in Los Angeles, CA.
“Working on this record was a real thrill,” states Al Schmitt. “I’ve worked with Tommy on 111 albums together, by my count, and we’ve been friends for over 50 years. At the mastering session, we had no idea this would be his last project. This was already a truly outstanding, special record, and now it’s also a great tribute to my friend Tommy. No matter what, the music lives on.”
Eric Boulanger, who once worked under the tutelage of legendary mastering engineer Doug Sax from the Mastering Lab, recalls what it was like to work with what he calls “the dream team”: “I remember in my early days in the industry, working with Doug Sax, we always looked forward to mastering projects engineered or produced by Al Schmitt. In particular I remember the multi-GRAMMY Award ‘dream team’ – Al Schmitt, Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall. Tommy and Al were so serious about Diana’s records and set such high standards, that you always wanted to and needed to go that extra mile to give them exactly what they wanted.”
And so it was with Krall’s new LP, Turn Up the Quiet. Schmitt and LiPuma, who have been part of Krall’s production team for most of her albums, hand-picked Boulanger (along with assistant mastering engineer Jett Galindo) to master the record – a session that occurred shortly before LiPuma’s passing in March.
“As with any project Al Schmitt brings in, our number-one objective is to do everything in our power to help bring his genius to the world!” laughs Boulanger, referring to the famously dialed-in and musical mixes that Schmitt crafts pre-mastering. “This far into his career, how he is still finding new ways to top himself sonically is so inspiring to us. Tommy and Al do everything in high resolution, and of course everything is organic and perfect, so my job is to get what they heard that day in the studio to translate to everyone in the home. To get handed a project like this to work on is so satisfying, especially when we get the approval of the artist, engineer and producer.”
Krall envisioned the LP as a bit of a return to her jazz roots, and Schmitt’s approach in the studio was a time-tested winning formula – great musicians and great microphones in a great space – in this case, Studio A at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, the storied recording space made iconic by Frank Sinatra and dozens of others. Schmitt remarks, “We got a chance to use the ‘Sinatra mic’ at Capitol – a beautiful Neumann U 47 that Ol’ Blue Eyes himself used for some of his classic cuts, along with a pre-amp that was custom-built for me for just this type of use. You just can’t argue with the results of a microphone like that, and working with a vocalist as expressive as Diana, that type of microphone really makes the tracks sparkle and pop with life. I love Diana so much. She’s one of my all-time favorites to work with. And getting Eric to master was a clear decision – I’ve been bringing him lots of projects lately, and I really trust his ears. Plus he’s a great person to be around, with a great sense of humor. We’re on the same wavelength. All of us got reference discs after the session, and Diana and Tommy and I got on the phone together and raved about how amazing it sounded. It’s just a great record, and I’m intensely proud of it.”
LiPuma’s passing affected both Boulanger and Schmitt profoundly. Boulanger notes, “Really, I consider Doug, Al and Tommy all mentors of mine, and I wouldn’t have the career I have without their guidance. We had to say goodbye to Doug a few years ago, and now we say goodbye to Tommy. I’m glad we got to work on one more project with him before his passing. We miss him dearly, but this record, and all the amazing work throughout his career, are testament to his soul and creative spirit.”
Photo caption: Pictured L-R: Eric Boulanger, Tommy LiPuma, Al Schmitt and Steve Genewick. Photo by Jett Galindo, The Bakery. © 2017.