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Session musicians are instrumental and vocal performers who are available to work with others at live performances or recording sessions. Usually such musicians are not permanent members of a musical ensemble and often do not achieve fame in their own right. The term is applied not only to those working in contemporary musical styles such as rock, jazz, country, and pop but also classical music. Versatility is one of the most important skills of the session musician as he may have to perform in a range of different settings.

Session musicians are used in any situation where musical skills are needed on a short-term basis. Typically session musicians are used by recording studios to provide backing tracks for other musicians in recording studios and live performances, also for advertising, film, television music and theatrical productions. Session musicians are also expected to learn parts rapidly and to be skilled in sight reading.

The terms "session musician" and "studio musician" are now synonomous. A studio musician works in a recording studio environment, usually for record labels and sometimes for a single studio or record company and will often perform with associated artistes in live shows.

Contents

History and associations

During the 1920s and 1930s most record companies had their own prolific "studio bands" turning out records of the latest pop hits. These were often made up by jazz and dance band musicians who were at the same time members of regular working bands and who divided their time between studio work (recordings as well as broadcasting) during the day and live performances in the evenings. Notable such "studio musicians" include Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Red Nichols, Miff Mole, and Mike Mosiello.

Among the most prolific established studio musicians are The Wrecking Crew, based in Los Angeles. Although session musicians have long and successful careers and can achieve considerable fame within the musical industry, they often do not achieve popular celebrity.

Notable exceptions include the members of the band Toto, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, who were well known as session musicians before their later success with Led Zeppelin, keyboardist Rick Wakeman, Valerie Simpson, Lisa Fischer and Luther Vandross. Carol Kaye is said to be the most recorded bassist of all time with 10,000 sessions spanning four decades[1], yet is largely unknown to the general public. Richard Fortus session player for Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias and others has also played Rhythm Guitar for Guns N' Roses and appears on their album Chinese Democracy. A few session musicians have even built reputations of infamy: English session singer Tony Burrows had such a knack for appearing as a frontman for various one-hit wonder studio groups (such as Edison Lighthouse, The Flower Pot Men, The Pipkins, The Brotherhood of Man, White Plains and The First Class) in a short period of time (the early 1970s) that his attempts at a solo career under his own name were hampered, due in part to burnout.

Another well known group of session musicians is called the The Nashville A-Team and is made up of A list studio musicians who recorded during the Nashville Sound era. Their contributions began in the 1950s with artists such as Elvis Presley. Some of these musicians are still alive today and the original A-Team includes, bassist Bob Moore, guitarists Grady Martin, Hank Garland, Ray Edenton and Harold Bradley, drummer Buddy Harman, pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins, fiddler Tommy Jackson, steel guitarist Pete Drake, harmonicast Charlie McCoy, saxophonist Boots Randolph, pianist Floyd Cramer, also vocal groups the Jordanaires and the Anita Kerr Singers. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section comprising Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and also known as The Swampers are also a well know group of session musicians. they have become known for the "Muscle Shoals Sound."

Other established session musicians

  • Drums:

Clem Cattini Kenny Aronoff, Mike Baird, Eddie Bayers, Gregg Bissonette, Hal Blaine, Jan Axel Blomberg, Mike Botts, Brendan Buckley, Clem Cattini, Matt Chamberlain, Dennis Chambers, Gary Chester, Vinnie Colaiuta, Phil Collins, Mickey Curry, Josh Freese, Steve Gadd, James Gadson, Ed Greene, Winston Grennan, Willie Hall, Buddy Harman, Roger Hawkins, Ryan Hoyle, Tris Imboden, Al Jackson, Jr., Steve Jordan, John Keane, Jim Keltner, Abraham Laboriel Jr., Paul Leim, Larrie Londin, Ray Luzier, Harvey Mason, Pat Mastelotto, Dave Mattacks, Charlie Morgan, Nate Morton, Andy Newmark, Earl Palmer, Simon Phillips, Jeff Porcaro, Prairie Prince, Bernard Purdie, Tony Thompson, Joey Waronker, and Dave Weckl.

  • Electric bass:

Les Hurdle Neil Stubenhaus, James Alexander, Bob Babbitt, Wilbur Bascomb, Tommy Cogbill, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Nathan East, Herbie Flowers, David Hood, David Hungate, Anthony Jackson, Randy Jackson, James Jamerson, Jerry Jemmott, John Paul Jones, Carol Kaye, Abraham Laboriel, Will Lee, Tony Levin, Joe Long, Marcus Miller, Bob Moore, Joe Osborn, Pino Palladino, Dave Peacock, John Pierce, Wojciech Pilichowski, Guy Pratt, Chuck Rainey, Michael Rhodes Patrick Scales, Tommy Sims, Leland Sklar, and Willie Weeks.

  • Guitar:

Duane Allman, Pete Anderson, Harold Bradley, James Burton, Larry Carlton, Bernie Chiaravalle, Ry Cooder, Steve Cropper, Bobby Tench, Vic Flick, Richard Fortus, Bruce Gaitsch, Hank Garland, Andrew Gold, Jay Graydon, Jimi Hendrix, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, Dann Huff, Paul Jackson Jr., Michael Landau, Sonny Landreth, David Lindley, Steve "Luke" Lukather, Eddie Martinez, Grady Martin, Brent Mason Jim McGorman, Scotty Moore, Rafael Moreira, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Jimmy Page, Dean Parks, Tim Pierce, Lee Ritenour, Nile Rodgers, Janne Schaffer, Slash, Earl "Chinna" Smith, Daryl Stuermer, Big Jim Sullivan, Tim Scott, Hubert Sumlin, Tommy Tedesco, Michael Thompson, Carl Verheyen, and Reggie Young.

  • Steel Guitar:

Buddy Emmons, Paul Franklin, and Al Perkins

  • Keyboards:

Walter Afanasieff, Don Airey, John Barnes, Jeff Bova, David Briggs, Robbie Buchanan, Ray Chew, Floyd Cramer, David Foster, Steve George, Don Grolnick, Roy Harter, Paul Harris, Charles Hodges, Nicky Hopkins, Johnnie Johnson, Booker T. Jones, John Paul Jones, Bradley Joseph, Larry Knechtel, Chuck Leavell, Patrick Leonard, Jim McGorman, Ian McLagan, Michael McDonald, Paul Mirkovich, Rob Mounsey, Spooner Oldham, Michael Omartian, David Paich, Charlie Peacock, Greg Phillinganes, Steve Porcaro, Billy Preston, Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Ike Turner, Carson Whitsett and Peter Wolf.

  • Percussion:

Alex Acuna, Ralph MacDonald, Paulinho Da Costa, Luis Conte, Michael G. Fisher, Joe Lala, Steve Schaeffer, Frank Ricotti, Danny Cummings, Jimmy Maelen, Luis Jardim, and Ray Cooper.

  • Trumpet:

Frank Beach, Wayne Bergeron, Johnny Best, Chris Botti, Randy Brecker, Cecil Bridgewater, Bud Brisbois, Jon Faddis, Chuck Findley, Bernie Glow, Conrad Gozzo, Jerry Hey, Roger Ingram, Mark Isham, Manny Klein, Kye Palmer, Al Porcino, Shorty Rogers, Ernie Royal, Alan Rubin, Carl Saunders, Shorty Sherock, Bobby Shew, Lew Soloff, Marvin Stamm, Bill Stapleton, Allen Vizzutti, and Derek Watkins

  • Vocals:

Clare Torry The Ron Hicklin Singers, Patti Austin, Tony Burrows, Bill Champlin, Kacey Cisyk, Jeanette Clinger, Tommy Funderburk, Siedah Garrett, Carl Hall, Cissy Houston, Michael McDonald, Richard Page, Chris Rodriguez, Frank Simms, Bobby Tench Warren Wiebe, Jan Johnston, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Justine Suissa, Tiff Lacey, Andrea Britton, Kate Ryan, Miriam Stockley, The Blossoms, The Andantes, The Sweet Inspirations, The Originals, and The Waters (Julia, Luther, Maxine and Oren Waters).

  • Groups:

Munich Machine Booker T and the MGs; The Bar-Kays; The Funk Brothers; The Wrecking Crew; Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra; The Memphis Horns; The Nashville A-Team The Horny Horns; The Kick Horns; Atlanta Rhythm Section; Sly and Robbie; The Hodges Brothers; The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section; Toto.

Notes

External links

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Session musicians are instrumental and vocal performers who are available to work with others at live performances or recording sessions. Usually such musicians are not permanent members of a musical ensemble and often do not achieve fame in their own right. The term is applied not only to those working in contemporary musical styles such as rock, jazz, country, and pop but also classical music. Versatility is one of the most important skills of session musicians as they may have to perform in a range of different settings. Session musicians are also expected to learn parts rapidly and to be skilled in sight reading.

Session musicians are used in any situation where musical skills are needed on a short-term basis. Typically session musicians are used by recording studios to provide backing tracks for other musicians in recording studios and live performances; recording for advertising, film and television; or theatrical productions.

The terms "session musician" and "studio musician" are now synonymous, though in past decades the latter term more typically described musicians who were associated with a particular record company or recording studio.

History and associations

During the 1920s and 1930s most record companies had their own prolific "studio bands" turning out records of the latest pop hits. These were often made up by jazz and dance band musicians who were at the same time members of regular working bands and who divided their time between studio work (recordings as well as broadcasting) during the day and live performances in the evenings. Notable such "studio musicians" include Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Red Nichols, Miff Mole, Andy Sannella and Mike Mosiello.

Although session musicians have long and successful careers and can achieve considerable fame within the musical industry, they rarely achieve popular celebrity. Notable exceptions include the members of the band Toto who met in various recording sessions; John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, who were well known as session musicians before their later success with Led Zeppelin; keyboardist Rick Wakeman; and renown vocalists Valerie Simpson, Lisa Fischer and Luther Vandross.

Among the most prolific established studio musicians are The Wrecking Crew. Based in Los Angeles, the Wrecking Crew recorded innumerable songs and albums since the 1960s. Their bassist Carol Kaye is said to be the most recorded bassist of all time with 10,000 sessions spanning four decades[1], yet is largely unknown to the general public. Studio musicians dubbed the Funk Brothers were the driving force behind dozens of Motown hits.

A few session musicians have even built reputations of infamy: English session singer Tony Burrows had such a knack for appearing as a frontman for various one-hit wonder studio groups (such as Edison Lighthouse, The Flower Pot Men, The Pipkins, The Brotherhood of Man, White Plains and The First Class) in a short period of time (the early 1970s) that his attempts at a solo career under his own name were hampered, due in part to burnout.

Another well known group of session musicians is called The Nashville A-Team and is made up of A list studio musicians who recorded during the Nashville Sound era. Their contributions began in the 1950s with artists such as Elvis Presley. Some of these musicians are still alive today and the original A-Team includes, bassist Bob Moore, guitarists Grady Martin, Hank Garland, Ray Edenton and Harold Bradley, drummer Buddy Harman, pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins, fiddler Tommy Jackson, steel guitarist Pete Drake, harmonicist Charlie McCoy, saxophonist Boots Randolph, pianist Floyd Cramer, also vocal groups the Jordanaires and the Anita Kerr Singers. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section comprising Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and also known as The Swampers are also a well know group of session musicians. they have become known for the "Muscle Shoals Sound." Many of the recordings done in the Memphis area, which included Muscle Shoals, Alabama, used the The Memphis Horns in their arrangements. MFSB was a group of soul music studio musicians based in Philadelphia at the Sigma Sound Studios; they later went on to become a name-brand instrumental group, and their best known hit was TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), better known as the theme from Soul Train.

Notes

External links


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