“Do you ever get the feeling that some days are quite
different to others”?
The concept of the CD came about from a period when we travelled and toured the world. Various field recordings and anecdotes were taken from our travels throughout Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia, some of which appear on the CD. Others to appear on this site. Watch this space!
“The movie for your ears”
The concept of the day is derived from our travels and experiences stated above, our aim is to give the listener a cinematic quality to the music and to quote a reviewer:
“Optimism to behold”!
When you get the chance to produce your own record, you are afforded certain luxuries that a commercial company would not necessarily grant you. We had been long time fans of Jan Erik Kongshaug's work for the ECM label, so when the opportunity came for him to mix the recordings in Oslo, we grabbed it with both hands. We feel the results are for all to hear.
The album was recorded in the UK at September Sound, RG Jones, Studio 99, Thraski's Kitchen and Metropolis.
Mixed at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway
by Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by First Light.
Listen to four tracks from Field Day:
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Ronnie Johnson's 'Field Day' track notes...
1. Winter's Tale
One of the tunes written for a New York project. It couldn’t be less New York, a personal favourite. Always reminded me of Miroslav Vitous, and early Chick Corea. Banks of the Thames, Northern Europe, nineteen again! Roy fantastic! Ian Winter of course. More laughing! The boys play well!
2. Field Day
Where did this one come from? Windsor I think and I’m pleased it did. More happy days with Roy from the music room in Datchet. Geoff inspirational on hilarious Berkshire jig!
4. Wherever you go
For our kids! Wayne Shorter-Norma Winstone & Bonnie Herman. Very much Uncle Frank prevails over the Sussex Downs. Allan Holdsworth for lending me ‘The Colours of Chloe’! Fluid Rustle-Eberhard Weber-Rhiga Royal- Star Café-Uptown Manhattan! Café Marlieve, Boston! Finally, a crappy hotel on the Copacabana. All sorts of weirdos hanging about!
Bulgaria-89! Folkloric, wonderful musicians- the last days of communism there. First realised at Abbey Road 90-back to the future for Alex Zogragov!! Phil worth the entrance money with the big line in the melody.
6. Over Land and Sea
San Francisco April 93-December 93. North beach Italian Restaurant… Michel Petrucianni! San Mateo Red- hear Charles Brown! Realised in Datchet one morning 95... Roy and I depressed, I started the chords on the Martin, Roy started playing the tune- we laughed ourselves stupid! Roy plays Lennie Tristano meets Floyd Kramer.
7. Onwards and Upwards
This one may well have started at Roy’s house at Kingston. I had the first part and Roy came up with the pedal section. Much later Roy rewrote the solo section. First played in Montreal, but really started to come together in Vancouver. Originally played at breakneck speed it’s still affectionately known to the boys as the “Quickstep”. Love playing this one. Great intro from Geoff.
8. Treading Water
Realised in New Malden circa 1988. Written as I recorded it on the Fostex in the dining room. Couldn’t convince Geoff at the time, but played the guys the demo before the R.G. Jones sessions and everyone loved it. The long walk at Windsor... Later on sitting at the bar of the Westminster Hotel in Le Touquet, listening to the playback on cans I look up to see a photograph of Miles Davis saying “ssshh”! It sums it all up...
10. Jump Ship
First Light opposite Curtis Mayfield at Ronnie Scott’s mid 80’s- Phil Mulford joins and hears it immediately, wears a handkerchief on his head whilst playing it! Leaving Van Morrison- optimism! More happy music….music as people see and hear First Light... Geoff exorcises us, as we sit on the roof of a limousine in Manhattan.. nicked.
11.That Song about Joan
La danse du Montreal, Lair du Temp, Beautiful waitresses sway to the ‘groove’. Short of music for our North American dates we wrote this at New Malden the Saturday morning before we left. I had a cheap 4 track cassette recorder on which I got the riff and melody, Roy came over and came up with the great chords on the bridge and the tune wrote itself. We never spoke too much about Joan, it just went without saying.
Originally written in the dining room in Datchet on a gut stringed Ovation. Recorded it with Midi guitar to catch Jonn Savannah. See if I can find the files for the site! Tee Hee!! For my soulmates. More from Thraski’s kitchen!
The Recording of Field Day
We had met engineer Mick Glossop when he recorded “A night in San Francisco” live album for Van Morrison. We were very impressed with his work and even more impressed that he’d mixed Frank Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage 1&2 “ album. A benchmark recording by any standards. We spent many a night in San Francisco bars picking Mick’s brains about Zappa and his techniques.
Consequently when it came to recording the group the first person to come to mind was Mick. We wanted to record all the instruments live and after our experience with him recording Geoff and myself in California, and other Morrison records it seemed natural to ask him.
Mick came to a concert and we then decided to look for a studio to work in. We eventually agreed to September Sound at Richmond Lock, part of Pete Townsend’s complex.
Mick wanted to record certain instruments to different recording formats. i.e. drums and guitars to analogue tape, piano and other instruments digitally. Roy Shipston hired a Steinway grand for the sessions. Mick had just got the‘Pro Tools’ hard disc recording system, and was anxious to incorporate it. This meant that we would be using three different formats to record with.
We took three days at September Sound and had a variety of problems during the sessions. The analogue tape hadn’t arrived from the distributor, and the power supply for the Dolby SR systems broke. This put us somewhat back, but eventually all the formats were available for the last day. We were then left with three formats, and one of which was ‘Pro Tools’, the problem being that we didn’t have access to unless Mick was around.
We moved on to Studio 99 in Greenwich, which belongs to Mike Westerguard. Mike was a member of “The Blessing” a favourite group of ours whom Geoff and myself had also recorded with. One of Geoff’s friends pilot David Arkell had ‘Pro Tools’ and very kindly lent it to us for the sessions. Geoff and Mick Glossop had transferred the information onto disc and we were able to continue the project. In the meantime more music had been written and we were anxious to record.
We went to ‘RG Jones’ studio in Wimbledon, where they had the added bonus of a beautiful Steinway piano, So armed with more 24track analogue tape, we recorded some very fruitful sessions with engineer Gerry Kitchingham.
Subsequently after this session we decided that the only way to go was one format, and Geoff invested in a ‘Pro Tools’ system.
He then went to Manfred Mann’s Workhouse studio with engineer Ian Tompson, to transfer all the analogue information to one digital format.
Recordings and editing were then completed at ‘Thraski’s Kitchen” in Wimbledon.
We then decided to re-record the track “Sofia” as we weren’t happy with the instrumentation on the original. We contacted Matt Lawrence, whom we had known from Van Morrison’s “The Woolhall” studio, were he had spent his early years assisting Mick Glossop on a number of Morrison albums that Geoff and I had been involved with. Matt was now studio manager at Metropolis studios on London, and off we went to record with Matt engineering.
In the meantime there were hours of what we were to term ‘Field recordings’ that had been taken from our travels over the last few years to edit. A lot of these didn’t make the album but will resurface at another time.
Recording complete we were faced with the million-dollar question, whom are we going to get to mix it?
We had long been admirers of Jan Eric Kongshaug’s work for artists such as Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Eberhard Weber, Jan Garbarek etc, and during a trip to Oslo Geoff paid him a visit at his studio to ask of the possibility of him being able to mix the album. We were all absolutely delighted when agreed to take on the project.