Recording with Jeff Henderson

Jeff is always busy. He’s a sought after man.

He was just about to do live music for a show at Downstage Theatre in Wellington, then was heading to Europe for a few months to work on a ridiculous sounding street theatre venture. I had to grab him while I could.

Shortly after playing him (and Hermione and Piggy) the newly written/recorded songs for the fleaBITE album I invited Jeff to pop around to my house. We had already discussed the two songs that we thought would suit his energetic and vibrant saxophone style.

I hired a very, very long microphone cable to wind down the stairs from my top floor home studio to the more spacious and carpeted lounge below. Carpet is always good for recording as it helps absorb the sound (as opposed to it bouncing off bare walls and floor).

I set up the microphone so that Jeff would have spectacular views over Wellington harbour and let him go for it. Jeff’s specialty is improvising and he was in great form. We started off with the song ‘Thunder Box’. The first take he played along, trying out various ideas. He worked out what he wanted to do and I kept adding track after track as he played variations on that theme till we ended up with an intricately woven and uplifting sax section. We then repeated the process with ‘Insectercise’ with a only a short break between – enough time for me to fire up my espresso machine and keep him fuelled with coffee.

After a couple of hours going at a rate of knots we were both happy with Jeff’s fabulous and sometimes frenzied addition to both songs. I thought we were done for the day, but asked if he would like to hear the new song I’d been working on. It was a strange kind of tango about a Jellyfish Ball called ‘Medusa’.

Jeff, as usual, was very positive and then whipped out his clarinet. I thought he would be tired after recording solidly for the last couple of hours, but Jeff was keen to give it a go. We only had half an hour before he had to be at his next rehearsal but he played some weird and wonderful clarinet parts that gave me plenty to chose from later. Many thanks Jeff.

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