- Session musician
Session musicians are musicians available for hire, as opposed to musicians who are either permanent members of a musical outfit or who have acquired fame in their own right. Although the term generally refers to musicians skilled in contemporary musical styles such as rock,
jazz, country, pop, etc., it can also be used to describe musicians from classical and other traditional styles.
Terms and usage
Though the terms "session musician" and "studio musician" are often used interchangeably, the latter is sometimes reserved for those who work exclusively in
recording studios, sometimes for a single studio or record company.
Versatility is one of the most important traits of the session musician. Most session players must be able to form "teams" working on projects, and sometimes the musicians not only come from different backgrounds, but are completely unfamiliar with one another. Guitarist
Greg Howestated in an interview once, "If musicians are the athletes, the session cats are the Olympic hopefuls". [ [http://www.greghowe.com] ]
Session musicians are used in any situation where musical skills are needed on a short-term basis, ranging from a few hours to many months. Typical uses of session musicians are:
*In a recording studio to provide backing for
advertising, filmand televisionmusic
*To provide instrumental or vocal backing for established solo artists or groups, both in the studio and in concerts and appearances
*To act as temporary replacements for permanent members of a band or ensemble
*To provide additional instruments or vocals when needed by a band or ensemble
*In ensembles for theatrical productions
The following are usually not regarded as session musicians:
* Solo musicians or ensembles (without recording contracts) who give public or private performances for hire by themselves, such as
wedding singers or bar bands
* Amateur musicians
* Full-time members of professional ensembles, such as
Instead, session musicians perform with (and are hired by, or on behalf of) some other musical act or artistic production. Apart from being highly competent at their instruments, skilled session musicians are also expected to learn parts rapidly, and to play music by sight (reading directly from the musical score).
The above definitions do not always apply to earlier times. For example, 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.
Notable session musicians
Although session musicians have long and successful careers, and can achieve considerable fame within the musical industry, they do not usually achieve popular celebrity.
Notable exceptions include the members of the band Toto, formed by a group of regular studio musicians in
Los Angeles; John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, who were well known as session musicians before their later success with Led Zeppelin; keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who started his career as a session musician before becoming a member of popular progressive rockband Yes; R&B singer-songwriters Valerie Simpson(half of the Motown writing and singing duo, Ashford & Simpson), Lisa Fischer, and Luther Vandrosswho each spent many years as top session vocalists based in New York City. Carol Kayeis the most recorded bassist of all time with 10,000 sessions spanning four decades, according to the Berklee College of Music. [cite web|url=http://www.berklee.edu/opi/2000/1018.html|title=Berklee Welcomes Legendary Studio Bassist Carol Kaye|author = Berklee College of Music
2000-10-18|accessdate = 2007-03-13|quote = Kaye is the most recorded bassist of all time, with 10,000 sessions spanning four decades.] The 1954 recording session for the epochial " Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and his Cometsfeatured several session musicians, most notably guitarist Danny Cedrone, who performed the song's trademark guitar solo.
Other notable session musicians include:
John JR Robinson, Kenny Aronoff, Gregg Bissonette, Hal Blaine, Jan Axel Blomberg, Clem Cattini, Brendan Buckley, Matt Chamberlain, Dennis Chambers, Gary Chester, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mickey Curry, Josh Freese, Steve Gadd, Winston Grennan,
Buddy Harman, Roger Hawkins, Al Jackson, Jr.,
Jim Keltner, Abraham Laboriel Jr., Paul Leim, Nate Morton, Simon Phillips, Jeff Porcaro, Bernard Purdie, Tony Thompson, Joey Waronker, Ryan Hoyle, Phil Collins,and Dave Weckl.
Neil Stubenhaus, James Alexander, Bob Babbitt, Wilbur Bascomb, 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,
Tony Levin, Joe Long, Marcus Miller, Bob Moore, Joe Osborn, Pino Palladino,
Wojciech Pilichowski, Guy Pratt, Chuck Rainey, Tommy Sims, and Leland Sklar.
Duane Allman, Pete Anderson, James Burton, Larry Carlton, Bernie Chiaravalle, Ry Cooder, Steve Cropper, Hank Garland, Andrew Gold, Jay Graydon, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, Dann Huff, Michael Landau, Sonny Landreth,
Steve "Luke" Lukather,
Jim McGorman, Scotty Moore, Rafael Moreira,
Matt "Guitar" Murphy,
Jimmy Page, Lee Ritenour, Nile Rodgers,
Earl "Chinna" Smith, Hubert Sumlin, Tommy Tedesco, Daryl Stuermer, and Reggie Young.
Ray Chew, David Foster, Steve George, Don Grolnick, David Garfield, Nicky Hopkins,
Booker T. Jones,
John Paul Jones,
Bradley Joseph, Larry Knechtel, Chuck Leavell, Jim McGorman, Michael McDonald, Paul Mirkovich, Spooner Oldham, Charlie Peacock, Greg Phillinganes, Steve Porcaro, Billy Preston, Ike Turner, and Carson Whitsett.
Alex Acuna, Paulinho Da Costa,Luis Conte, Michael G. Fisher, Steve Schaeffer,Bashiri Johnson, Frank Ricotti, Danny Cummings, Jimmy Maelen, Luis Jardim, Ray Cooper,Pandit Dinesh.
Patti Austin, Tony Burrows, Bill Champlin, Kacey Cisyk, Jeanette Clinger, Tommy Funderburk, Siedah Garrett, Carl Hall, Cissy Houston, Michael McDonald,
Chris Rodriguez, Frank Simms, Warren Wiebe, Vera Ostrova, Jan Johnston, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Justine Suissa, Tiff Lacey, Andrea Britton, Kate Ryan, Elles De Graaf, Audrey Gallagher, and Miriam Stockley.
Booker T and the MGs; The Funk Brothers;
The Wrecking Crew;
The Memphis Horns; The Horny Horns; The Kick Horns; Atlanta Rhythm Section; Sly and Robbie; The Hodges Brothers; The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section;and Toto.
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