Monthly Archives: July 2013

Big Fish Comes to Broadway

I’ll grab a quick couple of days at the shore before returning to Big Fish for its final changes as it approaches its Broadway opening.  Starring Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert, directed & choreographed by Susan Stroman.

So happy to be working again with composer/lyricist orchestrator Andrew Lippa, as we race toward the deadline of September 5 (1st NY preview) and October 6 (opening night) at the Neil Simon Theater.  My previous collaboration with Andrew was The Addams Family, which currently plays in South America, and I first worked with Ms. Stroman on our beloved The Scottsboro Boys.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have 3 shows running simultaneously.  Big Fish joins the current hit Pippin, and The Book of Mormon is in its 3rd year.


New Wonder Pets Episode

This morning was the premiere of a special half-hour episode of THE WONDER PETS! on Nickelodeon.

“In The Land Of Oz”  is the first new episode in over a year! The guest stars: Brooke Shields, Tim Curry, Kenan Thompson and Jim Breuer. Composed by — well, me. Orchestration by David Siegel.

So great to welcome back the world-famous Linny, Tuck and Ming-Ming too.

Trackslayer – My Dream Project

In The Beginning

When I was 12 years old, I had been playing piano for 7 years and had taught myself guitar. But my favorite thing to do was to make home recordings of my guitar and voice and play them back while playing and singing harmony.

Fast forward a couple of decades – though I’ve now worked for years as an arranger, orchestrator, and composer, I still love making my own recordings to play and sing to – my virtual band.

A couple of years ago I had the idea that there must be many musicians and singers that want this experience as well.  Karaoke is proof of that, and yet, Karaoke is made pretty much for the lead singer. Why can’t we have recordings that allow us to mute the bass guitar, or the middle vocal, or drums? Or any combination?

So I dreamed up TrackSlayer, a music website for singers, musicians and music lovers, where a user can load a song into an on-screen multi-channel mixer and dial in or out any vocal, any instrument, and play or sing along.

Finding Isolated Tracks

There are thousands of songs that I love.  But I had to start somewhere. My favorite pop songs are the Beatles catalog.  And that catalog still intrigues and delights musicians and singers throughout the world.

I’d love to have the original Beatles recordings and dial out John’s voice and sing with Paul. Or play the Harrison guitar parts myself, or sing the middle background vocal. And I’ve seen that many people are interested in obtaining those isolated tracks.

The problem is that a complete breakdown of these recording does not exist. Their earliest songs were recorded on 2-track. Starting with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the recordings were 4-track, and that format lasted even through the Sgt. Pepper era.

I’m impressed with the Mogg files (aka the audio files included in the Beatles Rock Band video game), where more of the instruments have been electronically extracted. But there is a compromise of the audio quality, and still there is not a complete separation of all instruments and vocals.

A typical example of the Rock Band Mogg files is “Ticket to Ride,” where all 3 guitars share one track. On “Drive My Car,” all 3 vocals share one track. The good news is that the bass and drums, for instance, might be separate.  The bad news is that the guitars are still grouped together, as are the vocals.

The Dream Is Born

Because a complete breakdown of these recording does not exist, I’ve attempted to do the next best thing – make new recordings of my favorite songs, with complete instrumental and vocal separation.

I teamed up with the best musicians and singers – members of Beatlemania and other tribute bands (Lenie Colacino, Joe Pecorino, Jim Filgate) and studio musicians (Damien Bassman, Charlie Pillow, Alden Banta, David Peel) – and joined with world-class engineer Dave Darlington to re-create some of these songs.  More about our recording sessions to come.

Now, after spending many months working on the project, we’re nearly ready to launch the TrackSlayer BETA Test.  If you’d like to join in this most unique musical experience (there’s still time to sign up) head on over to

Say "cheese"

DSC00356 LH sonic closeIMG_8740 Rick 12 w JimIMG_8841 vocal musicDSC00327 protools 2DSC00353 guitaristsIMG_1082 The Band, posed

New Arrangements for Mariah Carey and the New York Philharmonic

If we don’t get rained out — Tonight’s concert in Central Park  will include my  commissioned arrangement of “New York, New York,” with the New York Philharmonic.  I also arranged one of the songs that Mariah Carey will perform with the Phil.  Last night’s rehearsal was rained out! But Mariah and the Phil will perform without a rehearsal if the rain holds out!

Other works on the program include my friend Brad Dechter’s arrangements for Mariah, and the premiere of a suite from a truly great film score of “42,” composed by my new friend Mark Isham, also orchestrated by Brad.

The concert is co-sponsored by the NY Phil and the Baseball Commission (in honor of All-Star Week), as a benefit for Sandy Relief.