A Home for Jazz Richard Mcdonnell Built a Studio in His Living Room and Uses It to Record Local Musicians

By Toroian, Diane | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 13, 1997 | Go to article overview

A Home for Jazz Richard Mcdonnell Built a Studio in His Living Room and Uses It to Record Local Musicians


Toroian, Diane, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Along the walls of Richard McDonnell's suburban home are black-and-white portraits of the world's greatest jazz legends -- a spent, but luminescent Billie Holiday, a dreamy Stan Getz, a pensive John Coltrane, a menacing Miles Davis.

Yet McDonnell's favorite photo doesn't show a face, it documents a place and an era -- 52nd Street in Manhattan, back in 1948 -- a time when jazz clubs were as common and crowded as the fast food joints of today. McDonnell was taking his first steps when that photo was shot and it makes him crazy to think about the great music he missed.

"So many good notes that never got recorded," said McDonnell. It is McDonnell's mission to record those notes now and boost the St. Louis jazz scene. An investment banker by trade, a jazz lover by instinct, McDonnell has converted his southwest St. Louis County living room into a jazz studio where local musicians perform and record their work. The studio is fitted with top-of-the-line equipment and inc ludes a 1958 restored Ham mond organ, a grand piano, vintage Leslie speakers and an eight-track Yamaha recording system. "Jazz is largely improvisational and it's good for a musician to be documented over time. It's the evolution that's interesting," said McDonnell. Local jazz act Brilliant Corners just finished recording at McDon nell's house and Ray and Tom Ken nedy, St. Louis brothers who currently perform with jazz artists John Pizzarelli and Tania Maria respectively, rec ently reu nited to record there. Both albums will be released this spring and more recordings are planned. McDonnell ser ves as producer and will distribute the al bums, but the artists have creative autonomy. Brilliant Corners' guitarist Dave Black says McDon nell is as warm as the music he seeks to promote. "To put jazz on the map in St.

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