Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phil Ramone Grammy-Winning Producer/engineer Could Make Merely Good Artists Sound Great

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Phil Ramone Grammy-Winning Producer/engineer Could Make Merely Good Artists Sound Great

Article excerpt

That Phil Ramone was a musical force in the recording studio is undeniable, and the evidence lies in the range of his accomplishments. For example, within one three-year period in the early 1960s, Ramone mixed Lesley Gore's smash hit "It's My Party," recorded Marilyn Monroe seducing President John F. Kennedy in song on his birthday and engineered essential recordings by jazz innovators Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy.

Ramone, who died Saturday in his late 70s or early 80s, depending on sources, would have been only around 30 at the time.

The producer, engineer and sound innovator is best known for his work with Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel, but during more than a half-century behind the soundboard Ramone captured so many big moments that to merely list them is to do a disservice. He didn't just produce or engineer records. He put to tape cultural touchstones.

"Am I fussy? You bet," wrote Ramone in his 2007 biography, "Making Records," and the music world is a better place for it.

The whispered seduction of Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto for their "Getz / Gilberto" album, for example, helped introduce new Brazilian sounds to America. Ramone's velvet-covered mid-'60s work with Chet Baker in all his crooning glory sound recorded in a glorious cathedral. His work on Paul McCartney's "Ram" sounds fresh decades later.

Coltrane. Chicago. Elton John. Ray Charles. Aretha Franklin. Barry Manilow. Liza Minnelli. Harry Nilsson. James Taylor -- Ramone worked with them all.

The Starland Vocal Band's lusty "Afternoon Delight," Judy Collins' tear-jerking version of "Send in the Clowns" and Bob Dylan's epic "Idiot Wind" were all recorded by Ramone within a year of one another. His hallowed New York recording studio, A&R, captured for posterity essential music by, among others, Frank Sinatra, the Band and the Mamas and the Papas.

The vibe that connected them all: Ramone's adoring skill with sonic space. "Without echo, recordings sound tight, lifeless, and dull," he wrote in "Making Records," and that aesthetic draped much of his work.

From a critical perspective, the same could be said of many of the artists with whom he worked. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.