John Lee Hooker Jr.'s "Cold As Ice"

Jul 1, 2006 12:00 PM, By Jeff Forlenza



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John Lee Hooker Jr. (left) and producer/keyboardist Will “Roc” Griffin during the mix of Cold as Ice.

John Lee Hooker Jr. and keyboardist/producer Will “Roc” Griffin were at Pajama Recording Studios in Oakland, Calif., recording and mixing Hooker Jr.'s Cold As Ice album, which was released last month on Telarc International. Pajama owner Jim Gardiner engineered the sessions, and Griffin and Hooker Jr. co-produced.

Though his father popularized Delta blues music, John Lee Hooker Jr. has his own blues style and distinctive voice. He calls his music “current event blues.” He sings about everything from Internet dating to text messaging to chat rooms. Stylistically, the music is a blend of blues, R&B, funk, jazz and hip hop. The musicianship on the album is excellent, with tasty horn arrangements accentuating Hooker Jr.'s vocals. Sonically, the album is well-produced and powerful.

“We recorded a blues album, but we wanted it to be hip,” Gardiner says of the songs on Cold As Ice. “Our goal was to make it as traditional as possible, but also to reach a younger audience. Being in Oakland, there's a real emphasis on sonically powerful music. You know, real tight and hitting.”

Gardiner used Pajama's Otari Series 54 console with API EQs, a combination of Cubase and Pro Tools DAWs, and two Alesis HD24 digital recorders to track and mix the project. Gardiner reveals one of his secrets for getting such a great drum sound on the album: He judiciously used Wavemachine Labs' Drumagog, a drum replacement plug-in that has a vast array of custom drum samples, to enhance the live drum tracks performed by Michael Skinner and Michael Rogers. Gardiner supplied 24-bit CD-ROM masters to Telarc International, where the project was mastered.

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