Producer's Desk: Tucker Martine

Jun 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson



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photo of Floratone

Floratone, clockwise from top left: Bill Frisell, Lee Townsend, Matt Chamberlain, and Tucker Martine.

Let’s end with Floratone. How do those albums come about? Obviously, you’re all busy doing other things. And how do you have two producers—you and Lee Townsend?
Matt [Chamberlain] was living in Seattle and I was getting to know him a bit and I roped him into a couple of things. I was such a fan of his playing and I knew he was a fan of Bill [Frisell’s], and I thought it would be cool to hear them together. Bill loved his playing, so it seemed like we were all sort of on the same page.

Bill was making a lot of sort of “documentarian” records—go in for three or four days with a group and document that. I was saying it would be fun to do a record that was a little more experimental in the studio. The premise is that we’re all making it together, and that will ensure that it doesn’t just fall into Bill writing some songs for us, which of course he could do. So Bill and Matt will improvise and I’ll record it and then Lee and I take everything and we go through it and we chop things up and move things around as needed. We also look for sections we can use without having to mess with them too much, but a lot of it is pretty cut-and-paste. So Lee and I will spend time doing that, and then Bill will write on top of those—like Eyvind Kang on viola and Ron Miles playing cornet and trumpet, so that gives it a more composed feeling. If you saw the sessions, it’s just thousands and thousands of slices.

I sometimes feel like when I hear it, it sounds like a nice tune by some great players and I think, “Man, did we take the hard way to get here, or what?” [Laughs] It’s weeks of chopping and editing. But it’s fun. Lee and I have a great time working together, and we have a lot of laughs. It’s a fun outlet for all of us and it can be whatever we want it to be.

Visit Tucker Martine's Flora Recording and Playback in Portland, Ore., at

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