Octave Records just issued its latest release on March 5: its first jazz album, Say Somethin’ by trumpet player Gabriel Mervine. The album of originals and standards was recorded live with no overdubbing on the Sonoma pure DSD recording system by Mervine and his quartet, to capture the spontaneity and interplay between the musicians with stunning fidelity and realism.
Gabriel Mervine began his professional career at age 13. He’s a member of the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra and has worked with Natalie Cole, Christian McBride, Terence Blanchard, the Temptations, the Who, Fred Wesley and many others. On Say Somethin’ he’s joined by Tom Amend (piano), Seth Lewis (upright bass) and Alejandro Castaño (drums) The music ranges from the upbeat grooves of the title track, “1964” and “Furor” to more contemplative songs like “Friends” and the quartet’s cover of “A Foggy Day.”
Say Somethin’ is available as a hybrid stereo SACD disc that is playable on any SACD, CD, DVD, or Blu-ray player. It also has a high-resolution DSD layer that is accessible only using a PS Audio SACD transport, or by copying the DSD tracks on the included DVD data discs. In addition, the master DSD and PCM files are available for purchase and download from this link.
Gabriel noted, “It’s been such a trying year and our goal in making Say Somethin’ was to play music that would bring people some peace of mind, while striking a good balance between simple and complex.”
The album was recorded at Animal Lane in Lyons, Colorado, one of the world’s few 32-track Sonoma recording studios. The sessions were done live with no overdubs on the Sonoma pure DSD system and mixed using a vintage Euphonix analog console, then brought back into the Sonoma system. The album was produced and engineered by Steve Vidaic.
Gabriel’s Bach Stradivarius trumpet with 3C Bach mouthpiece was recorded using Neumann M49 cardioid and Royer 122 ribbon mics to capture all nuance and warmth of his playing. The piano, bass and drums where recorded using the most suitable, highest-fidelity mics for each instrument, from a vintage RCA 44BX ribbon and DPA 4009 omnidirectional mics for the piano to a rare Tim De Paravicini-modified AKG C24 stereo microphone used as the overhead drum mic. Other equipment used in the production of the album includes Forsell, Grace and Soundelux microphone preamps and Warm Audio WA76 and Teletronix LA2A limiters.
The result is a recording of remarkable clarity, presence, spaciousness and wide dynamic range, all captured live as it happened.
Say Somethin’ is available as a limited-edition release of 1,000 hybrid SACD discs, or as a download bundle including DSD64, DSDDirect Mastered 192kHz/24-bit, 96kHz/24-bit and 44.1kHz/24-bit PCM formats.
I talked with Gabriel about his musical influences, his goals in making Say Somethin’, and more.
Frank Doris: What inspired you to start playing trumpet?
Gabriel Mervine: I got interested in music at a pretty young age. The drums first caught my ear. But by the time I joined a middle school band program, the band director said, “hey, we’ve got too many folks playing drums.” I got tossed a trumpet, and to be honest, I really wasn’t into the horn. But a couple of years prior to that, I couldn’t think of what to be for Halloween. And my mother put me in her old marching band uniform. I walked around with a bugle and learned how to form the embouchure for a trumpet. Our middle school jazz band was really good and a lot of fun and our band director was a huge mentor. So, he was a large part of the reason I ended up doing what I do for a living.
FD: In the album liner notes, you note that you have this old mouthpiece that you’ve used for a long time.
GM: When I was in my twenties, I was on the road and always hearing other trumpet players or seeing ads online for a new horn, a new mouthpiece. And you get into this never ending quest. After going seemingly full circle, ordering custom mouthpieces and custom trumpets, I reached a point where I pulled out my first horn and this mouthpiece a friend had given me when I was in college. And I was just like, man, this feels great. It got me to thinking, maybe I should just focus on me and not on constantly trying to find the perfect instrument.
FD: What was it like to record this album?
GM: it’s been such a trying year, and I was kind of just feeling uninspired creatively. A friend, Brianna Harris, got me connected with Octave Records, and they just said, “there’s a room set up here and we’d love to have you,” and all of a sudden I just started writing again. I tried to write music that struck a balance between interesting compositions, but was easy enough that we would just be able to get together and play after having been on lockdown. Once we got together, Tom, Seth and Alejandro just totally stepped up everything.
On a couple of the tunes we did a few takes just to get it right. But the second take was usually the one. This was the first album I’ve done where there are no overdubs at all. Nothing’s been edited in any way.
FD: It has that feel of the 1950s and 1960s Blue Note albums where everyone just got in the room and played.
GM: It felt so good to just be in a room playing music with other musicians. It was something I hadn’t gotten to do much of, because everything has been closed. it was a really cathartic experience.I strayed a little bit from the original goal of what kind of music to put on the record, but to be honest, it had been such a stressful year and I kept finding myself listening to classical piano and the Oscar Peterson Trio and stuff that’s really soothing. Music that brings some peace of mind was my goal in making the album, although there are some high-energy and more explorative cuts as well.
FD: Who are some of your other influences?
GM: Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Roy Hargrove, and of course, you can’t get around Miles Davis. But I’ve been playing music for a living as a freelancer since I was 20, which means I do some jazz work, pop, classical, Latin, and a lot of funk music from the seventies. It all kind of really got up in my head.Sometimes I think, “what enables me to play this instrument for a living?” It’s the fact that you get a tone that people want to hear.
FD: What advice would you have for up and coming musicians?
GM: Number one, just find ways of loving it; find the part that you enjoy and grow from there. Almost every day, I’m excited to practice trumpet because it’s always a journey of growth. Music is like this constant mirror. Maybe art and expression are constant mirrors of self-awareness that we’re always looking into.
Also, go out and be a part of the music community. I would hear bands, [get to know the people in them] and go home and check out their albums or the cover music they were playing. The next time I’d come to their gig I’d ask if I could sit in. When it came time came for them to hire a horn player, I would be fortunate enough to get the call, because they’d heard me and gotten to know me. I never did it in a hustling, business kind of way. I just wanted to learn and be part of the scene. But eventually the calls started coming in.