Category Archives: Making music

I’ll write about my creative process – how a riff or chord progression can develop into a song and how I’ll arrange the music. I’ll write about the the recording and mixing sessions and all the related work that is needed before it’s ready for release.

David Garfield, Steve Ferrone, Soren Reiff & Will Lee in the studio recording Funky Mama - for Soren Reiffs Miss You album

Writing music – Funky Mama

Here’s the story about how I was writing music without being aware of it – unfortunately I think it happens often for a lot of people who writes music. As a little “bonus” you can read why the title “Funky Mama” is appropriate for this specific song I’ll use for this story. It’s always tricky to find titles for instrumental tunes 🙂

Writing music – writing Funky Mama

I was visiting my parents, staying at their house for the weekend. As I’ve written earlier I always bring my guitar for holidays. When I arrived we had some nice food, some good wine and talked a lot. The day after we all sat in the living room, doing whatever we liked to relax. Mom was reading a book in her favorite chair, dad was looking thru some art books. I was just jamming around on my guitar.

After a while I decided to make some coffee. Dad was still reading and mom was doing their laundries. While I was in the kitchen I heard her whistle a catchy phrase. I thought I knew it from somewhere but couldn’t decide from where. After a while it started to annoy me that I couldn’t name or categorise her tune. I went to her and asked – “what’s that you’re whistling … it sounds familiar?”. My mom laughed and told me that it was what I have been playing in the living room a little earlier.

Back in the living room I picked up my guitar. Within seconds I realised that she was right – it was the “theme” I’ve been jamming around for some time. I decided to record a memo in my phone. Good decision. Just a few weeks later the tune was added to my bands setlist.

When I was jamming in my parents living room I wasn't aware of I was writing music ... and didn't knew I would be recording the tune shortly after with some outstanding musicians. Here we are - David Garfield, Steve Ferrone, me & Will Lee in the studio recording Funky Mama, for the Miss you album

From the session for my second album Miss You – David Garfield, Steve Ferrone, me & Will Lee recording Funky Mama.

Writing music without being aware of it

I had been writing music and composed a complete song without being aware of it. It would have been forgotten, if my mom hadn’t started to whistle the theme. After this experience I record almost everything I jam over for more than a few minuttes. Therefore I’ll suggest that you also remember to record whatever you’re jamming around with. You’ll never know when something interesting is showing up.

And a little fun fact: neither my mom or I was aware of the odd meter within the song. There’s a 5/4 bar in the middle of the A-part. I realised that when I introduced the tune to the band, and the drummer had to hear it twice to figure out what was going on 🙂

From the recording of Funky Mama to the US Tv Show Studio Jams

From the recording of Funky Mama to the US Tv Show Studio Jams

Later on I have even recorded the song on my second album. I also ended up jamming the tune on the American TV-show Studio Jams – you can see that part from the episode here. All this just because my mama caught the riff and started to whistle while she walking around fixing some things.

Have a wonderful day

Soren

You can read about how we recorded that tune for the TV-show Studio Jams here and watch that part from the episode here.

Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

Powerfull percussion by Michito Sanchez

From time to time, I have had the pleasure of playing with Michito Sanchez in different constellations with David Garfield. No matter what repertoire we played, no matter what style, Michito has always lifted the music to another level.

Powerfull percussion by Michito Sanchez on the Gratitude album

Michito is unique – always coming up with tons of great ideas in the studio and always meeting you with a big smile and very positive attitude.

Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

I was so lucky to have Michito playing on my second album “Miss you” – actually that was the very first time I worked with him in the studio. Since then I’ve use Michito on soundtracks for TV or commercials. He has a killer pocket and he always has tons of percussion lined up. You are sure to get, not only a tight and groovy shaker, but also the exact type of shaker you need for the specific track. Michito has added so much gold to my music, no matter what style and what weird wishes I had for parts.
Beside his “basic” tracks – for instance congas, shaker or tambourine, I always get him to record a “toy track”. Continue reading

David Garfield & Soren Reiff

How I met David Garfield

It’s more than 10 years ago since I played with David Garfield for the first time – and I still remember clearly how it felt like “home” when he started playing the intro to the very first tune we played together. 

This is the story about how I met David Garfield and Henrik Enqvist

Garfield and I were hired by the Danish drummer Henrik Engqvist for a tour playing a mix of Engqvist’s repetoire and Garfield’s songs. I hadn’t met neither Henrik nor David before and I felt very honored to be asked to play this tour since Henrik had used Robben Ford and Frank Gambale for earlier tours with his band. And to play with David Garfield, who had the bands Los Lobotomys, Karizma and worked as M.D. for George Benson and Natalie Cole, would be awesome. Henrik knew Garfield from L.A. where they had met a couple of years earlier. Henrik often is in L.A. to work with a lot of A-listers over there.

David Garfield, Soren Reiff together with Henrik Engqvist orc, Kenneth Bremer and Niels Estrup

David Garfield, Soren Reiff together with Henrik Engqvist orc, Kenneth Bremer and Niels Estrup

The first time we all met was around noon to rehearse for the first show the same night. Henrik had just picked David up at the airport. David handled out his music sheets, sat down at the piano and started to play the song “Donna”. I instantly felt like I’ve known David and that song for years. The way David voiced the chords and his groove made me feel so good – I felt like returning back home after a long trip abroad.

That tour ended up being very important to me – I got so inspired from the shows we did. I had so much fun since I was allowed to stretch out during a lot of long solos, and we never played a song the same way twice. David really knows how to inspire.

David Garfield & Soren Reiff during sound check with Henrik Engqvist and bass player Kim in the back

David Garfield & Soren Reiff during sound check with Henrik Engqvist and bass player Kim in the back

During the final concert we played on that tour, I felt so sad about “this was it”. I knew I had to do something about it. So it was actually that night I decided to make an album with my own music. That let me to do the “Funky Flavas” album – and after that the “Miss You” and “Gratitude” album.

Since we met for the first time I have had the pleasure to play with Henrik again several times. We did an episode of “Studiojams” together in Copenhagen some years ago and I’ve also played together with Henrik and Jimmy Haslip, Jeff Richman and Russell Ferrante, when they have been in Scandinavia – always a pleasure and great fun! And I’ve played with Garfield in many different constellations both live and in the studio – always fantastic and very very inspiring.

So – thank you Henrik for asking me back then, I’m very thankful for that!! Henrik has recently released a new album “Engqvisition”- check it out here! And thank you David for your friendship and for always being so inspiring – it’s a blast knowing you and playing with you.

All the very best

Soren

Kim S. Hansen on Soren Reiff Gratitude album

Killer keyboard parts by Kim S. Hansen

I have written about Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip and how they contributed to the Gratitude album. Today I’ll introduce you to the very talented keyboard player Kim S. Hansen – I’m feel very privileged to have him playing on my album.

Killer keyboard parts by Kim S. Hansen on the Gratitude album

Kim is actually Danish-born but has lived in L.A. since the nineties. He is Musical Director for Patti Austin and has played with Phil Perry, Paul Jackson jr. and many more. (While we did the recordings for the Gratitude album), Kim had to take some weeks off from my sessions to go to South Africa and tour with guitar ace Earl Klugh … cool).

Keyboard player Kim S. Hansen is also playing on the new Soren Reiff album Gratitude

Kim S. Hansen live with Earl Klugh

Back in the nineties Kim and I played together every once I a while, and we did a lot of the same types of gigs and sessions: Playing in different house bands and so on. After many years in that line of work, we both wanted to do something different. Continue reading

Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip recording for the Gratitude album with Soren Reiff

Awesome drums by Gary Novak

Like I mentioned the other day – I have written about my workflow and how I arrange a song. Today, we’ll stay on the track of the real deal – recording drums. I’ll introduce you to world class drummer Gary Novak – the nicest hang with a killer pocket.

I feel extremely blessed because I’ve had the pleasure to play with some of the best drummers in the world: Steve Ferrone, Gregg Bissonette, Chad Wackerman, the late Ricky Lawson and more – yes I’m spoiled – and I’m so happy and proud to be able to add Gary Novak to that list!

Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip recording for the Gratitude album with Soren Reiff

Engineer Stig Kaufmanas, Soren Reiff, Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip in the studio

Groovy drums by Gary Novak on the Gratitude album

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Jimmy Haslip is digging deep on Gratitude

Earlier I’ve written about my workflow when developing an idea into a tune or how I work when I’m arranging a song by making demos. This is about recording bass and about the recording session with the awesome Jimmy Haslip for my Gratitude album.

I have had the pleasure to work with many outstanding bass players – Will Lee, John Peña and Mark King, all unique players. Here I’ll tell you about some of my work with Jimmy Haslip – a living legend.

Many years ago I saw Jimmy Haslip’s name for the first time on the album “Mirage a trois” by the band Yellow Jackets. Continue reading

Soren Reiff - album release - Gratitude

Releasing an album

Releasing an album

Yesterday my third album – Gratitude – was released. I’m happy, excited, proud, nervous. I have tons of feelings and thoughts running thru me and I can’t sit still for more than a few minutes, before I have to do something to distract my thoughts – I guess you can imagine how it is.

I’ve been working on this album for several years on and off. Actually did I write some of the tracks many years ago, while some of the tunes are totally new, also to me … at least kind of new, after working with them for some time.

When I make an album a lot of things go around in circles.

Continue reading

Mattias Bylund, Jannik Jensen, Pontus Engborg, Tracy Silverman & Soren Reiff

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 5

I’ve written about the length of the song and the style. I’ve also written about challenges for band members and tempo changes. Now it’s about time to wrap it all up with a few more thoughts about guest appearances. Thes thoughts might be obvious for some … not everybody.

Last but not least

When you do a guest appearance with a house-band it’s important you know the song you’re singing well. The better you you know the song the more you can assist the band by leading and cueing. If something goes wrong during the concert, you’ll be more on top of what happens the more you know the song.

Conversely, if you do not feel particularly well and relaxed about any of the songs you have chosen, my advice would be to go with the simplest. When the band have the possibility to focus on other things rather than just getting thru, surviving the parts that require virtuosity, they will give you much better backing and that will lead you to a good overall performance. A performance where you will appear absolutely the best and seem more convincing.

Mattias Bylund, Jannik Jensen, Pontus Engborg, Tracy Silverman & Soren Reiff, outside Svenska Grammofon Studion, Gothenburg, Sweden

Some years ago I did a guest appearance on the America TV format “Studio jams” … actually we all did – and we all showed up with open minds and a positive attitude

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Soren Reiff and Will Lee playing together at the Copehagen Jazz festival

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 4

I’ve written about some thoughts concerning the length of the song and I’ve written about the style and what can happen if the material ask for a lot of virtuosity from a band member, when you do a guest appearance with a house-band. Today I’ll write about tempo changes and how you can prepare your guest appearance.

Tempo changes

Just like some of the other issues I’ve written about, this might not seem like a problem for a person who knows the song well. But it can be … for a whole band, that hasn’t heard your way of going from one part to the other, and who don’t know all their parts by heart, it can be a challenge … Of course everybody will do their best, but if you add eventualities, such as bad monitors, and the fact that the band might have played 10 or 15 songs after your 10 minute rehearsal and before you are playing together again at the concert. Then tempo changes and giant medleys of songs that only you have known for years are a big challenge … At least if you only have one or two play-thru’s at the rehearsals many hours before you do the show.

It was a kind of a guest appearance together with Will Lee, when we played with David Garfield at the Copenhagen Jazz Festvial some years ago ... great fun

I did a kind of guest appearance together with Will Lee, when we played with David Garfield at the Copenhagen Jazz Festvial some years ago … great fun

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Julie Berthelsen performing with Soren Reiff and his orchestra

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 3

Other things that can cause problems

Yesterday I wrote about the style of the song you will perform with. What other things can cause problems for the musicians individually or the whole band when you are about to do a guest appearance with a house-band?

Maybe you know a certain song where you will shine brilliantly, but it might not be the right choice if the overall result isn’t top notch. A song that seems simple and straight forward to you, is not necessarily easy for everyone. An Icelandic or Faroese folk song that exists only on a sheet of music without bar-lines and proper notation, since it never has been sung in time, is almost impossible for a Danish or American musician to feel comfortable with within ten minutes, since the style and the sound just isn’t what we have grown up with. Or if the foundation for your entire song a fast harp-run, an advanced pedal-steel-country-guitar, or a super advanced programmed drum groove, you might want to consider having an alternate song as a back up, which could sound great the first time thru, played by a regular combo.

A photo from the rehearsals to a TV show - Julie Berthelsen played with me and my band, when she did a "Guest appearance with a house-band" in the program "Danmarksindsamlingen"

A photo from the rehearsals to a TV show – Julie Berthelsen played with me and my band, when she did a “guest performance with a house-band” in the program “Danmarksindsamlingen”

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