New York, NY (January 26, 2022)—HEAR (Harris-Elff Audio Resources) co-founders John Harris and Jody Elff engineered the recording of CBS TV’s One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga last year, shortly before Bennett announced his retirement from live performances.
“We knew this would be a big show on so many levels — physically, mentally and historically,” says Harris. “We had to capture magic in a bottle.” The show was recorded in August 2021 over two sold-out performances at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
One Last Time executive producer and director Alex Coletti’s experience working with the HEAR duo goes back to Tony Bennett’s MTV Unplugged performance from 1994, which Harris engineered. The album resulting from that performance went on to win two Grammy Awards. More recently, Coletti has worked with Elff on the Words and Music podcast series for Audible.
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The show featured both artists backed by a full orchestra and their respective bands, which included two drummers, two bass players, two keyboard players, saxophone, trumpet and guitar. Harris and Elff, working with veteran engineer Al Centrella, also took pains to capture the energy of the sold-out crowd. “We were looking at 50 channels of orchestra, 60 channels of band and another 40 channels of audience and production elements,” Elff explains.
To handle the enormous track count, HEAR employed the capabilities of the NEP Group’s Gemini mobile audio truck. “It’s important to manage all that signal flow so that when we hand off that 150-channel Pro Tools session to the post production team, everything is where it needs to be in the timeline and it sounds good,” Elff says.
To keep tabs on the incoming audio while creating a production mix on the fly, Harris and Elff used Gemini’s dual control rooms to divide the labor. Elff handled the orchestral inputs on his console, delivering submixes to Harris in the forward control room, where Harris combined them with the band and vocals to create a working mix.
The final music mix was handled by award-winning mix engineer Dae Bennett, Tony Bennett’s son, who was also a producer on One Last Time. “Being raised by my father, quality was always the top issue, because quality is what lives on in art,” Bennett says. “As an engineer myself, it’s always hard to hand off a big chunk of a project to somebody else, so when I’m producing and mixing these shows, it’s great to have a team that you can trust. And John and Jody are top notch.”