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Producer Pat Thrall Remixes Miles Davis, Sly & the Family Stone

From left: Pat Thrall, drummer Vince Wilburn and bassist Charley Drayton.

Artist, engineer and producer Pat Thrall remixed classic recordings from the late ’60s of Miles Davis and Sly & the Family Stone, while carefully preserving the integrity of the original tracks. Complementing the original eight-track masters with overdubs by a host of current music artists, Thrall relies on Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip plug-in to insure that the old and the new recordings are correctly balanced in the remix.

On the remix of “It’s About That Time” from Miles Davis’ landmark 1969 album, In a Silent Way, Thrall engineered new contributions from drummer Vince Wilburn (Davis’ nephew and former band member) and bass player Charley Drayton. All three musicians co-produced the remix, which also includes overdubs by Carlos Santana and others. The remix is included on Miles Davis-Cool & Collected, which was released on Columbia/Legacy Jazz on September 5.

“ChannelStrip is basically my drum sound,” Thrall says. “I use it regularly over all the drums, and have for years. I bought it when it first came out. It’s really my primary plug-in for drums, and I’ve built up a lot of presets that I like to use.”

Thrall says that ChannelStrip’s six-band EQ helped him position Wilburn’s straight-ahead, funk drum pattern in the mix with original drummer Tony Williams’ busy jazz playing. “To find the space that would work for Vince’s drums, I had to make them brighter and smaller, so you could hear what Tony was playing. You couldn’t have one giant drum kit in that dense mix and then try and try to bring Tony on top of it.

“Another thing that I like using ChannelStrip for is filtering and sweep filtering. At the beginning of the track, Vince’s drums are filtered and start very bassy, then open up. That’s all ChannelStrip. And you’ve got six bands of parametric EQ, so you can really taper it and do some wacky stuff. The automation in ChannelStrip is fantastic, and so smooth.”

ChannelStrip was also applied to Davis’ trumpet track. “He was recorded beautifully. It didn’t need any corrective work,” Thrall says. “But because we got the track so dense I needed him to fit better. I compressed him a bit and notched out a couple of frequencies that were cutting a little hard through the mix. We added all these drum loops and sound effects. In the second half, where Carlos Santana has his guitar solo, there are all these African drummers, so the whole thing gets very dense.”

For the recently released Sly & the Family Stone remix collection, Different Strokes By Different Folks, Thrall worked with Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Chuck D, D’Angelo, Isaac Hayes, Steven Tyler and Robert Randolph on three remixes.

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