Past the scrub-clad actors smoking cigarettes outside Kaufman Astoria Studios, down the elevator and through the building’s several dark hallways lit by the occasional illuminated display of costumes, is the KAS Music & Sound studio, where Queens College students are recording an album.
Twenty musicians from the Aaron Copland School of Music at QC came to Kaufman Astoria Studios’ music branch last Wednesday and Thursday to play background for stars of the German music scene.
“He signed 100 autographs just walking around Times Square,” QC Director of Jazz Studies Michael Philip Mossman said of Roberto Blanco, one of the singers the students jammed with on Wednesday.
Detlef Engelhard, an orchestra leader at Termidor Musikverlag/German Radio, flew across the Atlantic to work with these accomplished students as well as Joe Gallardo, a retired lead trombone from the Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra who composed two of the recorded songs, “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “Hotel Shanghai.”
Drew Coles, a public school teacher studying for his masters at QC’s School of Music said, “Recording in the studio allows for a different level of play.”
Mossman said opportunities like this allow academia to meet the professional world.
Adding that you need both of these halves to succeed in the music industry, Mossman said, professionals are hired at QC to teach and other professionals are coming back to school to learn additional skills so they can continue to teach, compose or lead.
“The workflow can be messy,” Mossman said. “You have to adapt with budgets, availability — problem solving in the real world.”
Many of the students who were chosen to record already perform in the professional realm.
Sungjo Jung, one of the musicians recording on Thursday morning, is an accomplished orchestra conductor in Seoul, South Korea. His son attended the QC program and then about a year ago he decided to enroll to learn more about composition.
“I’m an old student,” Jung said with a laugh. “I’ve traveled the world conducting.”
Julien Hucq, a bass clarinet player, moved here from Germany two months ago to study music. In his home country he plays with a band, but he says the contacts he has made in New York City are priceless.
Saxophonist Gabrielle Murphy, who has some recording experience from her undergraduate education, agrees. She hopes the people she meets through her experiences at QC can get her a step closer to achieving her dream of playing with Herbie Hancock and Christian McBride.
After a concert Murphy told McBride, “Remember my face. We are going to play together.”
“The real goal is to play,” she said.