Studio Sessions

In March 2015, I went to Havana, Cuba, with the Crescent Super Band, part of an after-school program started by visionary music educator Caleb Chapman in American Fork, Utah. While in Havana, we recorded two big band tunes with a couple of great Cuban musical guests for my upcoming CD, “Inside of the Outside.”

I want to address some of the issues associated with being in the studio for this project.

Not only were we in a foreign country with a language barrier, but we were also working with high school students who had relatively little recording experience. Dealing with the long hours and multiple takes can be difficult and getting the parts as close to perfect as possible is a particularly trying process. As a studio musician, you have to be prepared not only musically but mentally as well.

Musical Prep. Knowing that what you are playing will be recorded for everyone to listen to forever can be daunting. You really have to be on top of your game because you want to sound great. You need a solid base of fundamentals, and there will be elements you need to work on that are outside of your comfort zone. Playing in tune is of the utmost importance, and being able to blend and articulate with others is essential. Sight-reading is another skill you will need as well as the ability to play a wide variety of styles.

Mental Prep. Be prepared for long hours and multiple takes. Be easy to work with, be prepared, be versatile, be grateful and be flexible. These things will get you through most situations.

I encourage you to do as much studio work as you can, so you know about microphone placement, how to play under headphones and how to get the right mix.

More About the CD. This project is funded by fans via Kickstarter, and all proceeds from the sales of the CD will go to the National School of the Arts in Havana, Cuba. Please check my website for updates and how to support the project if you’re interested.

Photo by Rene Huemer.

About author

Jeff Coffin

Jeff Coffin is a three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist, composer, educator, and author. He has been a band member of Dave Matthews Band since 2008.  Jeff also teaches at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Jeff has published “The Saxophone Book,” co-wrote “The Articulate Jazz Musician” with Caleb Chapman, and released “The Road Book” in late 2019. Jeff is a Yamaha and D’Addario Performing Artist and Clinician.  Visit and for more information.