Dealing With Chet Atkins – An Job Interview With Pianist-Arranger Tony Migliore

Dealing With Chet Atkins - An Job Interview With Pianist-Arranger Tony Migliore

Tony Migliore began his musical research as a youngster and enrolled within the renowned Julliard School of audio in which he analyzed piano, theory and composition. He ongoing his musical studies at Eastman Faculty of Music in Rochester, NY. Tony later went on to serve as pianist and arranger for America Armed forces Academy Band at West Point. For the duration of this period he also worked on quite a few Broadway and off Broadway performances such as “Oh Calcutta and “Promises, Promises”. Following finishing his army services motivation he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in which his musical expertise expanded significantly. As being a pianist, Tony Migliore has done on hundreds of hit report albums earning him quite a few awards. In 1978 Tony began to get the job done for Chet Atkins as his piano participant once the departure of Randy Goodrum. As Chet Atkins performances improved to include far more symphony concert events, Tony was tapped to start crafting the musical arrangements for Chet. About a twenty calendar year interval, Tony wrote around fifty arrangements for Chet Atkins. Commencing in 1992, Tony turned pianist for pop/folks songwriter Don McLean (“American Pie”, “Vincent”, “Castles in the Air” and a lot of Other folks). Tony lives in Nashville and carries on to tour with Don McLean as well as records and creates songs with the Chelsea Songs Team studio in Brentwood, TN. This job interview was done in June of 2021, following Don McLean’s marketed out performance in the Sandler Center for that Carrying out Arts in Virginia Seaside, VA.

TR: When did you start to operate with Chet?

TM: The very first time I ever worked with Chet was in 1978. I had been his substitute piano player. Randy Goodrum was playing piano with him, and Randy had Several other issues happening At the moment. He all of a sudden experienced a few hit documents all of sudden massive, big tracks, and he began acquiring busy executing other issues, so he asked me if I’d personally go and substitute with Chet’s band, And that i said, “Alright.”

TR: So Randy realized you, but Chet didn’t?

TM: Yes, Randy knew me. Chet understood who I used to be I had subbed Together with the Tunes Masters festival once or twice playing with Boots Randolph, and he understood who I used to be, but we by no means really put in any time jointly. And when Randy questioned me to make it happen, he just sent me more than some tapes. We had no rehearsal, I just acquired the soundtracks and performed several factors.

TR: You figured out from just Hearing the tapes?

TM: I listened towards the tapes, and created a number of tiny chord charts with things which I was not informed about, and so it had been incredibly laid back again and really easy not when it comes to the audio, but just simple when it comes to obtaining in addition to Chet and the guys.

TR: Would you remember what a few of Those people early tunes were?

TM: Properly, he did the stuff that he was most known for, cuts like “Windy and Warm” and “Snowbird” People factors, in addition he did what he termed “The Medley of My Hit”, which was a bunch of things which he developed on other artists. Just one was Perry Como’s Variation of Don McLean’s track, “And I like You So.” Don Gibson’s “Oh, Lonesome Me.” And “Aspiration” from the Everly Brothers. I don’t forget also that Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Really need to Go.” was in there way too.

There have been some vintage music. Everyone in Nashville knew Chet if not Individually, by his reputation. He was on this lofty throne somewhere way up higher than the rest of us. Arrive at know the man, and he was the most humble, self deprecating man or woman you would at any time satisfy.

He could not imagine persons basically compensated dollars to return hear him Perform. He mentioned, “I am simply a guitar participant. I do not do anything I don’t sing, I do not jump about.” So he was generally humble.

He’d look out for the people today in a very theater just full of folks all adoring lovers. They have been backstage, they usually were being on the lookout for autographs plus they have been almost everywhere.

Once i initially started out playing with him, I Truthfully didn’t know lots about Chet. Certainly, I knew he was on the list of head honchos at RCA, a well reputed producer and he was this well known guitar participant. But, currently being a keyboard participant, I did not shell out an excessive amount notice to guitars.

Having said that, if you go to Nashville you can’t NOT listen to guitars.

Early on I had a bent to Enjoy a little bit active. He would notify me, “Enjoy slightly one thing, but Do not get carried absent, just relax.” His drummer at the time was Randy Hauser who experienced just replaced Larrie Londin. Randy and I grew to become buddies, and they played so straightforward about the backbeat and so way more expressive some thing many of us realized once we moved to a location like Nashville, and I moved listed here to become studio musician, And that i figured out from a lot of the most effective, which include Chet, Pig Robbins, who could say a lot more with three notes than most people can say with 100. So that was a fantastic Finding out knowledge from a kid who had undergone a lot of the best music schools and experienced the many technical chops on the planet at the time. I realized I didn’t have to run up and down the keyboard like Van Cliburn to produce an announcement.

TR: Van Cliburn, was he the pianist who also did jokes?

TM: Which was Victor Borge, who I absolutely liked.

TR: You explained to me before you had “lay out” at some details.

TM: Yeah, the declaring was, “Know when to put out.” You occasionally say far more musically when you lay out. You really say additional.

TR: I have generally believed just from my very own knowledge that Once i’m experiencing new music, I am deeply sensation anything.

TM: If you are not sensation it, you’re dead. You might be not likely Listening to and suffering from the new music.

Within a circumstance like Don McLean, I discovered when I initially begun dealing with him that his breathing turns into A part of the tune. It can be not simply having a breath because you’re outside of air, nevertheless it gets to be Section of the music and he spots his breaths in strategic sites to make it efficient.

That is a very wise detail to complete, and at times he’ll elongate a Notice and then acquire an additional big breath and whenever you pay attention back to that, that actually works.

I operate with many singers while in the studio, and several of these Never seriously understand how to emote (50 percent of them You should not know how to sing), but I have to teach them expression and I notify them too that respiratory is an element on the tune.

You mustn’t be afraid to have a breath and also have it’s audible. Every one of us breathe, many of us have to breathe. It is all right as being a singer to breathe and sigh though singing. And as I said it may be a vital part of your song.

Chet “breathed” in his guitar music with his style of participating in. There was a natural beauty during the enjoying, the pauses plus the phrasing of notes.

We did a present a single time again in ’78 or ‘seventy nine in Ny with Les Paul, who’s 50 percent in the Chester and Lester albums that came out, and we went up there and played at The underside Line. And listed here was Chet sitting down over a stool together with his legs crossed, just calmly actively playing as he did, and when it arrived being Les Paul’s flip he had just about every knob on the amp cranked up to ten, after which you can he jumped around and did all these items, as well as the distinction and I imply no disrespect to Les Paul due to the fact he was a genius for what he did. Nevertheless the distinction amongst The 2 was amazing. Chet was like John Wayne from the Film “The Tranquil Male”.

TR: I’ve discovered in Don McLean’s singing of Vincent that he is singing and you believe it’s time to go on to another phrase, but he’ll form of wait around.

TM: You cannot hurry it. Chet was this way much too, when he’s Prepared for the following phrase, he’ll visit it. Naturally, on rhythm sort of points, that wasn’t the case, but if not the tempo and come to feel could be various to help make the music additional lovely or for it to work improved.

I bear in mind the incredibly very first gig I played with Chet. He did the first 50 % by himself with acoustic guitar. He would Participate in a couple of tracks, then Paul Yandell would come up and Enjoy with him for the rest of the first 50 percent, and proper close to the conclusion of the initial 50 percent, he would do “Vincent”. I figured out afterwards that Chet always had a adore for Don’s song writing.

This was very long just before I at any time understood Don McLean and had any ideas about working with him and knowing him and I thought, “What is always that track? That’s a good looking music.”

It took me a moment and I went, “Oh, that is ‘Starry Starry Evening,'” and my ears perked up And that i listened intently to Chet participating in it and don’t forget contemplating, “This dude is usually a participant this dude is de facto participating in.”

Who was I? I used to be 28 or 29 a long time previous at some time. Who was I to problem the genius of a man such as this? But I guess after you occur out from the educational establishments I arrived out of, you’re a minimal jaded. You believe, ” A guitar player, Exactly what does he know?” But then to listen to him play While using the sensitivity of a real classical participant, it was awesome.

TR: (laughs) Perfectly, just listen to him Participate in “Blue Angel” or even the Barrios tune “Choro de Saudade”

TM: Yeah, needless to say. Or “Recuerdos Del Alhambra”.

And I had been so fortunate to come back alongside at some time I did, since it was not a year just after I commenced dealing with him equally as a piano participant he explained to me, “You create preparations, don’t you?”

He stated, “Could you publish me an arrangement on so and so?” I don’t keep in mind the tune. He said, “We will do it subsequent time we function by having an orchestra.” And I did that and it turned out really nicely.

And Steve Wariner was touring with us and he questioned me to accomplish an arrangement of one of his tracks which Chet was featuring inside the clearly show, and it worked out excellent, then Chet would ask for another arrangement, and One more, plus they have been all Doing work very well.

About a year later, Chet asked, “Can you immediate an orchestra?” He’d been utilizing Albert Coleman, who was at time I believe the conductor from the Atlanta Pops, and had also carried out for your Masters Festivals which featured Chet, Floyd Cramer and Boots Randolph. And we were being both of those good friends with Chet. But Albert was beginning to slow down a little bit, and Chet just wished to test me out on anything.

I don’t forget the first display that he questioned me to conduct was with the Rochester Philharmonic. It absolutely was quite intimidating to me, for the reason that that was the place I went to school, and there were a bunch of my lecturers sitting down there before me.

I recall one of several French horn gamers while in the symphony was from my college times and he is on the lookout down in excess of his Eyeglasses, like “I am aware you, I know you!”

But they were being all quite form and gracious. We had an enjoyable demonstrate. And from that time on I became Chet’s conductor, and keyboard participant and arranger for his Dwell things. I did 1 arrangement that we did on report and that was “Dance With Me.” Chet received a Grammy for that music.

TR: Therefore you played that interesting piano solo

TM: I played piano on it, also, suitable.

TR: For that Chet lover who will probably read through this, Exactly what does an arranger do for Chet Atkins? Does he bring just a music melody and say, “Select all the opposite parts?”

TM: Yeah, basically, and with Chet, almost certainly the most tough component was once more not producing something so active that it acquired in how of what he was executing. It desired typically being pretty subdued qualifications tunes, Virtually nonessential, due to the fact he would Perform these items with just the band, and it was great with no an orchestra. He had the orchestra and ideally, it just extra Yet another dimension and created it all the more gorgeous.

TR: Did you decide what instruments can be A part of the orchestra?

TM: Indeed. I love to use things such as oboes and cellos for specific different types of tracks. You want Those people shades and make use of the orchestra as hues in lieu of seem, Primarily with Chet’s type of taking part in. You don’t need the orchestral arrangement for getting in the way in which, so You do not create just about anything way too terribly bombastic, Except if he’s performing some thing like “Stars and Stripes Eternally ” Then you really just duplicate the John Philip Sousa and ignore it! For some thing delicate, you want to stay from the best way and just write straightforward matters just more or less underscore what he is undertaking.

TR: It sounds like the connection grew from fill in piano player to arranger.

TM: I sort of grew to become the official piano participant by proxy. Randy termed me for the very first clearly show, he known as me two weeks later for the following show, he named me several weeks afterwards for the next exhibit and then he quit contacting me, and I just form of went together.

TR: How did Chet seek the services of men and women? How was that arranged?

TM: I don’t remember Chet ever really employing any person from the band. Not surprisingly, Once i came on, Larrie Londin had previously been enjoying drums and Randy experienced taken around for Larrie. Randy was there before I was. Henry Strzelecki was nevertheless actively playing bass, and when Henry decided he couldn’t tour anymore which was when they hired Steve Wariner. Basically it absolutely was Paul Yandell I feel that employed the more recent gamers.

Except for when Johnny Johnson arrived with us. Johnny was Floyd Cramer’s bass participant, and in addition the bass participant when they did the Masters festival Floyd and Chet and Boots Randolph, and so Chet was extremely familiar with Johnny’s actively playing. Wonderful participant, Among the most underrated bass players at any time. I believe Chet experienced a hand in bringing Johnny in the team, but basically it absolutely was Paul who’d make the call.

TR: But does the label or someone else pay the charges? I signify, who pays for your musicians is my concern.

TM: The labels would pay for file arrangements, but in terms of his orchestral arrangements, Chet would pay back me from his enterprise, I think it absolutely was Chet Atkins Enterprises at that time, before later on turning out to be CGP Enterprises.

TR: What was your fashion like with Chet, I imply, once you labored with him for a collaborator?

TM: I’d hear how he did the track and afterwards from my head I’d just think of a thing, and we’d Participate in it by means of.

If he specially failed to like a little something, he’d under no circumstances insult you. He’d be incredibly refined and say, “Can we go away that part out?”, And that i’d say “Positive, no difficulty.” We won’t have big egos. Every person has an ego certainly, however, you understand inside our Section of the enterprise that you are going to get the job done with a few people who find themselves about to say, “I do not like that, acquire it out!”

Chet was way more of the gentleman than that he would say, “It’s possible we cannot do that section right below. Look forward to this component.” Which was his way of claiming he did not look after that particular section, Or even say, “Can we change that?”

So it absolutely was an uncomplicated relationship as far as that was involved. Essentially he allow me to have my very own feelings regarding the preparations. If he had some thing distinct he desired, he’d say, “I’d like you to do a little something with horns below,” or “Let us do a little something rhythmic right here.” But aside from that, he type of Permit you to go. It absolutely was very nice, and Don McLean is type of the same way.

In some cases if Chet didn’t like anything, he just wouldn’t carry out the music. He seriously knew what to accomplish and when.

Around the study course the twenty or so yrs that I labored with him, I probably wrote fifty or sixty various arrangements for him. And he would go in spurts. He’d play some of them for awhile and place them up and Participate in Various other types as an alternative. Then he’d return to one thing and say, “We have not performed that in awhile. Let’s try this 1.” It was often wonderful, mainly because for me, it gave me an opportunity to sharpen my abilities in that department, and dealing with Don McLean just grew to become an extension, due to the fact After i initial started dealing with Don, Chet was beginning to slow down.

TR: About what yr Is that this?

TM: I started off with Don in ’92.

I had been continue to undertaking a great deal of dates with Chet and when Don requested me if I planned to do a couple of dates below and there, I think for the very first year or so, I’d personally get possibly 50 percent a dozen.

Don experienced a guitar player that he was applying and he would use him more often than not, and after that I’d come in and do it a couple of exhibits. I do think in all of the decades I had been working with equally of these, I only ever had one particular conflict.

Someday from the mid ’80’s Darryl Dybka came about. Chet was an excellent friend of Earl Klugh, and Earl suggested Darryl.

I was really hectic with recording classes and Chet explained, “Wouldn’t it be OK along with you if I took Darryl out to play keyboards, And you would be the orchestra conductor or do orchestra dates?” I stated, “Sure, which is fantastic.”

Chet did perhaps about forty dates a 12 months and about half of them were using an orchestra and half were not. Darryl did the opposite dates and he would truly even do a lot of the orchestra dates and I’d personally just go alongside as conductor.

It had been excellent for the reason that After i began working with Don, I had been only doing orchestra dates with Chet, so there have been not as lots of conflicts as though I were enjoying many of the dates. Inside the couple of a long time exactly where we transitioned, there was really only one conflict of dates I’m able to recall.

TR: Was it an enormous deal, how was it resolved?

TM: Don reported to me, he claimed, “Why You should not you select Chet?” Chet claimed to me, “No, it is possible to go along with Don. You go forward. I am going to utilize the conductor they have got there,” and that was it. It absolutely was very simple.

TR: But then by the following gig again, you had been back again?

TM: Yes, so generally, one other guy was subbing for me.

TR: You know, someone that’s worked for 20 years with any person is going to understand a great deal. What do you think are a number of the items that you’ve discovered from Chet?

TM: Chet was absolutely probably the most humble individual I have recognized On this business enterprise. I was a youthful, cocky upstart Once i moved to Nashville pondering, properly, “I’m able to Engage in this region stuff. It is really nothing. I’ve performed Tchaikovsky I am able to undoubtedly Engage in state tunes”.

Chet taught me just by who he was. He taught me that you won’t need to go overboard to offer a thing. You may be laid back again, it is possible to keep back, Really don’t exhibit all your cards.

He sometimes was sort of reticent close to folks. He was form of shy, but incredibly, quite, clever, and read persons very properly. He did not constantly say much to them, as you understand a whole lot much more by listening than you need to do by conversing.

He was great at looking at individuals. He could read through his audience and notify whether or not they appreciated what he was performing, or regardless of whether he must change Instructions. He was Excellent at that.

I realized about production just by listening to a few of the things which he did and go, “OK, effectively why didn’t he insert this right here?”

Musically, he was a grasp of understatement. There are plenty of artists right now who I get in touch with “musical terrorists”. They throw within the kitchen area sink on each stinkin’ song they do, so you might have this big cacophony of sounds occurring continuously, when a simple solo line might have been more practical. I’m attempting to learn and utilize that even now as I am in my sixty’s.

Each time I sit down and Engage in with any person, like now with Don, I endeavor to do not forget that.

A person nice thing about Don McLean is that he helps you to do your factor. He won’t say, “Perform the history.”

He claims “Enjoy the track how you’re feeling it. When you screw it up, you screw it up, so tomorrow you are doing it in a different way.” Chet was like that. He in no way commanded you Enjoy such as record. There are several, many artists around which can’t have that. They’ve to have it audio just like the history, ‘bring about They are scared their viewers possibly is not going to recognize it, or they will not like it as it’s not similar to the file.

Chet was excessive of the musician to inhibit you want that. It had been a joy to play with him.

And I feel I uncovered about humility. Which is one of several huge matters I figured out from him. I consider to apply some of it I’m not anywhere near perfect. Who of us is? I actually miss out on him, I miss him quite a bit. I don’t know should you be aware of the identify George Lunn?

TR: Chet’s street manager, right?

TM: For a few years, and George was a great Buddy. I just identified the place he is now. George experienced a stroke a number of years ago, so I will go out and visit him before long.

George favored to fancy himself a sleight of hand pro, with card tricks, things such as that. He was wowing a few persons backstage 1 evening quite a few, a few years ago, and this fellow Lew Potter took place for being in the group and mentioned, “Yeah, that’s definitely great. I have received an previous trick that I figured out am i able to clearly show it to you personally?” And he did some preposterous trick, and George says, “Alright, alright, alright you have had me. Alright, who have you been?” In order that they grew to become buddies and I turned buddies with them, and he and Steve Wariner accustomed to do card tricks collectively. Lew By the way was a huge supporter of Chet’s and also a very high quality guitar player himself

Steve kind of started Discovering tips on how to do card methods, and he acquired Superb at it. He practiced in front of a mirror alot.

But This is just one exciting detail that you may not know. The track we did tonight in Don’s clearly show, “You happen to be My Very little Darlin’ ” , that was a file that Chet performed on.

TR: Really?

TM: Yep. We had been working on this album with Don back in ’95 or so and Don mentioned, “Do you think we can get Chet to play on any of those music, probably just a bit guest overall look sort of issue?” And that i claimed, “Let me take a copy above to him and Permit him listen and find out if there’s anything at all he likes specifically. So I did, and Chet claimed, “Why You should not you arrive above to your home. We will do it while in the basement.”

So we went around sooner or later when Don was in town, and we went to the house, and Chet performed the steel resonator, exactly what is it termed, the D’Angelico?

TR: DelVecchio?

TM: Sorry, I acquired my Italians mixed up. Yeah, he performed that on there and did the solo. It was a wonderful afternoon.

TR: I beloved that song you probably did tonight, “What would the whole world be like”.

TM: After i to start with began dealing with Don, after the guitar participant I discussed, John Platania left, it had been just the two of us. We labored five years like that. He begun executing that music, “what would the entire world be like” And that i just did a little string point. In fact currently when I went to his dressing area to acquire him to come discuss with you he was singing that song to himself and It truly is a beautiful music.

TR: You don’t know what is actually in a Don McLean set would you I imply, there is not any established checklist whenever you Perform correct?

TM: No. He wings it. Don is yet another grasp of looking through his audience. He’ll know regardless of whether to modify gears or not, and what to Engage in.

TR: You mentioned playing in Chet’s basement. What is his basement like? I have in no way been in there. Can it be just like tape devices, sound board, microphones, and many others?

TM: Very well, he experienced an genuine tiny studio developed into the basement. A Manage space with tape machines in there, and he had a little grand piano and guitars just sitting around on stands. You are aware of, he was hardly ever more than seven or 8 ft away from a guitar. I are convinced was his lifeline. He often had to acquire 1 within reach just in the event that he planned to strum a thing.

He would opt for a guitar up when a thing arrived to him, or if he just felt like he necessary to. There was many things down there for the reason that he was also a tinkerer. He experienced his ham radio devices down there, he experienced a piece bench that appeared like the back room of the jewellery store where the jeweler would’ve accomplished his little finite issues. It was his individual own creation studio.

TR: Possibly a sanctuary also.

TM: Yes. It wasn’t something he rented out to other people, but sometimes people might be invited in to Perform with him there, and Of course it absolutely was sort of his sanctuary also.

TR: He would go down there simply to be by himself?

TM: By himself, or carry some guys in to Participate in with a tune, or 5 tunes, or regardless of what. We were being down performing some of his Xmas album, “East Tennessee Xmas” down there a person time, and it absolutely was actually entertaining.

TR: Tony, thank you for paying out some Significantly time collectively tonight.

TM: You’re welcome. It feels good to mention Chet and it brings back fantastic Recollections, so thank you.

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