GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session Journal: Recording GRAMMY Jazz 22

  • Cameron MacIntosh records GRAMMY Jazz 22 at Capitol Studios & Mastering on Jan. 23
    Photo: Rebecca Sapp/

(In January the 32 selected members of GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session traveled to Los Angeles in January for a weeklong musical adventure that included performances at various GRAMMY Week events and the recording of an album at Capitol Studios & Mastering in Hollywood, Calif. To provide an insider's perspective on this unique opportunity, 2014 Jazz Session drummer Cameron MacIntosh recounted his experience recording GRAMMY Jazz 22 and his final performance with the 2014 GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session.)

After an extremely enjoyable time playing at the GRAMMY in the Schools Live! concert at USC on Jan. 22, myself and the band packed up and arrived at our hotel at around midnight. The following morning, we woke up at 5 a.m. to begin another great opportunity — recording an album at the world-famous Capitol Studios & Mastering. Unlike years past, the recording took place much earlier in the week on Thursday, when it usually happens on Friday or Saturday after the band has had more experience with the music. Nonetheless, we took it as our responsibility to deliver the best performance possible despite the fact that time wasn't completely on our side.

As we walked into the legendary studio, we couldn't help but gaze at the pictures of our heroes —  everyone from Nat "King" Cole and Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, who all recorded in the same space that we would soon work in. Being in the same room where many legendary albums were recorded made us think that we had to really "do it right." After four or five hours of sleep, it was difficult to focus; however, the fatigue and lack of sleep made us concentrate even harder. From the first downbeat, the music was energetic and swinging. Although some alternate takes were necessary on some tunes, the recording turned out very well, and everyone in the studio seemed very happy.

Once the session was over, we quickly boarded a bus and made an hour-long drive to Seal Beach to play at Spaghettini, an intimate and atmospheric venue that has hosted many performances by GRAMMY bands over the years. To make things even better, both the band and combo got to share the stage with trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis. After a great set from the choir and combo, the band played some of our repertoire for the audience, then some arrangements that Marsalis brought in. We had only rehearsed the three charts for about an hour, and I hoped that as the "heartbeat" of the band I would hold things together as best as I could, given the little rehearsal time we had with the music. In the end, everyone delivered a great performance that was well-received by the packed house. Even though the day was long and tiring, nothing is more rewarding and refreshing than taking the stage with incredible musicians and playing for an appreciative audience.

(Cameron MacIntosh is a 17-year-old senior at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., where he is a member of the jazz and wind ensembles. MacIntosh also attends the the Precollege Division of Manhattan School of Music and performs in their top combo and big band. MacIntosh is also the drummer for the Montclair, N.J.-based Jazz House Kids big band, with whom he won the 2012 Charles Mingus High School Competition in New York where he was the recipient of the Outstanding Soloist Award. In 2013 the Jazz House Kids won the best rhythm section award at the Essentially Ellington Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where the band placed second overall nationally.)