Studio Session Sit-In with Modern Day Greats: Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, Thundercat and Ronald Bruner


I’ve been working in the music biz for while a now, and I’ve been in studio sessions before, but it’s never been anything special. Most of the time, it’s vocalists overdubbing, or a bunch of people sitting on couches listening to mixes. It’s not like I’ve ever been in a studio session when “genius” happens. I’ve never sat in a studio when a studio engineer pushes the “record” button and some music-savants just jam out their ideas playing off of each other.

Well … I guess I can cross something off of my bucket-list.

Terrace Martin had invited me to his performance at The Troubadour when he opened for Snarky Puppy. Like his gig at the Del Monte Speakeasy, he had Grammy-Award winning pianist/producer Robert Glasper join him on-stage for part of his set.

After Snarky Puppy had finished their concert, I tried looking for Terrace to congratulate him on a killer set. Since I couldn’t find him, I shot him a text to thank him for hooking me up with a free ticket to the show. As soon as I started the ignition of my car, he shot me a text back to meet up with him at the studio where he and Robert were working. It was a weekday, and I had a conference call at 10am, but I couldn’t pass this up.

I plunked the address he sent over in my GPS.  I must have rolled-through two stop signs, rushing to get to the studio. When I walked into the building, the people at the front desk asked me which session I was there for. I didn’t know, so I texted Terrace.

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Holy …. I kinda lost my breath.

I opened the door of the studio, and Terrace greets me. He tells me that I can snap some pics, but that I absolutely couldn’t shoot any video. I didn’t argue.

I scanned the room and saw Robert Glasper to my left, and Thundercat to my right. My brain started hurting just thinking about the music IQ in the room. I’ll admit … I was a little intimidated, so I relegated myself as a silent observer. I had no problem with that.

I spent the next two hours watching these gents “work” in the studio. I got to see them joke around, talk smack … oh, damn, they sure can talk some smack … and, most importantly, play. Watching Thundercat play a riff with such maddening speed and precision that he had to stop to stretch out his hands afterwards. Watching Terrace tell the studio engineer to adjust the mics on the drum kit because of how hard Ron played the drums, then to watch Ron smash the set with violent abandon. Watching both Robert and Terrace lose themselves in the music that they were playing. Oh, man. It was truly an experience that I’ll not soon forget.

When I looked at my watch it was already 2am. Lord knows I would have killed to stay in that studio until the sun came up, but damn that 10am conference call.

As I got up to leave, I addressed the group by thanking them for letting me sit in. I then decided to keep talking and mentioned that, “I wish I was a studio-rat like you guys” (you know … like a gym-rat? …. someone who can’t leave a certain place because of their dedication) … I should have kept my mouth shut.

Thundercat look up from his bass and said, “Rat? Are all musicians rats, now.” Everybody started laughing. I started blushing. Then Robert and Terrace chimed in with the same ribbing. I felt like a fool, but at the same time it also felt somewhat endearing. I sheepishly thanked them all again, and bounced.

When I got to my car, it came to me. I should have said “studio-cat”…

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