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Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project




Behind The Sounds - Joe Hannigan

Joe Hannigan 1

Every time we attend a concert, there are people at work whom we may, or may not know, nor notice. These are people whose job is to make our experience as wonderful as possible. To that group of people who work behind the scenes in the Jazz community here in Philadelphia, we'd like to acknowledge their work and commitment. This series of articles, entitled Behind The Sounds is dedicated to the sound engineers.

 

Weston Sound & Video is an independent, full service audio & video production company that provides audiophile-quality location recording of Classical, Jazz, Operatic and Choral music. Entering our 30th year, in operation since July 1988. With roots in the analog domain, Weston Sound delivers high-resolution digital media services, including CD mastering, DVD authoring, video production, and tape & vinyl restoration. Clients include The Philadelphia Orchestra, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, WRTI-Temple University Public Radio, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and more.

 

For over forty years, Joe Hannigan has been involved in every aspect of music recording and production in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, from live sound to studio sessions to radio, television and film soundtracks. With his company, Weston Sound & Video, Hannigan provides audiophile-quality location recording of Classical, Jazz, Operatic and Choral music. Joe Hannigan been fortunate to have worked with many celebrated and diverse artists over the years: Placido Domingo, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Julie Andrews, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, Margaret Whiting, Cameron Carpenter, Danio Perez and John Pattitucci, to name just a few. Joe Hannigan was originally a classically trained musician.  He is a regular contributing author of audio product reviews for MIX magazine. 

 

PJP Spoke with sound engineer, Joe Hannigan about his philosphy and his work as a sound engineer.

 


PJP: Can you describe your creative direction as a sound engineer?

 

Joe Hannigan: I love the whole arc of a project: from capturing (and often mixing) it live on location, to post-production.  The mixing, editing & final mastering is still a thrill, every time, every project. I enjoy sizing up a project from the initial planning stages, and working through it to completion with the artists.     

 

Joe Hannigan 3PJP: Can you tell us a little about your studio, or your business as a sound engineer?

 

Joe Hannigan: My time is split between live recording/mixing at venues to post production back here at my studio.  The project can be anything from a basic CD recording session to a full multitrack audio production with video for a DVD or streaming online.  Many of our recordings end up on Radio and online: WRTI, NPR, Jazz Night in America, Performance Today, etc. 


PJP: What inspired you to work in sound?

 

Joe Hannigan: It was always around me, and I was drawn to it automatically.  My dad played music on the radio constantly, at home or in the car.  Our babysitter’s dad owned a bar and she always got extra 45’s from the jukebox, so we were always getting great stuff to play at home.  My Aunt played the violin and my mother had a piano, and I was always encouraged to play and learn. I was in bands from grade school through college and beyond. 

 

Joe Hannigan 2
 

PJP: How long have you been doing this work?

 

Joe Hannigan: I started live sound and recording professionally in 1976, when the Dell Music Center was re-opened by the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department for Jazz and ethnic concerts. I opened my own company in 1988.   


PJP: What keeps you motivated?

 

Joe Hannigan: Every time I sit down to work, I realize how fortunate I am.  I get to work with truly talented artists and their music, helping them create their art. Good work is its own reward, but in this business, I can leave something notable behind for others to hear it, for years to come.


PJP: Can you share a bright moment from your work?

 

Joe Hannigan: There are so many!  Recording the Coltrane Marathon in September 2016 for the Philadelphia Jazz Project and WRTI was truly inspiring; all of those hard-working, insanely dedicated saxophone players, waiting their turn to get out there and wail, all in tribute to John Coltrane, all with their own interpretations.  Our recording rig was set up backstage, and seeing the sweat pouring off those guys when they came back in from their set was proof of how hard they were working. (See attached photo – Odean Pope in performance at this event.)

 

Odean Pope - Coltrane At 90Another artist that always amazes me is Danilo Perez.  When he was curating and performing in The Jazz Up Close Series at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center that aired on WRTI; every concert was a revelation.  I always heard/learned something new with the shows we did together.


PJP: We know that audio is a science, but what makes it an art?

 

Joe Hannigan: The tools of the trade are the “science” part – microphones, preamps, speakers, mixing consoles, etc., but the emotion and the indefinable input from the musicians is what makes it magic for me.  That “pixie dust” on a truly inspirational recording is what we’re all after.  Watching... hearing the artists go out there and improvise, often with only a loose set of changes is always thrilling. They’re on a tight rope; a high wire act.  You can’t explain it so much in words, but when it’s there, you know it.


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?

 

Joe Hannigan: It never ceases to impress me, every time out.  I’m a musician, and I’ve played a lot of styles over the years, but Jazz is a genre that always keeps my interest and keeps me digging into it.  It’s always changing; how did they DO that?  How did the drummer and bass player know to go THERE?  What inspires the soloists to do what they do over the changes the piano player is laying down?  

 

Connect With Joe Hannigan via his WESTON SOUND WEBSITE or WESTON SOUND FACEBOOK or LINKEDIN or FACEBOOK

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.