Jake: Speaking in terms of this type of recording, I know your record label Wavetone Records tries to support creative projects of this nature. Tell me about how Wavetone is set up.
Mark: Wavetone is a label that I started in 1992, and was initially an outlet for a lot of creative projects that I had been doing. I had done a number of records with different labels, GRP, RCA, Windom Hill, and Blue Moon, and it got to a point where I was producing a lot of records, but it was difficult to get things placed because a lot of the music wasn’t commercial so to speak, it was more progressive. So what started it was a tour that I did with the group Elements which I co-lead with Danny Gottlieb, featuring Gil Goldstein on keyboards and David Mann on saxophone. We did a tour in Japan, recorded live, and that became the first release called Elements Volume I, and I also released my Mosaic record as well, which gave us two releases to start out with.
Since that time I’ve put out twelve releases, Truth Be Told being the most recent, and I’ve been able to establish worldwide distribution. It’s been a great outlet, and it supports itself. It’s not a big moneymaker, but it does support itself and keeps projects coming out. I’ve always had control in the production aspect of things, but it was good to know that I had a place to bring my music. Not only have I been able to produce my own records on the label, but I’ve been able to produce for a few other artists as well. It’s been a great venture for me, and a great outlet for my music.
Jake: When did you see yourself starting to wear the producer hat per se?
Mark: I actually started producing on the first Elements record which was in 1982. Danny Gottlieb and I were former members of the Pat Metheny group, as you know, and we wanted to do a project because we had such a great rapport together, musically, and as friends. We decided to do the first record along with Bill Evans and Clifford Carter—it was just called Elements. And after we started the project, I found myself saying wait a minute, I’m producing here. I just jumped into the seat of doing it because we didn’t have a producer; we did it on our own. I remember in that first session that I started thinking, wow, I should be a reading Mix Magazine, because I realized I needed to learn more about the technical aspects of producing. I had a pretty firm grasp of some of the responsibilities of the producer since I had done a lot of studio work in the seventies and early eighties, and also my experience with the Pat Metheny group, learning how records went down. Before I joined the Pat Metheny group, I had played with David Sanborn, Deodato, and the Pointer Sisters, and had done a number of records. So it wasn’t like the Elements record was the first time I was in the studio. I was kind of a seasoned New York session guy. But I realized I did need to know more about the technical and production aspect of things because I was starting to learn how to master, which at that time was analog, as well as looking into the concept of EQ, and effects. This was way before home studios.
Jake: As much as I try not to overplay Jaco’s relevance, I know you studied with him for a period of time, and I’m sure readers would be interested in what you walked away with after being one on one with him.