About six months ago one of the producers of Jadoo was sitting in a jazz club in Streatham, The Hideaway, watching a unique band called The Khippers, fronted by the actor, Paul Bradley, and Oscar-winning composer, Stephen Warbeck.
His wife elbowed him in the ribs and said, “What about him then, Stephen Warbeck, to do the music for your film…?” The producers took a welcome opportunity to scoff, “Don’t be absurd, woman, he won’t do our film… he’s got an Oscar.”
Sixth months – and a grovelling marital-apology – later the team is assembled in Air Studios in Hampstead watching twenty-five string players add the finishing touches to the film’s superb, witty and emotional score.
How did we get here? Serendipity, of course.
The elegant Lynda Mamy, Stephen’s agent, had an in-passing chat about Jadoo to Amit Gupta’s agent, entrepreneurial Sean Gascoine. Both work for United Agents, an outfit that regularly shows there is an actual meaning to the word synergy. Lynda was pretty sure Stephen would like the script. And he did.
So, a few weeks later Amit sat down in Stephen’s home-studio in Sussex and they watched the film together whilst Stephen picked out themes on the piano and talked about instrumentation.
A few meetings later and the music was scored, arranged and drafted in pencil… which is when Stephen’s amazing team sweeps in to action.
First up, Andrew Green, a multi-hyphenate acting as our copyist in this instance, whips the handwritten sheets off Stephen and, in double-quick time (and with some help from chums), turns the pencilled sheets into a clean, numbered and beautifully organised score.
We all meet at the deconsecrated church that is Air Studios and sit in the booth with Nick Wollage, the recordist/mixer, as he sets up the booths for the session artists will sit in, positions the mics with great precision and starts to test the results.
And then the session musicians arrive, all booked by the unflappable Charlotte Matthews of Isobel Griffiths. Initially; Martin Robertson, on duduk and sax; Mark Bousie, on accordion; John Parricelli on guitars; and Kuljit Bhamra on tabla and percussion.
As the tracks are laid down to picture the Music Editor, Lewis Morison, makes sure the cues are covered, the music fits precisely and the next cue is selected in the most logical order.
As the sessions build we’re joined by trumpeter, Chris Batchelor, bassist, Steve Watts, and extra percussionist, Magnus Mehta.
Then the quiet, smiley figure of Terry Davies our conductor (and Olivier-winning composer in his own right) arrives to manage the strings session, along with orchestra leader Rolf Wilson. (Terry is bearing recent facial lacerations from one of Stephen’s semi-feral cats but that’s a much, much longer story…)
All this time the indefatigable figure of Stephen Warbeck is flying in and out of the mixing booth: playing the piano parts, calling out on-the-hoof corrections to the score, and, whenever a new set of musicians arrives, outlining the story of the film to help them get the tone of the music just right.
We chunk through it, and it feels just like a shooting-day – seemingly impossible to finish but, in the hands of hugely experienced professionals, we squeak in Saturday evening with eight minutes to spare.
By the middle of the next week – and after Stephen and Lewis have done their magic – the music master files are delivered ready for the final mix.
Which is next week. Nearly there.
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