L.A. Studio Legends: The Reunion (Video)

The great Los Angeles studio musicians reunite for the first time in years to celebrate John Williams

Hosted and Produced by Maurizio Caschetto and Tim Burden

The Legacy of John Williams is proud to present this exclusive video production dedicated to the legendary Los Angeles studio musicians who performed in dozens of film soundtracks by John Williams, including such iconic scores as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Hook and Jurassic Park.

We have fantastic performers in Los Angeles. They’re extremely accomplished, dedicated, there’s a rigorous work discipline behind it. It’s the top of the level of the performing arts world in music. Part of their professionalism is being able to look at something, sight-read it well and, with a little rehearsal and a little direction from the podium, they produce a finished and excellent performance.”

John Williams

The music of John Williams has often being singled out and appreciated for its unique brilliance at orchestral writing. In addition to his genius at creating memorable themes and stirring melodies associated with the stories and the characters of such beloved classics as Jaws, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Hook, Home Alone, Far and Away, JFK, and many others, it’s Williams’ trademark orchestral brilliance that makes his music truly outstanding on many fronts. The composer always showed a profound wisdom and the utmost care at writing symphonically.

John Williams recording the Academy Award-winning score for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) at the MGM Scoring Stage in Culver City (later renamed as Sony Scoring Stage) Photo © Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment

John Williams has also been very aware and sensitive about the importance of the performance aspect in his music, which requires a level of playing usually found only in the best symphony orchestras around the world. His music is often written with specific musicians in mind and, in many cases, those people are some of the greatest session players of the Los Angeles area, where John Williams is living since the late 1940s and where he also started working as a studio pianist in the mid-1950s, playing in many film sessions at Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, and also in dozens of jazz recordings. His father, John F. Williams, Sr. was a very accomplished percussionist and worked for many years as a studio musician in Hollywood as well. It also must be noted that the level of the playing of the great studio orchestras of the 1940s and ’50s (Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox above others) was considered on par with the greatest American symphony orchestras. Many of the members playing in those ensembles were European and Russian emigrées who were taught in the great conservatories and music schools of their countries of origin, thus bringing with them a certain attitude and also a style of playing.

A young John Williams playing piano and keyboard in the mid-1950s

The bond between John Williams and the tradition of the great studio musicians of Los Angeles goes back to the early days of his career in Hollywood. Growing up and maturing side by side with that level of musicianship is one of the reasons why the composer always showed a deep respect and understanding about the importance of the contribution that the great studio players in Los Angeles bring to the art of American film music and one of the key ingredients that make it sound really special and unique. After becoming a full-time composer for films and television shows in the 1960s, Williams was already working with some of the greatest studio musicians of that era including Vince De Rosa, Eleanor Aller Slatkin, Dorothy Remsen, Erno Neufeld, Arthur Gleghorn, Uan Rasey, Ray Turner, Shelly Manne, just to name a few. Many of them were also highly accomplished classical musicians and were often mingling studio work with the concert stage, while others were phenomenal jazz musicians. This great stride was followed in the 1970s with the subsequent generation of studio musicians; many of whom ended up being John Williams’ own favourite principals for many years, performing on many of the composer’s unforgettable film scores ever since like the one mentioned above, but also on such prestige recordings as American Journey (2002, a collection of Maestro Williams’ fanfares and occasion pieces) and Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams (2002, featuring the Cello Concerto written for the world-renowned cellist), the music packages for NBC Nightly News and Sunday Night Football, and special projects like the live-to-picture concert for the 20th Anniversary of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial at the Shrine Auditorium held in March 2002. Among those musicians we find the special guests of this online video event, which is a culmination of the podcast series bearing the same name that was launched in 2020, where many of them have been guests.

Louise Di Tullio, Ralph Grierson, Malcolm McNab, Jim Self, Sheridon Stokes, James Thatcher and Richard Kaufman are the special guests of ‘L.A. Studio Legends – The Reunion’

L.A. STUDIO LEGENDS – The Reunion explores the unparalleled contribution that the great Los Angeles-based studio players brought to many of John Williams’ film soundtracks and recordings in a conversation with some of those world’s most legendary studio musicians who performed in principal roles on dozens of his scores recorded in Hollywood from the late 1960s until recent years: Flutists Louise Di Tullio and Sheridon Stokes, Pianist and Keyboardist Ralph Grierson, Trumpet player Malcolm McNab, French Horn player James Thatcher and Tuba player James Self. Joining the conversation is esteemed Conductor (and former studio Violinist) Richard Kaufman, one of the world’s leading interpreters of film music repertoire and also a personal friend of Maestro Williams. This spectacular ensemble of talented musicians, reuniting for the first time in years, offer a precious perspective on John Williams’ musicianship as a composer and conductor, recollecting the unforgettable performances on such classic film scores as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park among others and sharing many of their fond memories of playing for Maestro Williams. The event is hosted by The Legacy of John Williams’ Editor-In-Chief Maurizio Caschetto and Head Contributor Tim Burden.

L.A. Studio Legends – The Reunion, an original production of The Legacy of John Williams

Produced by Maurizio Caschetto and Tim Burden
Video Editing and Post-Production by Maurizio Caschetto

L.A. Studio Legends Illustration by Gianmaria Caschetto

Special Thanks to Miguel Andrade, Dave Lang, Stephanie McNab, Ronald Royer, Mike Matessino

© 2021 thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com All Rights Reserved.