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Chet Atkins: Solo Sessions

Chet Atkins recorded much of his work over the years in his home studio located in the basement of his Nashville home. After his death, family and friends found an astounding new collection of 28 solo guitar arrangements, which now form the basis for Chet Atkins: Solo Session (2003 CGP Records).

Atkins’ engineer, Mike Poston, tells the story:

"About 6 months after his death, the executrix of the Chet Atkins estate and members of the Atkins family asked guitarist Paul Yandell, Chet’s grandson Jonathan Russell, and me to come out to Chet’s basement studio to begin the process of going through all the tapes down there. You have to understand that Chet had lived in this home since the early 50’s and soon after moving into his house, Chet put up some studio walls, sound glass and wired the place. Before long, he had a studio/workshop where he could work on his recordings whenever he wanted to. Since Chet went to bed early, he got up sometimes in the real early morning hours to work in the ‘magic of the moment.’ This was Chet’s routine for many years.”

"I had met Chet in the mid ‘70s when I installed his first 24-track machine while working for the audio supply company that provided a lot of his equipment in his studio. I was already a fan of his, because as a child my mother just idolized him and his playing. I became especially fond of the Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions album, and would sit for hours listening to him, wondering how he could play so well without making any mistakes. I could easily pick out the mistakes of other artists and musicians, but not so with Chet.”

"As a recording engineer, I first worked with Chet on his last RCA album, Great Hits of the Past. Randy Goodrum was playing piano with Chet at the time, and I was engineering all of Randy’s song demos. Because of the new direction Chet wanted to take, Randy thought that Chet and I would work well together. From that time until the recording of Almost Alone, Chet and I worked on many projects together. Some projects I did not do, because Chet just did them himself.”

"Because of my technical abilities, I also did most of the maintenance and wiring in Chet’s home studio. I set up a permanent direct input for Chet to use whenever he wanted. He could plug into it, raise that fader to ‘0’, the preamp was preset, no EQ, and assign to the mix buss or to a multitrack input. I wanted to keep it simple so that the technical aspects wouldn’t get in the way of the creative aspects. At any time, Chet could plug in and start recording to 2-track or the multitrack.”

"Many days I would come in and thread the 24 track and hit play expecting to hear a performance of something we had put down the previous afternoon, but then suddenly I would be surprised - it wasn’t the same performance as yesterday! Chet had gotten up early again, not completely satisfied with previous day’s work, and so was inspired to do something totally different. He just recorded himself solo again, all alone. That was just the way Chet worked.”

"Chet would sit in the control room or studio for countless hours playing, practicing, or working on a different arrangement of a song for yet another surprise overdub, or just maybe he’d be practicing for an upcoming live performance. I would be in the control room doing technical work, mixing, or editing, and I’d listen to Chet play these classic standards solo. I was so taken by the intimate sound of his playing just a few feet from me. Often I would suggest to Chet that we put together a solo” album with just him playing these classics because they we so mesmerizing. And he would always say, Ah, no one wants to listen to that stuff.” I disagreed, but Chet was the boss.”

"So, while Jonathan, Paul and I were going through a rack of DAT tapes, we find these tapes that are just labeled Chet Solos.” Some have titles, some don’t. Most have dates or date ranges. We started listening and the comments started coming : Wow”, That’s really good”, This is great stuff”, How did he know to play that?” There’ll never be anyone to ever play like that.” It was tough for Jonathan to listen, because he missed his Grand Dad. Like I told Jonathan, how many people get the opportunity to listen to their grandfather continue to talk to them long after he’s gone? It was tough for all of us, but we all knew that he was there with us. For me, it was like listening to him play in front of me all over again. I felt like he was in the room with me again.”

To order this 2-CD collection, click here.   

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