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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Seattle Sound - David Sabee

Last winter, movie director Ang Lee came to Seattle. He wasn't here for a shoot, but to watch over the scoring of his latest film, Brokeback Mountain. Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, and performed by the musicians of Seattlemusic, that score went on to win an Oscar. And the man responsible for it all is David Sabee.


The rest after the jump.
More information at Seattle Sound


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Tyson said...

"We created Seattlemusic as a way to provide high-quality film scoring solutions," Sabee says. "In other words, we weren't trying to compete with people who go to Guatamala, or wherever people go to find others who will work for five dollars a day. Rather, we were trying to compete with London, which was very, very prodigious, ever since Star Wars."

Seattlemusic Inc. is the Northwest's first and best company devoted to bringing finely wrought music to the screen, stereo, and videogame. Its 470 members have played hundreds of instruments, from the common to the rare, on over 40 movies, from the Hollywood blockbuster to the art house thinker.

Since its inception in early 1995, Seattlemusic has worked with some of Hollywood's finest composers, from Michael Kamen to Anthony Marinelli, and with some of music's most popular acts, including Evanescence and Dave Matthews.

"When we started, we wanted our clients to be aware of not only who we were, but what we did," Sabee says. "We work with the composer to pick the perfect musician for the piece. It's extremely complex. It's really an art form in itself. To find the perfect sax player for a kind of music, or to find a flautist who also plays pan flute, or a player who can play this particular piece of ancient Asian music, that's hard."

Luckily, Sabee maintains a working roster of musicians, from digeridoos to choirs. And sometimes the perfect musician is Sabee himself. An accomplished cellist, Sabee has played at the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim, and Carnegie Hall. He has bowed with both the Milwaukee Symphony and the American Composers Orchestra, and is currently a member of the Seattle Symphony.

Although Sabee rarely has the time to play with the orchestra, he has been known to join a session or two. "Some composers request that I sit in on the sessions," Sabee says ruefully. "They twist my arm a bit." No amount of force, however, can get Sabee to switch sides--for all his work with composers, Sabee stays clear of composing. "It's not something I do. I've been in Seattle 19 years," says Sabee, "and Seattlemusic is the most rewarding work I've done."

It's not just Seattlemusic that's thriving. Alongside Seattlemusic, sister companies have flourished.

"When we did Die Hard with a Vengeance, we just contracted the musicians," says Sabee. "We had to go out and hire these recording trucks from Los Angeles. We knew from the beginning that it simply wasn't viable, and that sooner or later local businesses would crop up and take over. And they have."

Although Seattlemusic now has its own engineers, recording equipment, and trucks (they were recently hired out by Stevie Nicks), several companies, such as RPM, a music prepping company led by Richard Puff, have grown side by side with Sabee.

"It was actually Stealth, even though it wasn't a commercial success, that finally showed Hollywood that we can do the high-profile blockbusters. We used to place ads in Los Angeles, to try and gain attention," says Sabee. "Now we no longer need to."

Today, the Seattlemusic's orchestra is working on the music for Scream 4. In the past few months, Seattlemusic has recorded the scores for Lucky Number Slevin, Akeelah and the Bee, and Underworld: Evolution. In the future, who knows what projects might come his way.

He might not be playing, but somewhere in Seattle, David Sabee is making music.


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