Welcome to the Monkey House! This acclaimed project is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/arranger/producer Don Breithaupt, and, nearly 25 years into its career, Monkey House has recorded its strongest work yet, Left. To be released worldwide on ALMA Records on June 3rd, this is the follow-up to 2012’s Headquarters, a recording that made believers out of some internationally renowned musicians who were then eager to participate in Left.
To record Left, Breithaupt again set up shop at elite Toronto studio The Drive Shed with the team of co-producer Peter Cardinali and engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey. The album was recorded and mixed in hi resolution (24Bit - 192K), and is also available in surround. “My comfort level with Peter is high, and John is indispensable for making records these days,” reports Don. “For the first time, I decided to have a core quartet at the heart of this album on all the basic tracks, as a way of making the album cohesive.’
That all-star grouping comprised drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Pat Kilbride, and guitarist Justin Abedin, with Breithaupt contributing typically eloquent keyboards, and bassist Peter Cardinali guesting on one track. After bed tracks and vocals were recorded, a five-piece horn section (William Carn, John Johnson, Perry White, Christian Overton, and Vern Dorge) came in for a full day of recording, adding their versatile magic on most of the tunes. But wait, there’s more! Monkey House is renowned for big name guests, and Left is certainly no exception. “I put feelers out for soloists, and ended up getting audio from around the world: Toronto, London, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles,” says Breithaupt.
Stellar guitarists featured include Elliott Randall and Drew Zingg (both of Steely Dan fame), L.A. session great Jay Graydon, and rock legend Kim Mitchell. Other guests include backing vocalists David Blamires (Pat Metheny Group) and Lucy Woodward (Snarky Puppy), trumpeters Michael Leonhart (current musical director for Steely Dan), and William Sperandei, and saxophonist Donny McCaslin, a key player on David Bowie’s final album. Breithaupt’s ability to attract guests of this caliber speaks volumes on the peer respect now enjoyed by Monkey House, something that thrills him. “I was proud to nab Elliott Randall,” he says. “He was the lead guitarist on a lot of early Steely Dan stuff, including ‘Reelin’ In The Years,’ such an important song to me growing up. I was tickled by how much he loved the tune he’s on, and he’s offered to help us talk the album up. Donny McCaslin, who discovered the last Monkey House record via a mutual friend, is a fellow Berklee alumnus. And I’ve been working closely with Jay Gaydon ever since I moved to California.”