Mr. Cantrell is the exclusive engineer for Grammy nominated Steinway artist, Lenore Raphael. Through her weekly radio program on purejazzradio.com, Mr. Cantrell has worked with legendary jazz musicians such as – Jon Hendricks, Bucky Pizzarelli, Bob Kindred, Mike Longo, Vic Juris, Bennie Wallace, Warren Vache, Joel Frahm, Gene Burtoncini, Jay Leonhart, Marlene Ver Planck, Ronnie Whyte, Enrico Granafei, and the list continues to grow!
My heart lies with recording acoustic music, especially classical and jazz. This love of live acoustic music stems from my childhood. I count myself lucky to have grown up in the age of vinyl records, and for having had a fatherwith a wonderfully diverse record
collection that would with a wonderfully diverse record collection that would serve as my initial musical education and hone my critical listening skills. 40 years later as a professional musician and audio engineer, I find myself still returning to those old recordings from the 40s through the 70s for inspiration, and to relive what was a magical experience in my youth. There was something to be said for the warm analog sound in which you felt the music as much as you heard it, and ultimately, for me, there was a deep connection with the human experience through all these recordings, something that the current cookie-cutter brand of the recording industry has lost in my opinion. Don’t even get me started about the full square foot of space for art work. How many of you were mesmerized by classic album covers?
There are so many tools and tricks to recording, and there are certainly industry standard tried and true methods of isolating instruments, capturing the audio, then later organizing it, and turning it into a highly artistic product, but I believe the real magic occurs when you place performers in the same space. Just think of those first albums by the Beatles, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, or Malcolm Fragner playing Chopin…it was absolute magic - hearing truly talented artists performing in the same space with no studio trickery to cover up lack of ability (ie. Pitch correction software, etc).
So my approach to recording will always be to capture the sound as organically as possible, especially the sympathetic relationship between the instruments or singers as they work together. I want the end product to sound as though you were in the same room with the performers, and that you feel the same energy they put forth. In my recordings you will hear the grit of the performance, and not the sterility of isolated instruments. Don’t get me wrong, instrument isolation is an important tool in recording, but it is not the only answer to capturing clean audio.
“Simply stated, John Cantrell is one of the most gifted recording engineers I have had the pleasure of working with.His many years as a consummate musician govern an impeccable approach to capturing acoustic instruments in their most natural and organic setting.
He is meticulous in his choices and placement of microphones, a master of digital audio editing, and his discerning ears make him a critical active creative partner in any serious recording project.
His recording of my most recent work, String Quartet "O Campeão" dedicated to Hermeto Pascoal was absolutely fantastic and is receiving high praise for its sonic and artistic quality. I unconditionally recommend him for the recording of any contemporary music, be it classical, jazz, pop, world, or any other genre.”
—Richard Boukas, composer, guitarist, vocalist, faculty, New School Jazz and Contemporary Music
“John Cantrell has the greatest ‘ears’ I’ve met in a long time!”
—Marsha Hillman, staff writer for All about Jazz and All about Jazz.com
"John has shown himself to be a wonderful musician and also a fine sound engineer. I have done several projects with him. He is conscientious, meticulous and has great "ears"!
— Steinway Artist Lenore Raphael
Invitation: Live at St. Michael’s, 2008 (Nominated for three Grammy awards in 2008).
Class Act: Live at Steinway Hall, 2009.
The Teares of the Muses (NYU’s Consort of Viols):
Vater unser im Himmelreich, 2012
These Foolish Things
String Quartet “O Campeão”, 2012
The St. Michael’s Choir and Orchestra
John Cantrell, Conductor
Brahms: Geistlicheslied | Sound clip >
Mozart: Dies Irae from Requiem Sound clip >
Recorded live, May 2011
If you’ve ever seen an episode of the classic TV show “Sanford & Son,” then you can only imagine what my office space looks like. So, here you can download a list > the instruments I’m currently using for gigging and available for use in the studio