composer I producer l
mixer I keyboard player
History & Credits: There's not a lot
of guys in music industry who can play keyboards and programm, write
and arrange songs and mix and produce for records and for film.
Meet CJ Vanston who has more than 500 recording sessions under his
belt. He has toured with Joe Cocker, Tina Turner, and Tears For
Fears; served as a writing/production partner for Steve Lukather;
scored most of Christopher Guests movies; produced the most
recent Toto album; and has held down what is possibly the most dangerous
keyboard chair in rock n roll for the past 20 years:
playing with Spinal Tap!
Vanston has contributed to numerous albums, including those by Prince,
'NSync, Barbra Streisand, Ringo Starr, Celine Dion, Bob Seger, Richard
Marx, Tina Turner, Alexz Johnson, Joe Cocker, Anna Vissi, Yellowcard,
Spinal Tap, Harry Shearer, Steve Lukather, Dennis DeYoung, and Toto.
Porcaro and David Paich have been huge influences for me. Steve
Lukather has been a huge influence on me," says Vanston who
produced the new Toto XIV album.
Originally from Michigan, Vanston played in cover bands. "I
was a stickler for learning all of the parts for the music we played
by Toto, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder and more," says Vanston
who studied his favorite bands like a music historian. Vanston moved
to LA in '88 and the first project he worked on was for Richard
Marx, song called "Right Here Waiting", which became a
gigantic hit for Marx. "Richard's dad, Dick Marx was my mentor.
He talked his son into using me on a song. Thank God Richard did
that. So I ended up arranging most of the record ("Repeat Offender")
with him and next thing I know I was in the studio with Jeff (Porcaro),
Vinny (Colaiuta), Dean Parks and Sklar," says CJ who also worked
with Ringo Starr in '93 with Phil Ramone. "Phil again is someone
who called right after "Right Here Waiting" came out.
He loved that single," adds Vanston.
scored numerous Christopher guest movies ("Waiting For Guffman,"
"Best In Show," "Almost Heroes," "For Your
Consideration," the HBO Series "Family Tree," and
the latest one,"Mascots" (Netflix). Vanston also produces
prolific writer, Harry Shearer's records (Harry was Derek Smalls
in the iconic movie "Spinal Tap" and does many of the
voices on the Simpsons).
He has also
been musical director/keyboardist on world tours in 33 countries
with Tears For Fears, Joe Cocker, Tina Turner and Spinal Tap. Over
the last year CJ has written and performed pieces for the Dalai
Lama and Muhammad Ali. He recently worked with Al Pacino in the
recent release "Danny Collins.
work on another legendary guitar player, Jeff Skunk Baxter (Steely
Dan and Doobie Brothers fame), one of the most recorded studio musicians
of all time! "I do well with guitar players. Mostly because
I do everything else BUT guitar and vocals. So that's why I work
well with guitarists and vocalists," says Vanston. Baxter's
latest is a collaboration between Clint Black, Jonny Lang, and Michael
"He (Baxter) is pure feelone hundred-percent feel! And
a lot of times I wont write a chart, because he just hears
this stuff and responds in such a natural way. Its amazing
how fast he picks up things. Its very organic," says
How does Vanston
deal with musical legends, all talented with "A" personalities?
"I can be an "A" personality too. But in the company
of these artists I take a back seat and become a non voting entity
in some ways," says Vanston who has also partnered with Phil
Collen of Def Leppard on a new album.
artists both up and coming and established under his production
company in his studio, The TreeHouse in North Hollywood. "I
just want the band and me. That keeps it very intimate. That's what
creates the environment for creativity, everybody is comfortable
in this room," says Vanston. "The rest is nuts and bolts.
Creating back ups. Making sure everything is recorded correctly,"
Join CJ Vanston
with Grammy-winning producers at NAMM TecTracks 2017
Saturday January 21, 3pm
Anaheim Convention Center, 2nd Floor
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