Interview with Betty Cantor-Jackson 3/18/10

Can we talk about Cats Under The Stars? It’s such a nice record

I love that record. I built the studio for that record.

We were at Front Street, which was our rehearsal hall. He was playing with Ron Tutt, Elvis’s drummer, and they were rehearsing to go into His Master’s Wheels, which was the same building at 60 Brady; Elliot Mazer had bought it. Jerry was scheduled to bring his band in and record an album. I brought in my live stuff, because any time Jerry played anywhere that I could get to, I went and recorded it, because he was my friend and I loved the music and I wanted to make sure it was captured. I’d give him a cassette of it. He’d stop by the house the next morning and listen to the playbacks of the night before, have a cappuccino and go off to the office.

They never went in and actually did the recording at HMW, because I set up at Front Street and recorded the rehearsals. Tutt listened to the recordings, and he just went nuts over his drum sound – he just loved it. He said “Jesus, why don’t we just do it here.” And Jerry turns around and looks at me and says “you can have the sixteen track here tomorrow, Betty, can’t ya?” and I went “sure, Jer. Anything for you, buddy.” 

Betty Cantor-Jackson & Bob Matthews Photograph © Bob Minkin

It was over at the Film House; I had to go there, dismantle the sixteen-track and set it up. All I had was my mixers, so I would put two mikes on one drum to make a pan pot, left, right, center, that was it. There was my sixteen-track and my mixers. We had purchased a Studer [24-track recorder], and we brought it over. There it was: my mixers and a Studer tape machine. That was our studio and that’s how we started Cats. And then I said “Look, Jerry, I’m really gonna need a board, it isn’t going to work this way. This is great for live – I can record your band all day and night like this – but it’s not going to work for a studio album.”  

I talked to Bob Matthews about what was the best model, and then we got this Neve. I also got a whole rack of Dolbys [noise reduction]. We started recording, and we turned it into a studio. The Neve came in these two huge crates, solid two-by-fours, one full of the frame and one full of the components. And these binders full of schematics. No “How do you put it together,” just a huge box of schematics that showed the circuitry. Ok, well, let’s break this baby out and start putting it together. “Let’s see, this must be this slot…” Assembled it all, got it all up and running, and started recording, and it was wonderful. It was a wonderful tool. I took it to Radio City, and I took it to the Warfield.