17 February 2023
By Ellie Palmer
Award-winning pianist Ed Bazel chats to us about his experiences inside the world's most famous recording studio... plus he shares his thoughts on his new album, and his recent trip to the GRAMMYs
Abbey Road Studios in London is arguably at the top of most musicians' wish lists when it comes to recording location.
The studio was originally built in a nine-bedroom Georgian townhouse way back in 1831, and was acquired in 1929 by the Gramophone Company where it started being used as a recording studio.
Countless stars walked inside those doors over the 20th century, most notably the Beatles, Edward Elgar, Cliff Richard, Pink Floyd and more. Since the turn of the century, the studio has seen Amy Winehouse, Adele, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and many more huge stars pass through.
The Beatles' Paul McCartney (left) with producer George Martin in 1966 at Abbey Road Studios
For Ed Bazel, an award-winning pianist who has played with many a star across the pond in Hollywood, recording his latest album at Abbey Road Studios was one of his most treasured experiences.
"Abbey Road had been on my vision board for recording music," he explains. "It is the epicenter, the hallowed ground in my book. It was an amazing experience to walk through its iron gates and up the fabled front steps where the Beatles once sat for pictures. And walking into Studio 2 – the studio where the Beatles recorded their hits – was surreal.
"The Steinway D concert grand (with 13 microphones) was set up in the back left corner. To be the only one in the studio, with the lights low, the crew upstairs in the control room on the other side, and me alone recording my compositions – was profound. On that day, in Studio 1, a colossal orchestra was recording a Harry Potter movie score. And in Studio 3, Taylor Swift was recording. And in Studio 2, it was me, Ed Bazel."
Ed poses outside of Abbey Road Studios
Ed recorded his latest album, The London Sessions, inside the famous Studio 2. "I wanted to record the best representation of my creative soul as possible – in the most iconic recording studio possible: Abbey Road Studios’ Studio 2. In the same place where many legends have been before me, I sought to record reflections of my own past, which are carried forth in the melodies on the album."
The London Sessions - aptly named - is compiled of 12 pieces, all but two composed from scratch by the pianist. The album has an incredible compositional back story: Bazel took 223 song ideas and boiled them down to the ten original melodies.
'The London Sessions' is out now on all major streaming platforms
"I always hear melodies in my brain, on my bike, in the gym, in the shower, sleeping, etc," he says. "When this occurs, my goal is to get to my piano, pull out my iPhone to record the phrase, and then refine it and build on it.
"For The London Sessions, I ended up with several different verses and bridge ideas in many different keys. I had over 220 of these that I culled into an album of ten original songs and two covers from the Beatles. I wish I could say it is easy for me to sit down and compose a song in 15 minutes. However, my compositions are thoughtful and it is a labor of love to bring those melodies to life."
He explains his compositional process further: "Composing to me is like solving an emotional, creative puzzle. I consider my compositions as thoughtful, melodic, romantic, and sometimes haunting pieces.
"I love playing the song a hundred times or more to feel it and discovering the subtle nuances of a phrase. I make notations on the music of breathe in here, relax this section, and let it all out all the time. And the best part is finally sitting in the control room and hearing the finished product."
Bazel's love and fascination for the way music comes together and breathes is something he decided to integrate into an online music channel, The River of Calm - Music to Soothe Your Soul.
"[It's] an online music channel that I founded in 2019. It started as music to soothe my own soul. We started with just a handful of independent artists, and today we have 237. And it turns out I am not the only one who likes calming music – as we now have listeners in 166 countries!
"The River of Calm has provided me opportunities to pursue my dreams beyond the keyboard. This includes providing music to others who are struggling with health challenges. With this, I have spearheaded a partnership with Alive Inside a Sundance Film Festival award-winning film about providing music in headphones to Dementia patients, to amazing results.
"In 2023, we’re adding curated music from artists on The River of Calm to Alive Inside’s proprietary headphones and donating them to chemotherapy centers to soothe patients during their treatments, starting with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville."
It's a subject very close to Ed's heart. "My parents and my sister passed away early due to cancer. I often felt helpless as they endured their diagnosis. At the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville... I volunteer my time to play there once a week, quietly with the practice pedal on. Not as a way to “entertain” but instead to soothe and provide comfort.
"The genuine appreciation I get from patients coming in and out, some beaten down, and others stoic, is a real connection to humanity and the power of music."
Ed Bazel poses with Julie Bulger, Manager of Patient- and Family-Centred Care at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, TN, with some headphones that Ed has donated on behalf of The River of Calm
On top of recording at Abbey Road Studios and launching his own online music channel, the pianist had the chance to attend this year's GRAMMYs in LA. "Attending GRAMMY Week is always a bright spot in my year! It’s when I come together with friends and fellow musicians in a spirit of celebration and joy.
"We are not here by accident," he explains. "We have answered the call of music. Not only is it a joy to be with fellow musicians, but the support and love within this group is amazing. I attended showcases with many different styles of music, and no matter what the genre, our fellow musicians in the audience were so supportive and appreciative."
An inspiring musician with an inspiring story that keeps growing. Check out Ed's latest album, The London Sessions, below.