Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

August 7-13, 2003

cover story

Pulling the Strings

"Back Stabbers' by the O'Jays is the first thing I remember being monumental," says Gold. "The moment when we became a force."

After four decades of The Sound of Philadelphia, master arranger Larry Gold finally gets his name above the title.

Pick up a Billboard chart from 2003. Christina Aguilera's Stripped, Vivian Green's A Love Story, Kelly Clarkson's Thankful, Musiq's Juslisen, Justin Timberlake's Justified. Grab one from 2000. Boyz II Men's Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, The Roots' Things Fall Apart, Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun, Common's Like Water for Chocolate, Jill Scott's Who Is Jill Scott?.

The 1970s? Every record from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International catalog, its Thom Bell productions and MFSB players.

One man has been in the center -- as producer, composer, arranger, studio owner, player -- of Philadelphia's black music revolution, one stretching from roots in '60s soul to today's neo-soul. That man is Larry Gold: a white, Jewish, Curtis Institute prodigy from Frankford. To Jay-Z and The Roots, he's "Don Cello." Gold was the cellist for seminal Philadelphia '60s rock acts Woody's Truck Stop and Good News. He also played in MFSB's string section, creating the lush background to the sophisticated soul sound of Gamble & Huff. His cello can be heard on every record from The Salsoul Orchestra, Vince Montana Jr.'s Philly-based unit that put the "la" in Latin disco. He started arranging -- for Teddy Pendergrass and McFadden & Whitehead at Sigma Sound Studios -- and never stopped.

Nearly every production that's come from his North Seventh Street headquarters, The Studio, has had Gold's stringed imprint. Platinum-selling producers double as collaborators, tenants and friends: The Roots, Andre Harris and Vidal Davis, the Axis team of James Poyser, Vikter Duplaix and Chauncey Childs. Hit-producers are in and out of The Studio with delicious regularity, rarely escaping without a Gold arrangement. Rodney Jerkins and Jazzy Jeff Townes, both of whom have their own multimillion-dollar state-of-the art facilities, use Gold's space when they need a dense, swinging string sound.


STOP SHORT: Gold spent a few months in '67 playing cello for Todd Rundgren's old band, Woody's Truck Stop, who made San Fran-influenced psychedelic rock.  

"Here he is, equipped to his backside, putting strings on rap," says Richie Rome, a Gold collaborator from way back. "I don't get rap. There's no harmonization. No song. It's nothing but a pure unadulterated beat that drives you crazy. For Larry to put strings on it is like putting cologne on a goat. But Larry does a great job of it."

When Gold was a teenager just getting started in the music business, Rome was one of the first arrangers he worked with. Now a plain-speaking 62-year-old, the pianist, composer and former member of MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother, the flagship instrumentalists of Philadelphia International Records) finds himself still working with his old partner after all these years. He recently spent time at The Studio orchestrating and producing a record for jazz chanteuse Rosie Gilbert. "Larry's an honorable guy who will do anything for you -- sweep the studio, give you a great cup of tea. He did all right for himself," he says.

These days Gold is a light, limber 55-year-old man with a receding hairline and the tiniest of ponytails, a nod to his hippie days. After 30 years of making and producing music, of standing in the shadows of friends Gamble & Huff, The Roots and Jill Scott, Gold is finally putting out a solo record: Larry Gold Presents Don Cello and Friends (Rapster). Still, in a sense, it's another collaboration in a long history of them, since it puts to work some of the artists who benefited most from his skills in recent years. "Don Cello is me hanging out with them and learning their story and sound and those guys hanging out here and learning my thing -- it's exactly what I did with Gamble, Huff, Don Renaldo and those guys," says Gold.

Gold tosses around his past -- a decent-sized slice of Philly music history, really -- like a Wiffle ball. "Woody's Truck Stop was a few months. Good News was a year. Watching Gam make records -- that was a good 15-year stretch. But the past is the past. I don't think I've held onto it in quite the same way a lot of people did." Gold claims not to recall much of the wheres and hows of certain players and executives, dates of his recordings or for whom he recorded.

The man is too busy for reminiscing. One interview is cut short so he can run to Manhattan to arrange strings in a secret session for Janet Jackson. Bubba Sparxxx and Timbaland also needed strings that week. While Gold chats in The Studio's swank billiard room, Andre Harris is dropping tape with Glenn Lewis.

Inside, The Studio seems little more than a hangout where kids with expensive ideas can chill and watch the game on plush couches. It is here that social interaction turned into the collaborative spirit of neo-soul. People hanging out, playing on each other's records.

Whether The Roots have a project in the works or not, they're hanging at the studio if they're in town. "That social atmosphere made it possible for all of us to just hang, talk, watch the game. We go to Patterson's around the corner. Order food at 5:30. Sit in front of the TV the rest of the night. And talk," says Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, drummer for The Roots. "There's nothing like that on earth, trust me. No studio with that communal centerpiece."

Gold watches over everything like a father letting the kids run around the house. "Larry's the man," asserts Harris while on a break. He and Jazzy Jeff started using Gold as an arranger when The Studio opened its doors in 1997. On his way back to recording, Harris talks smack about Gold. "If you only knew," he mock whispers into the tape recorder. "You gotta go back to the '60s to get the dirt on him."

The Golden Child

"I could have hustled in bars playing violin before age 10 if I wanted," says Gold, whose first instrument was a plastic Elvis guitar. "But I don't think my mother would have had that." He eventually sought out the cello, an instrument that could dwarf even the short kid's inferiority complex.

He started taking lessons with the Philadelphia Orchestra's famed harpsichordist and composer, Marcel Farago, who taught the kid the virtue of writing his own scores. By 11, Gold learned to arrange and began studies at the Curtis Institute of Music. His heroes were Andrés Segovia and Pablos Casals and Picasso. "Not normal, right? I know. But they looked so giant there. They were artists on a daily basis. That's what I wanted."

The child prodigy played concerts publicized citywide. But he couldn't act on his pop-soul brother feelings, and couldn't be in a band or make money playing cello. "Curtis paid for your education," says Gold. "They frowned on anything perceived as hustling."

But his cello drew the attention of the Philadelphia Board of Education who, through Curtis, gave him paying gigs at the Union League throughout 1961. "They always had someone talented and young play at their cocktail parties to make an easy $20."

A chance meeting with an old man in a heavy overcoat and a violin case under one arm turned young Gold's life around. "You play good, kid," he said.

The mystery man was Don Renaldo, Philly's premier contractor of young string and brass talent. At that time, he was enlisting musicians for the Cameo-Parkway label. "Wanna make a record?" was the second thing Renaldo said. That was the beginning. Renaldo got Gold work and practically adopted him. "When the kids call me Don Cello, I think of it as an homage to him."

The kid played cello on sessions during the days of Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell, among old Italian men amazed at the maturity of his sound. This was also the first time he collaborated with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

Gold's first recordings were under the great arrangers -- Richie Rome, Jack Faith, Vince Montana Jr. "I was like 16 when they were in their 30s -- some of the same MFSB guys that I'd play with 10 years down the line. Between there, Regent Sound and house gigs for the Latin Casino, I cut my teeth on commercial recordings and commercial music," he recalls. "I would have been at the Latin longer. But my hair was long enough that they called me a hippie."

"The thing about Larry, then and later, was that he could hang after a session," says Bunny Sigler, one of Philadelphia International Records' principal songwriters. "He could talk our talk and walk our walk."


By 1967, Gold wound up in Woody's Truck Stop, a bar band whose soul was provided by Todd Rundgren. When Rundgren left to form Nazz, guitarist/singer Alan Miller took charge and the band became freakishly psychedelic. A chance meeting with drummer Bobby Radeloff at The Artist Hut, a local folk/blues coffee joint, eventually landed Gold a spot in the band.

The redheaded cellist suddenly became part of what was, increasingly, a dope-nosey, noisy scene influenced by the sounds, sights and smells of San Francisco. "They were so loud, I couldn't play my cello the next day," he says of Woody's.

Gold parted ways with the band before they recorded their Smash/Mercury LP in 1968. "It was a shame," he says. "I dug it, watching girls dance, hanging with kids my age as opposed to the old Italian guys. I was a suit-and-tie guy gone wild. But it got too messy. The politics were bullshit. Too many friends died. The sound wasn't refined enough."

After Woody's, Gold spent six months jamming with tabla players and classical guitarists at Larry Magid's Electric Factory club on Sunday afternoons. After a month of Sundays, Gold hooked up with soundtrack composer and childhood friend, Michael Bacon (son of Ed, brother of Kevin).

Like Gold, Bacon had been a prodigy, playing banjo, guitar and other strings since age 8. "We were in Philly's All-City Orchestra," says Bacon, 54, from his Manhattan home. "I was first cellist and he was the last. As we went on, I must have slipped because he got to first and I wound up as last."

They lost touch after high school only to reunite when Bacon, back from college, saw Gold with Woody's, an "unforgettable night" at Sansom Street's Second of Autumn. "Seeing them changed my life," says Bacon. "I knew I had to do something more challenging."

That challenge became Good News, a duo meant to soothe Gold's savage beast. "I was looking for a cure-all," he remembers. "Something that didn't make my ears ring; something to cure me from taking too much LSD."


Together, Gold and Bacon had a quaintly folkish, spartan sound with complex changes and words that were takes on Bible scripture. Good News was controlled by a spiritual guru named Murray Goldman, who shared much of his religiousness with Gold.

He says neither he nor his family had any religious connection, but Bacon says otherwise -- that Gold was deeply touched by Goldman's sentiments. "Remember," says Gold, "I did a lot of LSD."

"I didn't know what the [lyrics] meant," says Bacon. "But we were very good at putting them to music and I was very good at singing them with conviction." For lost souls seeking salvation or healing (like Gold?) Good News was the answer.

Under Goldman's guidance, the duo earned $75 a week for their services -- not much to live on, especially for Gold, who had just married his girlfriend, Vicki.

Within a month of the band's start, they'd piqued Magid's interest. That led Good News to the Isle of Wight Festival in England, an enormous concert headlined by Jimi Hendrix. They also became the house opening band at Electric Factory. "They were a really easy setup," laughs Magid. "Two guys. Two amps. Fun to work with. But we had to keep throwing Kevin out -- who, at the time, was like 9."


NEWS STAND: After Woody's, Gold (in the light shirt) and Michael Bacon started the hippie-folk duo Good News, trusting some of their lyric-writing to a spiritual guru. They became the house opening band at the Electric Factory before calling it quits in '71.  

After opening for folk legend Dave Van Ronk at The Second Fret, label interest emerged. They became the first Philadelphia rock band signed to Columbia. Good News' eponymous record came out in 1969 with Goldman's lyrics for "Open the Gates," "Losing My Mind" and "I'll Sing a Song for You" surrounded by the wifty, wafting melodies of Gold and Bacon.

It did not sell well. "[Columbia exec Clive Davis] was disappointed, but enthusiastically looking forward to a next record," says Bacon. The duo met with infamous Monk/Miles producer Teo Macero and were leaning toward something more esoteric. Davis axed that, telling them to move to Nashville and write singles instead. Unhappy with what little touring they had done ("stuffed in cars between here, Chicago and Michigan," says Gold. "We were very big in Michigan"), Good News had had enough.

They split in 1971. "Had they stayed together," laments Magid, "I think they could have been huge -- a genuinely significant group."

Bacon went to Nashville, and Gold headed back to Gamble & Huff, who were just about to sign a new distribution deal -- with Columbia and Clive Davis. "Funny, right?" laughs Gold. "Clive's a good guy. I never asked if he remembered Good News. I didn't remember. Why should he?"


"When I did Good News I wanted to mix classical and pop," says Gold. "But it wasn't my vehicle. Woody's Truck Stop was a blues band that I'd drag my cello out to and play with. But that wasn't me."

Philadelphia International Records wasn't exactly his thing either, but it was the best thing. Located at 309 S. Broad, the label and its connections to Joe Tarsia's Sigma Sound Studio were in bloom as they entered Columbia. Their smoothness and sophistication came to define PIR and the city's sound. "That came from the guys we had hired, that Don Renaldo, the contractor, had brought in," says Richie Rome. "Huff hired the rhythm. But Don and I had the strings and brass cold." Rome should know the importance of great strings, having once been music director for Paramount Pictures. He has Grammys for working with Chaka Khan, gold records for producing The Tymes and Simon & Garfunkel and his own familial act, The Richie Family.

"I didn't like that period of music. But that's what was around, what was big," laughs Rome. "Not to boast, I knew a little bit more than they did. That's why they got me first -- before Bobby Martin and such. I was the only orchestrator in town that knew what the hell he was doing."

"Back Stabbers' by the O'Jays is the first thing I remember being monumental," says Gold. "The moment when we became a force. I think we got that name -- Mother Father Sister Brother, whatever -- because we were a force, like a family. We sounded like a family. Also, we were that acronym: mother fucker son of a bitch."

Currently recording neo-house dance jazz with his adult children, Vince Montana may be the closest to Gold in his post-PlR career. He utilizes what he created for PIR while maintaining a foothold in the present, working with Masters at Work, Groovejet and Armand Van Helden. His Philly Sound Works label cranks out the standards of This One's For You and his own compositions on Heavy Vibes.

"All that old stuff is great," laughs the 70-plus Montana. "But I spent that money already. The stuff I'm doing with my daughter and son will blow the past away." The South Philly native was another child prodigy, an 8-year-old playing orchestra bells, chimes, marimba, xylophone and vibraharp. He played the Las Vegas strip, recorded "Venus" with Frankie Avalon, performed in Philly's Mike Douglas TV show band for KYW and wound up at Cameo-Parkway before it suffered financial trouble.

When PIR's arrangers added strings to dense productions, The Sound of Philly went from socially conscious funk to fluttering cream-cheese-smooth soul, played by all ages and colors. Tarsia remembers a famous line Gamble uttered when asked about having so many white guys playing black music: "My color's not white. My color's not black. My color is green.' That was what we were about: an old fat Italian guy playing next to a dude with an afro. They used to boast about being that band," says Tarsia.

"Who wouldn't have wanted to be that band, to play that sound?" asks Gold.

Critics have written that Gam & Huff made R&B smooth, but what they really did was make the gruffness of James Brown's soul more palatable for the radio. The sound was still less pop than Motown. "It was addictive to hear those strings and that brass," says Gold. "It was even more addictive to play." Gold says performing Montana's arrangements at PIR and Salsoul was an education. "Vince's stuff moved. Had a richness and texture that was musical, big and funky."

By 1979, PIR's newest charges, songwriters Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, sought to stretch into performing. "They were crazy," says Montana. "They used to come in to the studio when Gamble was trying to produce, stomp their feet and put their heads to the floor to hear how great a song of theirs was. Kenny always chased them out." It took a few years to convince Thom Bell and the writing team of McFadden, Whitehead and Jerry Cohen to leave the swinging swirl of its strings to Gold who, in turn, gave them a platinum eponymous album in 1979.

"From there, other people, like Teddy [Pendergrass], became customers, so to speak," says Gold of records he arranged, like Teddy.

Still, there were problems. Charges of payola in 1976 (later dropped). Disco. The death of disco. A parent company -- CBS -- who called PIR's bluff when it came to more money. Pendergrass' paralyzation after a car accident on Lincoln Drive in 1982. Petty jealousies over who did what when.

No one's willing to dis anyone over falsely claimed writing credits; everybody says Sigma and PIR created that sound -- from the engineers who EQ'd the drums to the guys who set up D77 RCA microphones to get softer, less metallic tones from the percussion. "I'm a private person. That's water under the bridge," says Montana. "But if you ever want to know the truth of who can write or wrote what -- ask them what follows a B flat or what augments that and watch them stutter."

"Philadelphia did not create disco. People capitalized on good rhythm music that was coming out of here," says Tarsia of the turn music took in '79 and '80. "Everything became 120 beats per minute. People got sick of that so people got sick of Philly. Gamble & Huff became multimillionaires. Perhaps they lost their fire. The need for that sound ceased."


Gold's seemingly boundless serendipity carried him from PIR's messy end to what would be his next phase. The '80s were a busy business haze. He found a gig composing children's music with animator Paul Ferlinger on shorts for Sesame Street between 1980 and 1985 -- countless episodes in which Gold wrote and recorded music and sound effects at various studios across the city. "If you showed me one now, I wouldn't recognize it save for the music." He became a hired gun for ads. "I was only as good as my next job."

Suddenly, he found himself tired of being a hippie-gypsy. He needed to regain his foothold in R&B. With writing/producing partner Jerry Cohen, Gold bought a Synclavier in 1985 and moved into one of Tarsia's rooms in Sigma to produce, write and arrange for the Whitehead Brothers and Freddie Jackson, kids' music for Nickelodeon and stuff for Pop Art Records. Gold worked with producer Joe Nicolo at his Studio 4, built and designed studios for Jazzy Jeff and worked with Boyz II Men at Kajem/Victory studios till 1995.

"I watched dance music turn toward young R&B and rap in the mid-'80s, only to hear, by the early '90s, a mature soul sound coming through," says Gold. "The music I had produced and arranged for Boyz II Men and Gerald Levert was becoming more and more noticed by more and more listeners." Younger cats like the street-busking band The Roots were noticing too.


With partner Jon Smeltz, Gold broke ground on North Seventh in December 1996, starting with two rooms, a long lease and options to grow. Acoustic architect George Augspurger designed the hexagonal recording space. The Studio opened in March 1997.

First to record there was Michael Bacon, who stayed close to Gold through the disco years. "I always come down and use his studio. When I have a session for a small chamber group, I go there," says Bacon, who recently scored Red Betsy. "Yes, I still think of him as the same stubborn person."

The paint wasn't even dry when, separately, Tori Amos and AC/DC stopped by. As he started to expand, so did the music within. People wanted in.

Fatin Dantzler of Kindred, the husband-and-wife team who perform "All That You Are" on Don Cello, knew Gold from Victory Studio, where Dantzler recorded with Bell Biv DeVoe. "I had just come back to Philly from Atlanta. Everywhere I was, Gold was there." When he, producer David Ivory and The Roots recorded their first albums at Sigma Sound Studio, Dantzler became key in linking Gold and The Roots. "I was part of the production backbone, a family who got everything done by any means necessary," he says.

He knew of Gold's string sounds. He also knew that Gold, who had just opened The Studio, would be an apt landlord for a band looking to gain independence. But for Ahmir Thompson, Sigma was the home base of Philadelphia sound. "I was married to Sigma, man," says Thompson. "It had history, a great marketing hook. It had vintage equipment. Artistically, we had established ourselves and our sound. I didn't want to go anywhere."

Dantzler changed Thompson's mind by playing Gold's bare-bones demo of what would become "The Boy is Mine," a smash hit by Brandy and Monica. Thompson was struck by the haunting orchestra arrangements. As a test, he gave Gold a musical interlude, a blip that in Gold's hands became epic, something Tariq Trotter (The Roots' Black Thought) and Common had to rap over. It turned into "Act Too (The Love of My Life)" on the Things Fall Apart CD.

"Every reel from there, every song, I had to have his strings on them," says Thompson. The Roots made "Adrenaline!" at The Studio at the end of 1998 and never looked back.

Every Philly producer and player got addicted, either moving in or utilizing Gold's strings. "Philly's not a one-horse show where producers are concerned," says Thompson. "But really, by '99, everybody was coming here, whether they had their own studio or not."


GOLD METTLE: "Being in Philly has been a blessing and a curse. Right now, we're blessed," he says referring to his current stable of regular collaborators like The Roots, Bunny Sigler and Gerald Levert. "But those people haven't been here my whole life."  

For some, getting Gold on a record was an attempt to recapture the old PIR community-spirit grandeur. "Ivan [Barias] and I came up in the hip-hop era. Bringing our love of Gamble, Huff and Gold to come up with something new made sense," says Carvin Haggins of Mama's Boys productions. Their multimillion-selling Musiq (Soulchild) CDs, Juslisen and Aijuswanaseing, helped redefine Gold's success aesthetically and commercially.

Rather than seeing Gold's sound as overly orchestrated or symphonic, Haggins insists Gold's washes of strings are that extra but necessary layer -- sweeping but minimalist. "Gold's touch was like putting icing on an already sweet cake -- a soul symphony."

1999 was crucial, the year the sound of Philadelphia was re-established. Neo-soul.

Thompson doesn't dread the term. It is the quick, sound-bite definition of a raw, live hip-hop sound mired in lyrics that mirror real life and love that utilizes the musicality and orchestration of Philly's past.

"Larry's part is experience," says Thompson. "He brings the TSOP thing to a whole new generation of people. But mostly, Larry provided the social atmosphere that I assure you is the reason neo-soul was created at all. He provides the space, the social development."

"I've just been along for the ride," jokes Gold. "It's their fashion. I'm just fitting into it."


In a business environment that is now very corporate, Gold surprisingly gets to work alone. "Hey, most of the time I send my arrangements to the client without ever talking to them. Only 1 percent of the time, I'll get a client who doctors my work with ProTools."

What does someone who worked with J. Lo and Justin make monetarily -- for time, writing, putting together a small orchestra? "Music, like anything else, is only worth what you're willing to pay for it," says Gold. Money is a touchy subject. Not just because it's a private and legal matter, but because part of Gold's financial ethos is a tightrope walk between his hippie bartering days and the reality of the modern record biz.

"I could tell you I'd charge you a hundred dollars for arrangements and I'd have clients lined up down the block. I could tell you one arrangement costs $5,000. Then how many people would I get?"

So he can't or won't say what he charged Janet or Erykah. "The union will tell you on big jobs like those that I'd get $5,000 for my time," he says casually.

He won't say definitively which hooks are his. But he does note that his string bits have been signature hooks on big hits. "I'm not mad. That's the business. If you charge for an arranging session -- and not, say, co-composition -- and you create a line, a signature, you'll get that fee, nothing more. Now if that was a string signature in a movie "

Don't cry for Gold; The Studio overflows with clients. "Being in Philly has been a blessing and a curse," says Gold. "Right now, we're blessed. But those people haven't been here my whole life." Precarious payment schemes and writing credits, a business quietly suffering from home-recording advances and smaller budgets and label cutbacks due to Internet music trading saw Gold finalizing his desires to explore. Like soundtracking movies. Like Don Cello.

Business partner Heather Lowery, 24, is a necessity and a blessing for Gold, keeping his busy schedule in order. The Spellman graduate with dreams of entertainment law met Gold in '99. "He was a sweet man looking for a receptionist," says Lowery, who began at The Studio as general manager within a year of meeting him. "I could tell he needed something greater than that." Booking his strings and studios, Lowery lets Gold concentrate on arranging, writing and playing.

Gold defines himself "first as a musician, then a hippie, then a businessman. And strings. They define me." It's through strings that he's been made over as the bridge between that past and this present. That's what the solo CD is: modern modish soul tunes dressed in regal stringed clothing, with today's emphasis on rhythm. The key to Gold, to Don Cello and to his arrangements is that he -- and the listener -- will look for one simple line to define the orchestration, to define the emotion.

The disc is a mix of all schools, an amalgamation of eras of mostly live sounds, mostly written by Gold, rich in the history of his R&B, with its own classical twitches. Its modernity can be traced to the young artists who surround him. "These kids are as good musicians [as we had] in the old days," he says. "The singers -- Aja [Graydon, of Kindred], Floetry, Carol Riddick -- even better than what I worked with before. More willing to take chances."

He wrote from 6 a.m. every day and took inspiration from tapes leftover from a '99 Roots session, borrowing the ghostly soul of "Loving You." Trotter wanted to do "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," But he wanted to make sure McFadden & Whitehead were on it. Gold wanted Gerald Levert. "I always do ballads with him. So when it came to my record, I wanted him to burn down the house."

Gold also enlisted Bunny Sigler, a man whose voice resounds in his head like an urban opera of Philly. "I had his falsetto hitting its highest highs just like he did back on those first records I did with him."

"He wanted a love song" says Sigler of Gold's "Can I." "He knows I'm the love man of Philadelphia. You want love? Come to me. But I'm wild -- did my Mario Lanza thing with that Marvin Gaye break. He had to play Clyde Beatty to my wild man, tame the wild man with his whip, so to speak." The resulting vocal is something so serene and soaring, it makes sense that Sigler's next project is the title role in a soulful Othello in Venice this September. He figures it was his contribution to Don Cello that sealed the opera gig.

At 6 a.m., Gold sits in his little room, The Studio's A room, and messes around on a black Steinway, a 73 Rhodes piano or with his Synclavier. An old sign above a beat-up old mixing board bought from Sigma reads, "Buttons are my friends."

He once dreamt of scoring epic films; there are hints of this on Don Cello. It's the soundtrack to a series of shorts -- stark, sharp, imagistic R&B reels whose sonorous images linger in your brain.

Gold laughs about being a white Jewish kid not only digging R&B, but growing up to play, arrange and produce it with the very best of them. "I'm old in a young business, white in a black music. I was a lone weird cookie in a sociable collaborative art form. I was a finisher. The tie-er together."

"After all this time and all the people I've worked with, I made a soul record with my cello stuck in the middle. That's my life to a tee."

-- Respond to this article in our Forums -- click to jump there

Quick and entertaining New York City local news, events, food, arts, sports and more.

contact us

My City Paper

Website powered by cmsbot

My City Paper • ,
Copyright © 2020 My City Paper :: New York City News, Food, Sports and Events.
Website design, managed and hosted by DEP Design,, a New York interactive agency