Up Close: Jack Douglas and Jay Messina

50 Years of Experience: The legendary rockers listed in the MC ad promoting the new remote mixing and mastering service by veteran engineer-producer Jack Douglas and recording and mastering engineer Jay Messina say it all about their half a century history. Collectively, they’ve worked with all the Beatles (including John Lennon’s Imagine, Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey), Aerosmith, The Who, Miles Davis, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Kiss, David Bowie, Supertramp, The Blues Brothers, New York Dolls, Graham Parker, Eddie Palmieri, Joe Perry, Public Enemy, Steve Gadd, George Martin and many more.

Developing a Working Relationship: In the late ‘60s, prior to work- ing with Douglas, Messina was a mastering engineer who taught future legend Bob Ludwig how to master. Douglas launched his career as an assistant engineer at Record Plant NY, working with Messina on jingles for major companies and jazz dates. “When I started producing, I wanted to work with someone whose engineering skills and ‘bedside manner’ in the control room I admired,” says Douglas, who has also been composing film scores of late. “From the time we started working on the early Aerosmith Records, a run which included Toys in the Attic, it was clear we could read each other’s minds. We’ve been friends and enjoyed a great working relationship ever since. We’re one of the longest producer- engineer teams in music history.”

Mixing and Mastering: Douglas and Messina launched their digital mixing and mastering service in June in the US to continue their work with artists during the COVID-19 pandemic; they are opening their service to artists in Europe and the rest of the world throughout the summer. Clients can send them audio files (.wav or .aiff) and they will draw on their experience and extraordinary expertise to create dynamic new mixes and (if desired) masters. With Messina working out of his studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Douglas out of his home up the Hudson in Nyack, the two create mixing sessions via Zoom. Messina has his Pro Tools program open for Douglas to see and hear, and through Audio Movers, they’re able to share a full bandwidth audio in real time.

Deep in the Process: Messina says, “I’ll get it into somewhat listen- able shape and we’ll use that session to talk it down and figure out how we can take it sonically to the next level. We may replace their original drum tracks if the track needs it. If they used bad samples on the original session, we will contact them and ask if we can use our own samples to improve it.” Douglas, who is currently building a studio in LA for future recording, scoring and orchestral projects, adds, “Working remotely this way is as good as us both being in the room. The result will sound 75% better and much like a Jack Douglas/Jay Messina production. We’re both very critical of every sonic detail and set a high bar. Hopefully, we’ll bring something to the party the client had not thought of. We will send them our first pass and ask for their comments and anything they might want to change, within reason. We have always created a studio and control room environment that has been conducive for artists, and we are simply extending that to fit the needs of this unique time. Jay and I are in the business of making music fun, and we really enjoy it, or we wouldn’t keep doing it.”

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By Jonathan Widran