A MASTER’S TOUCH-PAUL BUCKMASTER GIFT TO MUSIC By Sandra Castillo
A MASTER’S TOUCH-PAUL BUCKMASTER GIFT TO MUSIC
By Sandra Castillo
One of the greatest albums I ever added to my vinyl collection was Nick Heyward’s North Of A Miracle. Truthfully speaking, I consider it to be one of the quintessential musical masterpieces of the last one-hundred years. Recorded in 1983 at Abbey Road Studios, the album celebrated a creativity maturity, of sorts, for the British singer, who once fronted the alt-New Wave/Jazz progressive band Haircut 100. North Of A Miracle shimmered and soared on the volition of its gorgeous orchestral maneuvers, elevating the recording to near-epic status. The creative alliance behind the album, aside from Heyward’s own contributions as composer, producer and brass arranger, was a coalition of massive talent by way of Producer/Engineer Geoff Emerick, pianist Brian Gascoigne, percussionist Tony Maronie, drummer Dave Mattacks, guitarist Tim Renwick, bassist Pino Palladino and the unmistakable genius of Paul Buckmaster, who provided the lush string arrangements. It was the virtuoso’s deft touch and propensity to combine flourishes of classical music with contemporary Rock and Roll that garnered NOAM an inclusion into one of 20th-century’s finest musical archives.
Buckmaster was a pioneer and purveyor of classical musical, which he so astutely entwined through the recordings of many of his constituents. He was credited for bringing a certain level of emotional latitude and elan through the application of orchestration, which he generously employed throughout his string arrangements. Along with having worked with Heyward, Buckmaster also collaborated with Elton John, Miles Davis, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Katy Perry, No Doubt and many others.
When he was a lad, Buckmaster studied the cello, prompting the notion that the child prodigy would, more than likely, pursue a career in classical music. However, like so much that occurs in life, destiny eventually extended other opportunities his way, including an invitation to work with Elton John on his eponymous album, ELTON JOHN. From that emerged the hit “Your Song” and the agreement to work with the British super star, once again, on future projects. Their creative endeavors resulted in some of John’s greatest musical efforts ever-Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, which yielded the magnificently stirring “Levon,” and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player.
Buckmaster’s professional reputation and proven track record, as one of the best in the music business, was unsurpassed, save for another fine talent that left this world much too soon. American composer and conductor Michael Kamen, who worked with Guns N’ Roses on their stunning ballad, “November Rain,” in 1992, passed away in 2003, also comes to this writer’s mind, when remembering those who achieved so much in the realm of music.
In 2002, Buckmaster won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement on Train’s smash hit, “Drops of Jupiter.” He also contributed to cinema by way of soundtracks for such films as 12 Monkeys, Midnight Crossing and the James Bond action thriller, The Spy Who Loved Me, which garnered the movie’s theme song, “Nobody Does It Better,” an Academy Award nomination for singer Carly Simon in 1977.
Sadly, Paul Buckmaster passed away on November 7th, at the age of 71. Although he has left this mortal coil, his dynamic, rousing string arrangements will live on forever….