‘Together In Vegas’
Michael Ball & Alfie Boe

Vocal arrangement & production
and orchestration programming

A big brash, dynamic album of classic Las Vegas songs

James was commissioned by mega producer, Nick Patrick, on behalf of Decca Records / Universal Music to create and record all the backing vocal arrangements for Michael Ball and Alfie Boe’s latest album “Together in Vegas”.

The collection of songs was a pleasure to work through. The theme being Las Vegas, it includes a Franki Valli and a Tom Jones medley, plus songs such as The Gambler, Sway and American Trilogy by Elvis. With live big band musicians, and a dynamic, powerful production, this album is truly joyous to listen (and dance away) to.

The full album is released today on 28th October 2022 and will accompany an ITV show, where the two singers tour famous Vegas venues and look back at the artists who have performed there. You may not be a regular follower of the guys, but this album is absolutely thrilling, it’s lively, feel-good and driving – well worth a listen – brilliant songs done very well!

It was a fantastic few weeks of work in the summer and particularly wonderful to work with amazing backing vocalists Melanie Lewis-McDonald (Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Marc Almond), Jules Rendell (Gorillaz, JP Cooper, Foals), Mandy Bell (Pulp, Helen Shapiro, INXS), Ricardo Mitchell (Jocelyn Brown, Michael Kiwanuka), James Philip (Tony Momrelle, Kelly Rowland), and Mica Townsend (Blossoms, Foals). What a team!

Additional orchestration – how the big band songs are put together

It is exceptional (these days) to be a part of an album like Together in Vegas because the record presents live musicians playing at their best.

On the road, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe gigged and perfected the song selection before the album production began. They then put down some basic demos to backing tracks.

Dave Arch, famous for being the Musical Director for Strictly Come Dancing is also the mastermind behind the orchestration on this album. The orchestra was recorded in Prague and the rhythm section formed of the highest pedigree of session musicians in the UK was recorded at British Grove Studios in London.

I was on the production team and helped with additional programming and sonic enhancements of the orchestration using predominately Spitfire Audio sample libraries inside Pro Tools sessions. This included harp, glissando, woodwind, brass, percussion, cinematic drums and keyboards (as well as singing a few backing vocals!) It’s what they call the bells and whistles and pixie dust!

The final lead vocals were recorded around a (thankfully mild) dose of covid for Michael Ball. And then the album was ready to be mixed by ace engineer & producer, Pete Schwier, who’s a long time associate of Nick Patrick and both have multi-award winning records to their names. They did a cracking job. This album deserves to follow in the footsteps of previous Christmas number one albums. A privilege to work on!

James Hawkins

Orchestration Programmer

Music production and arrangements

James’ is a true muso to the core and creating satisfying arrangements for production is his talent. If you need a reliable and creative hand to be involved in your project, please get in touch.