The Contemporaries

The golden age of the session player is long over, but musicians still make a living at it. With apologies to everyone who should be mentioned here and isn’t, a sampling of players who might lately be found at work in the recording studios of Hollywood, along with a smattering of their clients.



Rusty Anderson — Paul McCartney, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Jewel, Lisa Loeb

David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos; also accordion, violin) — Suzanne Vega, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, the Long Ryders, Crowded House, Elvis Costello

Smokey Hormel — Beck, John Doe, Beth Orton, Johnny Cash, Sam Phillips, Tom Waits

Paul Jackson Jr. Peabo Bryson, Celine Dion, Herbie Hancock, Julio Iglesias, Michael Jackson, Jewel, Madonna, Luis Miguel, Steely Dan, Luther Vandross

Michael Landau — Christina Aguilera, Michael Bolton, Alanis Morissette, Mariah Carey, Cher, Miles Davis, Celine Dion, Julio and Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor

Wendy Melvoin — Prince, Sheryl Crow, Lisa Marie Presley, Joni Mitchell, Neil Finn

Greg Leisz — Dave Alvin, k.d. lang, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins



Jon Brion — Grant Lee Buffalo, Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Mann, Robyn Hitchcock, Mary Lou Lord, Elliott Smith

Lisa Coleman — Joni Mitchell, Neil Finn, k.d. lang

Skip Edwards — Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Dwight Yoakam, Rosie Flores, Meat Puppets

Rami Jaffee (of the Wallflowers) — Macy Gray, Grant Lee Buffalo, Minibar, Everclear

Jim Lang Smokey Robinson, Stan Ridgway, Kenny Rogers, Cher, the Eels

Greg Phillinganes —Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker

Mark Ramos-Nishita (a.k.a. Money Mark) — Beastie Boys, Los Lobos, Mary Lou Lord, Handsome Boy Modeling School

Benmont Tench (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) — Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Rolling Stones, Rufus Wainwright, Lucinda Williams

Patrick Warren — Michelle Branch, Fiona Apple, Vic Chestnutt, Macy Gray, Shelby Lynne, Natalie Merchant, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Something Corporate, X



Nathan East — *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Eric Clapton, Mary J. Blige, TLC, Ruben Studdard

Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) —Johnny Cash, Alanis Morissette, Mick Jagger, Warren Zevon

Randy Jackson — Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion

Justin Meldal-Johnsen — Air, Tori Amos, Beck, Macy Gray, Pete Yorn



Petra Haden (violin) — Victoria Williams, Everclear, Princess Superstar, Green Day, Beck

Lil Haydn (violin) — Christina Aguilera, Peter Case, Porno for Pyros, Josh Groban, Macy Gray

Larry Corbett (cello ) — Beck, Michael Bolton, David Byrne, Mariah Carey, Cracker, Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Aimee Mann



Vinnie Colaiuta Frank Zappa, Christina Aguilera, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel, John Wesley Harding, Joni Mitchell, Sting

Steve Ferrone — Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Chris Isaak, Chaka Khan, Teena Marie, Bryan Ferry

Danny Frankel — Shivaree, Mike Watt, The Rentals, Eleni Mandell, Peter Himmelman

Josh Freese (of A Perfect Circle) — Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Shawn Mullins, 3 Doors Down, Paul Westerberg, Rob Zombie

Stephen Hodges — Afghan Whigs, Mike Watt, Tom Waits, Sam Phillips, Dave Alvin, Wanda Jackson

Abe Laboriel Jr. (also bass) — Paul McCartney, Shakira, Jewel, Liz Phair, Lisa Marie Presley

Joey Waronker — R.E.M., Badly Drawn Boy, Richard Thompson, Johnny Lang, Beck


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