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

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >