Composer/engineer Charles Eble dies at 65
Eble worked on many musical projects, aiming for ideal sound...

May 19. 2017

By Steve Barnes

Charles Eble, a recording engineer, composer, sound designer and producer who died earlier this month, was a man largely unknown to the public but cherished by the bands, advertising agencies, theater companies and radio and television stations he helped to realize the ideal sound for thousands of diverse projects over four decades. He was 65 and had battled cancer for six years.

A keyboard player in the early years, Eble, known universally as Charlie, came to recording from the performance side when Russell Slater, then a colleague at an epoxy company in Ravena, convinced him to join a band. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last more than 40 years. Largely self-taught in the studio, Eble took to the industry quickly.

"He had the right knack. He was a good businessman, and he knew how to work with a lot of different kinds of people," said Slater, who in the 1980s was Eble's roommate at the Greenfield Center house Eble inherited from his grandfather and turned into the home for his Woods End Recording Studio. A composer and performer who today lives in Schuylerville, Slater was among the caretakers for Eble in his last months, when his previously 250-pound frame had shrunk to half its former size.

"He was a geek about recording equipment, but he was a smooth geek — he had a salesman's gift of the gab, and he really had the technical expertise to back it up," said Slater.

Among the artists Eble worked with over the years as recording engineer and producer were Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Kahn, Judy Collins, Al Jarreau, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Dave Brubeck and Maceo Parker.

He created commercial jingles for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga County Fair, recorded live performances for broadcast on WAMC radio and was a primary sound recordist for WMHT television.

Eble's vast list of awards includes many for audio books, advertising and industrial projects and a Grammy nomination for editing and mixing on the album "Got to Serve Somebody: The Gospel of Bob Dylan." He also enjoyed a collaboration of more than a decade with eight-time Grammy-winning producer Joel Moss and worked on TV and theater projects as varied as sound remixing for PBS' "Downton Abbey" and sound design and music for dozens of productions at the former New York State Theatre Institute.

"One of the things he never lost was his sense of curiosity. I think that's why he could keep everything fresh each time," said Will Severin, a Saratoga composer and producer who worked with Eble on more than 100 TV commercials and other advertising campaigns, films and stage productions at NYSTI, which was founded by Severin's mother, Patricia di Benedetto Snyder.

Eble was known for identifying and nurturing young talent. One of the most prominent was Jack Daley, who worked at Woods End in the mid-1980s, helping on advertising projects during the day and recording his own music at night.

"Working with him and being allowed to use his studio was what shaped me and led to my career as a session musician," said Daley, who was the bass player for rocker Lenny Kravitz for 15 years and has played with artists including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, James Brown, Janet Jackson, Jon Bon Jovi, Mick Jagger and Prince. In addition to his session work, Daley today has a recording studio of his own in Asbury Park, N.J. He is currently rehearsing for a tour with Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, the longtime side project for Bruce Springsteen's guitarist Steven Van Zandt.

"In a business where it seems like most people are out for themselves, Charlie wasn't," said Daley. "He wanted to surround himself with talented people, and he went out of his way to give them as much as he could."

Married in the 1980s and long divorced, Eble had one son, who died as a young man, Slater said. He is survived by his sister, Patti Urell, and a large extended family. A funeral and memorial reception were held May 11.