Conceived in 1985, Trace Element was envisioned by James Allen and John Woody as an alternative to the largely formulaic Top 40 music of the time. With Allen's lush keyboards and Woody's superb guitar and bass, the result is music which is both familiar and yet truly distinctive.
Trace Elements' immediately-identifiable style strikes a strong, emotive chord, capturing melodic nuances with an unrestrained ease. Allen's keyboards - reflective of Bruce Hornsby, Dave Grusin, John Jarvis and George Winston - flourish when combined with Woody's progressive guitar and bass embellishments.
Trace Element creates "musical images" by painting attractive musical textures and colors. The result is soothing, impressionistic music that evokes inner moods with a gentle grace.
Born in Oakland, California in 1961, and raised in the neighboring East Bay community of Lafayette, James Allen began playing the piano at the age of five. Although his early training was classical, it soon became apparent that his real interests (and abilities) were better served in pursuing the development of his own, personal style. Allen taught himself, playing songs repeatedly by ear and adding his own keyboard personality to each. By the time he was 18, Allen had developed a skilled mastery of the keyboard and a distinctive, personal style. Inspired by artists like Mark Isham, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, George Winston, and Dave Grusin, Allen modeled his own music after the melodic, ballad-enriched style. It wasn't until he entered college that his music truly began to reflect his own unique personality. Using his multichannel recorder, Allen made a cassette of his repertoire, which caught the attention of CBS Records. Two years later, he was signed to a Relax America Records (a now defunct division of Capital Records).
Allen Graduated from UCLA in 1984 with a degree in Sociology, and received a degree in audio engineering from the College for the Recording Arts in San Francisco in 1985. He studied under legendary recording engineer, Fred Catero, (Dylan, Hancock, Santana, Chicago, Pointer Sisters) for two years. Allen has subsequently contributed his musical and engineering talents to Grammy nominated album projects such as "Half Moon Bay" with New Age artist William Aura, and "Traveler" with artists Paul Horn and Christopher Hedge.
Over the years James has earned a reputation as one of the masters of audio for film, television and record album. James has amassed more than 100 film, television and album credits. An award-winning producer, re-recording mixer, sound designer, and post production supervisor, his career spans over 20 years in the entertainment business. Having worked with such legends as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Robert Redford, and Francis Ford Coppola, Paul McCartney, George Lucas, and Phil Ramone (to name a few), James has been on the engineering forefront in dozens of studios throughout the United States.
James's contributions have resulted in a long list of film credits including the soundtracks for Jurassic Park, Backdraft, Terminator 2, Apocalypse Now, Godfather III, F/X II, Five Heartbeats, Showscan, Muppetvision 3D, Soapdish, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bugsy, Rush, Toys, Single White Female, A River Runs Through It, among many others.
During his engineering tenure, James worked as a staff engineer at George Lucas's prestigious Skywalker Ranch. During that time he also engineered and managed Skywalker Sound's luxurious scoring stage, one of the largest sound scoring stages in the United States.
In 1993, James formed his own audio-post-production company, Wave Group Sound. Wave Group was quickly recognized for soundtracks such as George Huang's critically acclaimed feature "Swimming With Sharks", Richard Zimmerman's Sundance Film Festival Winner "Birdhouse" and Tim Hittle's Oscar Nominated "Canhead". Wave Group Sound also created the sonic world of the ABC television series "Bump In The Night" as well as numerous multimedia and interactive game projects for such companies as Interplay, Actavision, Purple Moon, Electronic Arts, and Presage Software Development. James and Wave Group just recently completed Westwood Studio's "Bladerunner" which became a number one selling interactive game for the PC.
Beyond the blockbusters, James has given time to environmental issues through numerous projects for the Smithsonian Institute, Greenpeace, Discovery, PBS, and Nature Company, Arts & Entertainment, PBS, and Marine Mammal Fund. James mixed and sound designed "Where Have All the Dolphins Gone?" which walked away with the 1990 US Environmental film festival grand prize and Best Broadcast Programming award for a TV documentary. It's this diversity in the world of sound has made James an often-requested lecturer around the country.
In the late 1980's, James supervised, sound designed and mixed the soundtrack for Lorimar Telepictures "Gumby", for which he was nominated for an International Monitor award in the category of Best Audio Designer. James also re-edited and re-mixed all the soundtracks for 130 classic Gumby episodes from the 1950's and 1960's. He was also the dialogue editor in the controversial 1988 documentary "The Thin Blue Line", directed by Errol Morris.
Over the years James has infused his broad understanding of audio with a virtuosic command of film and video techniques. He has pioneered many key developments and models in the palette of sound design and mixing. Now as a film and record producer, Allen understands the value of planting ideas and then standing out of the way so artists can flower. His gentle, but firm rapport with artists, engineers and the public has established James as a strong leader and many consider his involvement vital to the success of the projects he works on. Despite Allen's accomplishments as an engineer, his first love remains his music. He readily admits that he's at his most inspired when sitting at the keyboard, and does his most conscientious work when writing music for Trace Element.
Born in Berkeley, California in 1949, John Woody grew up listening to the guitar on a nightly basis. At bedtime, his parents would lull him and his younger brother to sleep by playing Country Western music on their acoustic six strings. It wasn't until high school that Woody took a serious interest in playing the guitar himself. During a noon-time assembly, Woody caught the bug while watching a local band play, and it was then that he decided in earnest to pursue a career in music. Thus began a lifelong study of bass and acoustic guitar that continues to this day. Inspired by artists like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and James Taylor, Woody's acoustic technique reflects his strong country influence. His bass work adopts the stylings of such Rock groups as Tower of Power, Grand Funk Railroad, and Van Morrison.
During the better part of the '70's, Woody spent most of his time honing his craft, playing in local Bay Area clubs and traveling with Country Folk singer, Dan Whittemore, with whom he accompanied on bass. In 1980, Woody collaborated with Whittemore on an album - an experience that sparked an interest in writing his own music. In 1984, Woody attended the College for the Recording Arts in San Francisco in order to expand upon his knowledge of the technical aspects of music production. It was here that he met James Allen and began the collaborative work that is now Trace Element.
Since 1985, Woody has worked consistently with MIDI and computer interface systems, applying these skills to his musical writing techniques. Woody enjoys the idea of computer editing for composition, and has developed into an expert programmer and arranger. His ability to arrange music is also facilitated by his ability to program and synchronize drum machines. Woody's prior experience with drums and drumming techniques has made the transition a natural one. His co-partnership in Trace Element has given Woody the opportunity to focus on musical areas he's always wanted to pursue.
1. Changing Seasons
2. In a Heartbeat
3. Shaded Areas
4. From the Heart
5. What's it Gonna Be?
6. Visions in the Wind
7. Take it for Granted
8. Night to Remember
9. Joyflight Return
10. Forever Now