King of the Soundboard

Mack Emerman founded Criteria Recording Studios, made a fortune, lost it all, then lost his mind. Now he's back from the dead and ready to work.

Interviewed in his office at Criteria, Joel Levy is eager to note that 1998 marks the studio's 40th anniversary. He is much less eager to offer comments for a profile of Emerman. "We want to keep it in a nice light," he says. "Because, you know, things happened. Businesses go up, they go down, and that's just part of life."

Like many old Criteria hands, the Alberts are not fans of the new regime. They refer to the facility as "Bacteria." Tom Dowd, though, credits Levy for bringing the studio out of its debt-ridden Eighties slump and into a new decade of big-name acts. Bob Dylan, R.E.M., Bush, and Dr. Dre have all recorded at Criteria in the past few years.

Though Emerman's old wounds are still tender, he has found a home at Audio Vision among his former proteges. The Alberts have given him the run of the studio. They helped him organize the Duffy Jackson session, and now Emerman is trying to line up some time to record another bigtime Miami jazz player, saxophonist Ira Sullivan. He's also developing an outside partnership that would return him to his roots in the music business: recording live jazz at venues around South Florida.

Standing in the doorway of the Audio Vision control room, Emerman gazes at the equipment on which he now plies his trade. It's not his; he didn't build this place and watch it flourish. Still, he gets to test levels, punch in overdubs, set noise gates, adjust microphones so they sit just so. "It gives me something to do," he says simply. "I come here every day.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Miami Concert Tickets