Morris Hayes—Mackie Tracktion and the Art of the Groove

Creating the perfect funk groove is all about space. It’s about knowing what to play, when to play, and — just as importantly — when not to play. Morris Hayes got his education in the almighty groove from the masters, spending a decade on the road with Prince’s NPG, as well as stints with the likes of Mazarati, The Time and Larry Graham’s Graham Central Station. It was mentors like these who taught Morris to respect the spaces between the notes—a talent he brings to his current gig, touring and arranging with jazz-funk great Maceo Parker.

Creating arrangements on the fly is a fact of touring life, and Morris is a master at making it happen. He keeps his touring rig simple — an Open Labs Neko keyboard and Tracktion software from Mackie.

“I got the keyboard just before the NAMM show, and Tracktion was loaded on it. I’d planned to have the rig sooner, but due to a shipping mix-up, it arrived just before I left for L.A. I needed to put together a track that evening for the show, and I’d never used Tracktion before. In just a few clicks I was up and running, and I put together a great track in my hotel room in just a couple of hours. It’s really a testament to the program that I was able to learn it so quickly.”

A long-time Mac and DP user, Morris was impressed with how easily he was able to adapt to the Neko’s Windows environment. He credits this to Tracktion’s single-screen interface and ergonomic workflow. “It loads up really fast, and I don’t have to click through a bunch of windows to find what I need. It’s a great tool for the road — I just arm the tracks and let it roll. It lets me be really quick and efficient. And if I need to move ideas back and forth to other programs in the studio, that’s a breeze too.”

Morris has also been working with a new Mackie Onyx mixer, using its FireWire card to record vocals and live tracks into Tracktion. “It’s got great sounding mic preamps with phantom power, and the FireWire interface makes it so simple. I don’t have to think about bussing and all that — the tracks just come up in Tracktion. I’m a keyboard player, not a software guru. I don’t want to worry about technical issues when I’m trying to think about the music, and Tracktion allows me to simply concentrate on creating the right groove.”

To learn more about Mackie Tracktion and Mackie Onyx mixers visit: