Thomas �Doc� Cavalier entered the music industry the moment he listened to his heart. He is, in the truest sense of the expression, a �record man� whose talent and inspiration encompass every facet of the business of music. Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, he left the university of the streets to enroll in Tufts, where he earned a medical degree, began a highly successful dental practice, and gained the nom de plume �Doc.� Soon, Dr. Cavalier would become Doc Cavalier when he decided life would have more meaning if he opened mouths to have them sing.
Cavalier is owner and CEO of Trod Nossel Productions and Recording Studios, one of the longest-running recording facilities in the world, and a complex of music-related entities based in Wallingford, Connecticut that includes Trod Nossel Artists. He was well on his way to becoming the leading producer, and therefore chronologer, of Connecticut�s vital sixties garage band scene via his seminal recordings with the Shags when, in 1968, the opportunity to become a partner in the then-Syncr�n Studios presented itself and was eagerly embraced, launching his full-time career as producer, manager, publisher, consultant, and seeker of talent.
America was then in the throes of the British Invasion, but Cavalier, a schooled musician with deep roots in jazz and blues, was one of those who had long felt that rock n�roll was here to stay�not a fad like the Twist or the hula hoop, but truly the voice of America and a revolutionary worldwide voice of reason, hope, and explanation that had reached out and touched Great Britain. As an afterthought and consolation prize for World War II, the Beatles and Stones reached back and touched America�s own soul and new generation, and every day, from wanting a �Revolution� to being able to �Imagine,� Doc Cavalier was one of the best of what America has allowed to be its best, its pioneers.
Syncr�n quickly became a magnet for aspiring artists, writers, and musicians from throughout the Northeast, with Cavalier providing both management and production skills. Out of the Hartford scene came the Wildweeds, then a popular area club act whom Cavalier would ink to Chicago�s Chess/Checker family of labels, producing a string of hit singles including national charter �No Good To Cry.� New Haven�s Bram Rigg Set hit with �I Can Only Give You Everything,� while the Shags continued to burn up local nightclubs and soon scored with a cover of the Lennon-McCartney classic �I Call Your Name.� In the late sixties, members of the Bram Rigg Set and Shags would form a new unit, Pulse. The group, as was the up-and-coming fashion of the times, concentrated on recording an LP that was released on the first of a series of Cavalier-owned and operated records labels, Poison Ring.
Syncr�n grew to encompass a family of artistic endeavors including several publishing companies (among them Linesider, Rohm Music, QVQ, etc.), a photography studio, and a commercial film production company called The Producers. One of Cavalier�s chuckle memories is the day that then-emerging actor Henry Winkler was filmed in the main studio having bags of garbage dumped on his head for an anti-litter public service announcement. The catwalk has since been disassembled, but the spot cans still remain today and provide added ambiance for recording clients.
By the early seventies, the good word on the good sound and mind of �Doc� and Syncr�n (now re-christened Trod Nossel after his music composition pen name) had spread across the States and across the Atlantic, and the company continued to expand. Trod Nossel became the East Coast recording home of Motown�s Rare Earth label, whose producers included Rolling Stones� discoverer, producer, and manager Andrew Loog Oldham, and thus began a professional partnership that continues to the present via the Cavalier/Oldham joint worldwide company, Clear Entertainment. At Trod Nossel, Oldham produced folk star Donovan�s 1973 gem Essence To Essence, utilizing the cream of name studio musicians and also some of Trod Nossel�s roster of in-house talent. He also assembled the 1973 Stones compilation Metamorphosis and edited the bootlegged-only (at the time) Stones videocassette Charlie Is My Darling.
With a luxuriously large, cathedral-ceilinged main room, Trod Nossel became home to the WPLR Concert Series, hosting live in-studio performances by the likes of Steppenwolf, Taj Majal, Chick Corea, Roger McGuinn, and, most historically, Fleetwood Mac (featuring one of the first appearances by the just-joined Buckingham and Nicks). Recorded between 1974 and late 1976, the concert recordings were overseen by Cavalier, who owns them, and are therefore archived at Trod Nossel.
In 1977, with the Poison Ring label temporarily disbanded and punk on the rise, Cavalier joined with partners including journalist Jon Tiven in forming Big Sound, a label that was to bring the world to Connecticut via releases by, among others, punksters Mick Farren and Philip Rambow. Scenesters Alex Chilton and Tommy Hoehn visited TNA in 1977 to produce and play on a session. Also signed to Big Sound were Roger C. Reale, the Yankees (Tiven�s group), a band featuring Mickey Curry, G.E. Smith, and others. Bionic Gold (re-named Big Sound For A Small Planet for British release; many of Cavalier�s Big Sound productions were accorded worldwide release via a link with British Decca/London) was a Phil Spector tribute of performances by many in the Big Sound family of artists backed by �The Big Sound Orchestra.�
The B. Willie Smith Band became a late-seventies addition to the TNA roster. Certainly one of the most incendiary live blues acts ever to burn up and down the East Coast, the �B�s� turned out two LP�s for the label that began, for Cavalier, a production association with the blues that continues to the present, as some members of the band still record at Trod Nossel today. The band accumulated an enormous following, of which frequent calls and e-mails to Trod Nossel with inquiries regarding the band, their releases, and information in general, still prevail. So it was only logical that word of Cavalier�s solid reputation would reach the ears of a transplanted, true-blue Midwest rock n�roll star whose heart and soul belonged to the blues�..Cub Koda. As Cavalier tells it, �I drove up to Trod Nossel one morning at about 3:00 AM�my usual arrival time�to find a beat-up sedan parked in the lot. Out of it stepped a slight, wiry young man with huge eyeglasses. He said simply, �I�m Cub Koda. Will you manage me?� I loved him immediately. I said yes, and we went inside.
�Of course I knew of his work with Brownsville Station�especially 'Smokin� In The Boys� Room,'� Cavalier continues, �but I was unaware of his deep commitment to working with Hound Dog Taylor And The Houserockers [with whom Koda frequently recorded] and his encyclopedic knowledge of and ability to write about all things musical.� Cavalier would go on to manage Koda�s musical and literary careers, as well as publishing, and continues to do so after Koda�s untimely death in 2000, at present overseeing planned retrospective releases as well as a CD of unreleased new songs whose working title is Present Time.
Beginning in 1991 various Cavalier-produced CD�s were in the works and released, and names likeMarshall Crenshaw were called in to perform on some of those releases bearing Cavalier�s production stamp.
Cavalier traveled full circle back to the blues for his collaborations with legends Eddie Kirkland on 1997�s Lonely Street and Pinetop Perkins on the Grammy-nominated Born On The Delta, both recorded, mixed, and mastered at Trod Nossel; with the surviving members of Howlin� Wolf�s band and some of the current superstars of the genre when he associate-produced the critically-acclaimed, 1998 Grammy-nominated Telarc release A Tribute To Howlin� Wolf; and again with a stellar cast of blues superstars for The Songs Of Willie Dixon, a 1999 mastering outing for Telarc.
In the meantime, acclaim was growing overseas for Cavalier�s sixties and seventies productions for the Wildweeds. Japan�s Air Mail Recordings label has, to date, released three volumes music, including both studio and live cuts remixed and remastered under Cavalier�s production supervision. The first-ever retrospective of the historic recordings by the Wildweeds for Checker and Cadet Concept was released by Airmail Recordings in 2001 to enormous acclaim, prompting an American label, Confidential Recordings, to assemble a U.S. compilation released in July, 2002 that encompasses virtually all of the recorded output of the Wildweeds, newly remixed and remastered by Cavalier and former Trod Nossel chief engineer Richard Robinson, plus unreleased demos and photos.
In 2003, Doc�s well-known expertise as a music consultant earned an invitation from author Clayton Walnum to write the forward to The Complete Idiot�s Guide To Home Recording, published by Alpha/Penguin. In it, Cavalier discusses the changes to the industry from 1966 to the present in his usual upbeat syle.
Cavalier�s business partnership with Andrew Loog Oldham in Clear Entertainment, Ltd. also bears testament to the long-running nature of his stature and reputation within the music business As the twenty-first century unfolds, Clear Entertainment administers copyrights, oversees current acts that have been signed, and is the proprietor of many of Oldham�s legendary recorded masters as well as administrator of his literary works, including the first two volumes of his autobiography, Stoned and its sequel 2Stoned, both published in the UK by Random House and in the U.S. by St. Martin�s.
With an anticipated launch of a label planned under the auspices of Clear Entertainment, the continued growth of Trod Nossel�s state-of-the-art recording, mastering and duplication facilities, and a thriving career in both production and consultation, Thomas �Doc� Cavalier continues to personify and edify, in the best sense of the word, a Record�and Music�Man.