I wonder if American Idol musical director, Ray Chew saw this coming. In an interview earlier this year, he felt confident that he would return in the role for a 4th year.
But in an 11th hour switcheroo, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Rickey Minor, who lead the live band from seasons 4-9, at which point he left to lead the Tonight Show band for Jay Leno, has been asked to return, and he said yes!
The idea of having Minor back on the show, where he had worked from season two through nine, came after working with new Idol executive producers Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager of Den of Thieves on VH1 Divas back in Dec. 2012. “We talk all the time,” Minor tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They asked if I would be interested in being a part of the team again? I was like, ‘Yeah!’ I really love working with those guys, then [Swedish Idol exec] Per [Blankens] and [FremantleMedia president of entertainment programming] Trish Kinane came in with a game plan and asked, how we can elevate our game?”
Minor’s answer: “Bringing in a strong, live element and really making distinct arrangements based around the contestants. Because a great song is a great song, but make it contemporary and original, like we did with Adam Lambert and David Cook and all the artists where we helped them find their voice. That’s really the key. … Our mission is to help them find their voice and surround them by an arrangement that really supports their voice and them as an artist.”
The powers that be weren’t done cleaning house yet! A criticism of Chew were his arrangements, which many felt were generic and didn’t help the contestants shine as brightly as they could.
It will be interesting to see what new ideas Ray brings to the table this go around. Of course, he’ll be free from his Tonight show obligations once Jimmy Fallon and his band The Roots take over The Tonight Show next year.