Anatomy of a Recording Session: jazz combo in a cafe

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joelpatterson
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Anatomy of a Recording Session: jazz combo in a cafe

Post by joelpatterson » Tue Jan 11, 2005 12:41 pm

I've known these guys for YEARS and in fact that was me toddling after the lead guitarist into a "real" studio, first time I spent "real" money, at the end of the 1980's. He had a band and a big long song to work on--I was putting together a jingle for the local sporting goods store. I'm a real believer that your first studio experience should be a total rip-off and leave you disgusted, feeling burned and still smouldering. Only then do you appreciate being treated right. Sad but true. This engineer was a CLOWN. I'd brought my Casio keyboard for a rhythm track, so he insists on plugging a power supply in, and since he can't find one, he used one that was sorta the same, but the voltages were different and my Casio went zzzzzzzzzzzpt! Dead in the water. And then he turns to me, totally straight-faced, and says, "Gee, I'd feel responsible, only I didn't do anything!" And the session went on from there.

But I digress, these days my friends have a you'd call it easy-listening jazz quintet. They spin out slow, groove-enhanced versions of standards, and somtimes the results are pretty significant innovations. They do a "Ricki Don't Lose That Number," and instead of the smug, sneering Steely Dan version, there's is slower, delicately acoustic, almost heart-breaking. The girl singer delivers it in a desolate, lonely whimper. The accompaniment is spare, regal, insinuating.

And all would have been well with my roving refrigerator-sized remote rolling rack (HD-24, Sytek pres, A&H mixer) if someone would have told me the lesson this gig would teach me. Always record everything. Every monitor send especially. As it happened, the monitor sends were smooth and punchy--the direct outs were squashed, spittery, if I'd bothered to check--and so the spooky and delicious sound we all heard that night with the vocals... was not captured. So I told them this was pro-bono. I ran off a set (of 2 CDs) for everyone as best I could with the grungy vocals, and then later they asked me to transfer about a dozen of the songs onto 16-bit ADAT for them to mix. And that was pro-bono too. There isn't any limit to how much you owe the guy who first let you into the wonderful world of recording.
Mountaintop Studios
~The Peak of Perfection~
Petersburgh NY 12138

mountaintop@taconic.net

jajjguy
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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: jazz combo in a cafe

Post by jajjguy » Tue Jan 11, 2005 4:05 pm

Did you figure out why the monitors sends sounded so much better than the directs? was it just plain gain-staging? care to speculate for us?

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joelpatterson
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Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 5:20 pm
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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: jazz combo in a cafe

Post by joelpatterson » Tue Jan 11, 2005 5:50 pm

As I pondered it all--I mean, I had just screwed up this whole project, which put me in a reflective mood--it must have been that the headroom on the LR outs was more forgiving than the direct outs--and I might have been stupid enough to have compressors where compressors needn't have been.

And to divulge any more might open me to criminal prosecution.
Mountaintop Studios
~The Peak of Perfection~
Petersburgh NY 12138

mountaintop@taconic.net

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