Recording Jazz

As mentioned in previous blogs, I've been recording a local jazz group called Kodo Jazz Collective so I thought I'd spend this blog talking a bit about my experience, some things I learned and how I went about the whole thing.

The band consists of 5 musicians; a drummer, a bassist, a trumpeter/trombonist, a saxophonist and a keyboardist. I've been predominately live tracking them in the Neve studio as I felt they would play best together (and I was right). Live tracking all the instruments has its merits and its flaws and I've experienced a lot of both but ultimately it has facilitated some fantastic performances.

As some of the artists play multiple instruments, some overdubbing was required but I mostly recorded drums, keys, bass, sax and trumpet all together. The drums I had in the centre of the room with the kick and snare in line with the piano so as to keep it central in my overheads. I used an AKG D112 on the kick drum, an AKG C451 and a Shure SM57 on the snare top and bottom respectively, Sennheiser MD421s on the toms, another C451 on the hi-hat and Neumann U87s as overheads using a recorderman technique. To the drummers left and right were the saxophonist and the trumpeter playing into Royer 121s and in front was the upright piano recorded with two Neumann KM184s. I set it up this way as this was how I planned the tracks to eventually sound in terms of stereo image so when mix them and pan the spot mics there will hopefully be little to no cone filtering with the overheads.

I live recorded 4 tracks for them and overdubbed baritone sax and trombone and plan to add vocals in the future. I was pleased with how authentic and tight the recordings sounded. Making use of microphone null areas and baffles I was able to isolate the spot mics quite well.

Most of the difficulties I encountered were typical random faults and quirks with the Neve console but I felt I was quick to establish a solution or work around. For instance, I attempted at first to record the bass via DI in the rec space however despite changing inputs, leads and DI boxes, I constantly found the signal was being distorted so I resorted to having her plug into the Avalon vacuum tube preamp in the control room and play in there. This resulted in achieving a much better bass sound anyway as I previously just planned to run the DI signal through an amp simulator plugin.

Having never recorded this genre before, I had to do a lot of research in choosing microphones and recording techniques but I'm certainly glad I did because I felt prepared and the sessions ran smoothly because of it. Next time I think I'll grab a few friends to help run this kind of session because setting up for the live track was very time consuming and it would have been handy to have someone else to scratch test for me and that sort of thing.

Anyway, here is a short sneak peak of one of the tracks I recorded titled Debit Card Blues

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