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recording jazz?

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I'm currently leading a jazz trio,piano,bass and drums

my question is how is the this unit usually recorded.

i've listened to early van gelder recordings and you can

clearly hear where each instument is in the stereo spread.

i'm assuming these were recorded live to 2 track...i'm really

not sure,but then when i listen to a trio recording by lyle mays

its hard to tell where each instrument is,it seems as though everything

is coming from the center.Does any one know the method for recording a

jazz trio,any input would be greatly apreciated.

By the way my gear consist of a akai dps 16,an alesis masterlink,two sm57's

"Great talents ripen late"

"The highest notes are hard to hear"

Lao Tzu

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Howdy, fellow jazzman. What brings you to this planet? http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif


I've gotten some fairly sweet results using my Roland VS1680, but you've gonna need a few more mics than two SM57s. There is lots of great info in old issues of Recording magaizine and other pubs about this topic, but I'll give you some suggestions.


What kind of room are you recording in, how big, etc? If you're all in the same room, forget about getting pristine separation--the best you can hoe for is to subdue the bleed through a little and be on the lookout for phasing problems from multiple mics picking up the same source sounds.


Assuming you're recording a baby grand, I'd open the lid a foot put two mics inside, one angled towards the higher notes and one towards the lower notes. What kind of mics? I use...ahem...what I have: either two AKG 414s or a 414 and a C1000s. it ain't state of the art, but it works.


Is the bass acoustic? If so, does he have a pickup? Not that many people like the sound of basses recorded with only the the pickups, but I definitely recommend blending a pickup with a mic'd signal, usually about 80% mic and 20% pickup. Put him behind a baffle or a padded wall or somethihng--let him get a little of his iown space around the bass, away from the other instruments.


The drums can be recorded with any number of mics, including one, but I tend to use three for "at home" recordings: Tow overheads and one in front of the bass drum.



Doug Robinson


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good points doug


a few other ideas:


The setup is often influenced by how many quality mics and mic pre's you have available. Sm57's don't cut it, you need good condensers (or ribbons). Borrow or rent at least a pair but don't waste your time with only sm57s. Using only a few good mics will sound much better than using a lot of cheap mics.


With 2 mics you can do the purist method of positioning the trio as you would like to hear them in the stereo field (maybe pnoL, drumsC, bassR). Place the mics about 7" apart at 90deg angle. Keep the trio close together with the piano lid wide open toward the mics. Move the bass closer to the mics as needed for presence. You have to experiment with this a bit for best placement, but when done properly it will reflect the balance and dynamics of the way the trio actually plays. It will also capture the sound of the room you are playing in so don't even try it in an ugly sounding room.


With a few more mics you could also close mic each instrument. Don't worry about leakage as long as it sounds good. Thats why only quality mics should be used so the off-axis response will still be pleasant.


If it becomes a pain, don't rule out the possibilty of booking a day at a reputable studio. Then you can just concentrate on playing instead of worrying about the recording part too. A well rehearsed jazz trio in a proper room can make a direct to 2 track recording very affordably.


The difference you have noticed between early Van Gelder recordings and a more modern Lyle Mays recording is largely a choice of presentation. Van Gelder chose to pan things extreme left or right while Lyle panned the instruments tighter and let the room sound or reverb to extend out to the edges. They are both valid choices and its just a matter of preference which one to use.


just my 2cents, good luck and have fun

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one primary thing to remember is that the traditional jazz recording sound relies heavily on the use of ribbon mics, with their warm, rounded off top end. i would recommend a blumlein pair of ribbon mics (like the royer r-121s) as a main stereo pair, and use condenser accent mics on each instrument, plus a stereo pair as drum OHs and a kick drum mic.


sunridge studios

salem, oregon

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