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Buena Vista Social Club piano sound
Old 14th February 2003
  #1
Little Labs
 
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Buena Vista Social Club piano sound

Last week a big client took up residence in the little Studio C at Chalice for a year. He wanted all the gear moved out, so I have at home, on a long loan, some B&W nautilus 801s and some aragon paladium mono blocks, really nice stuff. I t took me quite some time to set them up where I liked them, at first they were a bit analytical and cold, but now I have found the magic positions where they sound ****ing great . I am listening to everything in my CD collection. Now I am typically a rock guy but I am in love with the piano sound on this Buena Vista social club record. It is the most natural sounding piano, a little out of tune but glorious none the less. Anybody here have any ideas of how that was done, if you have the record take a listen. I t might just be room mics and no close ups. I dunno but I dig it, do you?
Jonathan
Old 15th February 2003
  #2
The guy that recorded it was Jerry Boys. He used to run a B level studio in London called Livingstone.
Maybe Al knows him and can ask him what he used.
It was probably some pre-communism recording gear, 50's American, like the cars down there.
Old 16th February 2003
  #3
Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso
The guy that recorded it was Jerry Boys. He used to run a B level studio in London called Livingstone.
Maybe Al knows him and can ask him what he used.
It was probably some pre-communism recording gear, 50's American, like the cars down there.

It was recorded at EGREM studios formerly Panart.

Egrem is a special studio because it is run by the state. It is compromised of 3 different studios: Areito,Siboney and Estudio de 18. Because it is run by the state, the studio is ran in three different shifts(I know wow...shifts!!!). You can't just call up and book time there.

EGREM itself(Label and Studios) is equivalent to Capital here in the states.

Some of the greatest musicians have recorded there(and continue to do so). It is far from a "old pre comm studio". I've worked with lots of guys that have recorded there(here in NYC and Miami). Estudio de 18 is a world class recording studio. Sure I've heard from some guys that they can use more mics, but who can't?
Old 17th February 2003
  #4
Jax
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I think Ry Cooder having a hand in the production certainly helped with the sounds on BVSC. When it comes to acoustic groups, the guy just knows how to make things sound like flowing, organic lessons in restraint. The talent he surrounds himself with is the main ingredient, however.
Old 17th February 2003
  #5
I agree. If it hadn't been for Ry Cooder we would never have heard Buena Vista Social Club.
Jonathan, have you seen the documentary about them?
I haven't seen it but it might shed some light on the recording process. It's definitely out on DVD - at least in the UK.
Old 17th February 2003
  #6
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Buena Vista Social Club and Afro-Cuban All Stars

Nothing wrong with having some pre-communist German microphones...
Is that the same studio in which the Afro-Cuban All Stars were recorded? I agree, the sound on the album is fantastic - very natural with dynamics and a wonderful combination of ambience and intimacy. Having great musicians to record has a lot to do with it, I presume...
Cheers,
Old 18th February 2003
  #7
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That's the sound of people in a room, my friend. All playing music. At the same time. Ahhhhhh.

Mix had a fairly extensive write up on the project back when the record was boomin'.
Old 18th February 2003
  #8
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Jerry Boys has a very good reputation as an engineer over here, and although Livingstone wasn't SSL/Studer equipped I think its unfair to describe it as a "B" Studio.

The Cuban sessions was subject of a fairly lengthy write up by Audio Media I believe. A lot of gear, (particularly mic's) were shipped out for the session and if you look at the documentary that they made about the making of the record and the All Stars band you will see most of the recording mics are things like U87's and 414's.

Ry Cooder was producer on the sessions and indeed played on some of the tracks and the tour along with his son. Great music and a fabulous legacy.


Regards


Roland
Old 18th February 2003
  #9
Quote:
Originally posted by Roland
Jerry Boys has a very good reputation as an engineer over here, and although Livingstone wasn't SSL/Studer equipped I think its unfair to describe it as a "B" Studio.
No slur intended. It is merely a practical method of describing the studio. I think it is interesting that Jerry Boys came to the Buena Vista project from a second division studio rather than 1st division.
If you think Livingstone is equal to Air, Whitfield St or Abbey Rd in terms of equipment and reputation I will regrade it.
As I say, the point being not many people had run into Jerry and he wasn't from one of the established big names in the London studio list.
Old 18th February 2003
  #10
Re: Buena Vista Social Club and Afro-Cuban All Stars

Quote:
Originally posted by Bernd G
Nothing wrong with having some pre-communist German microphones...
Is that the same studio in which the Afro-Cuban All Stars were recorded? I agree, the sound on the album is fantastic - very natural with dynamics and a wonderful combination of ambience and intimacy. Having great musicians to record has a lot to do with it, I presume...
Cheers,
Why do you say pre-communist?

If you know anything about Cuba or have ever been there, than you would know that it has never been a Communist goverment(there has never been a Communist goverment period).

It has always been and continues to be a dictatorship, albeit a modern one. Sure if you listen to Castro(and he is looked up to by leaders around the world because he stood up to the United States and didn't back down) you'd think that Cuba is fine and dandy. No Aids cases, alot of the doctors and surgeons around the world go there to study medicine, everyone they choose can got ot college for free, but the people still can't vote, they can't follow a religion, they can only make so much money, they can't leave the island except on a boat, etc...

This sounds like a Dictatorship to me.grudge
Old 18th February 2003
  #11
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Point well taken Thrillfactor,

but let me ask you. Do you really think of the US as a democracy?
Cheers
Old 18th February 2003
  #12
Re: Re: Buena Vista Social Club and Afro-Cuban All Stars

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Why do you say pre-communist?

If you know anything about Cuba or have ever been there, than you would know that it has never been a Communist goverment(there has never been a Communist goverment period).
It's just an accepted term with regards to Cuba that even learned politicians use, so I don't think you should pick on a Gearslut.
If you're serious, take it to some political forum.
If you're not serious, I'm sorry I obviously left my funny bone in bed this morning.
Back to gear chat.........
Old 18th February 2003
  #13
Quote:
Originally posted by Bernd G
Point well taken Thrillfactor,

but let me ask you. Do you really think of the US as a democracy?
Cheers
Honestly BG...

NO!!! tutt

Look at the whole situation in Iraq(I know Jules I am breaking the rules here by stating this).heh

BG, my point wasn't as much on goverment policy, but the comment someone made calling Cuban recording studios pre-comm or comm. Its has to be lesser just because its on an island that people don't know much about?

There is great music being produced around the world that isn't necessarily made in English or US studios. Maybe I am biased because i work on music from all over(Hindi,Guyanese,Japanese,Korean,and lot of Latin stuff). And I get to see and hear it in action.

Ah...whatever!!!grudge

I think I am going to shutup now.
Old 18th February 2003
  #14
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
the comment someone made calling Cuban recording studios pre-comm or comm. Its has to be lesser just because its on an island that people don't know much about?

There is great music being produced around the world that isn't necessarily made in English or US studios.
That was me and I don't know where you got the 'lesser' from, or any inference of lack of quality outside of the US and Europe.
Jonathan commented he loved the piano sound. I surmised that the studio might have been chock full of old gems (in recording terms) in the same way there are so many stunning 50's cars on the street.
I've since been informed that Cuban studios are very much up to date, but in my opinion there is a lot to be said for older equipment and the older ethic of recording as an art form rather than the 'up to date' Auto Tune and Sound Replacer approach.
Old 18th February 2003
  #15
Quote:
Originally posted by chrisso
That was me and I don't know where you got the 'lesser' from, or any inference of lack of quality outside of the US and Europe.
Jonathan commented he loved the piano sound. I surmised that the studio might have been chock full of old gems (in recording terms) in the same way there are so many stunning 50's cars on the street.
I've since been informed that Cuban studios are very much up to date, but in my opinion there is a lot to be said for older equipment and the older ethic of recording as an art form rather than the 'up to date' Auto Tune and Sound Replacer approach.
Hey Chrisso,

After reading this, I humbly apologize.

I guess i took it the wrong way(I am both Latin and lived in Miami for a while, so Cuba is a touchy subject).heh

Again i hope no offense taken.

Adios.
Old 18th February 2003
  #16
Of course on offence taken.
You know, in Europe at least, I think we see Cuba as a cool place where there's lots of good music going on.
Old 18th February 2003
  #17
Gear addict
 
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Apologies and Questions

Old 19th February 2003
  #18
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If you like the piano sound of BVSC, check out Rubén González' 1st solo album ("Introducing") recorded at the same time as and BVSC and Afro-Cuban All Stars 1st CD - it is even better sounding than BVSC. Same musicians (not all of them though), same studio & engineer.

Ibrahim Ferrer's (Ry Cooder produced) solo album is also very good sounding, as is Omara Portuondo's.

For a more modern approach with a similar sonic texture, check out Afro-Cuban All Stars (2 great CD's) and upright bass player Orlando Cahaito Lopez' solo CD "Cahcaito".

All above Cuban CD's are released on World Circuit, recorded & mixed by Jerry Boys.

/Mats

PS
Jerry Boys did a fantastic recording of Ali Farka Toure, "Niafunké", in a small farming town. There was a very intresting article in MIX about this remote project.

I guess Jerry Boys is doing a lot of works for World Circuit.
Old 19th February 2003
  #19
Quote:
Originally posted by Mats Olsson

I guess Jerry Boys is doing a lot of works for World Circuit.
Yes. I think both label and producer are specialist in this field.
Old 19th February 2003
  #20
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World Circuit recently bought Livingstone Studio's (formerly owned by Jerry). This along with the fact that Jerry has done many projects for them in the past probably has something to do with why his name appears on so many of the projects. Whether Jerry is actually on the staff for Livingstone since its purchase I couldn't tell you.

Regards


Roland
Old 20th February 2003
  #21
Smart Research
 

Dont you love that Pro Audio is really a small village ?

I had'nt connected Jerry Boys to BVSC: still can't help Jonathon any on that piano sound.

I seem to remember livingstone had good gear and control rooms though, way back when I worked round the corner. And an SSL in the 80's I thought ?

Another day, another db.

Al.
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