Another Kind of Blue - the Latin Side of Miles Davis / The Remotester's thread
Awhile ago, some folks over at the Remote Possibilities forum asked me to post some tunes for review.
It’s taken sometime, but I got permission from the producer at Half Note Records to upload a couple of tunes from their catalog.
I picked two of my favorite numbers from Conrad Herwig’s CD entitled…
“Live at the Blue Note -- Another Kind of Blue -- The Latin Side of Miles Davis.”
The tunes are “So What” 9:43 and “All Blues” 8:17.
This recording also features Paquito D’Rivera, Brian Lynch, Dave Valentin, Mario Rivera, Edsel Gomez, John Benitiz, Robby Ameen & Richie Flores.
All arrangements were handled by Conrad Herwig and Brian Lynch.
This live Aura Sonic recording was produced by Jeff Levenson.
It was recorded, engineered and mixed by myself.
Jon D’Uva handled the ProTools rig during the mixing and editing stages.
My audio technicians on location were Duke Markos, Jon D’Uva, Mark Tomase and Andy Bigan.
I did my best capturing what it may sound like seated right in front of the band at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC. I kept the dynamics open and the sound as wide as possible -- It’s almost like being there in person.
Jon D’Uva shall upload the tunes from his computer in the next few minutes, please stand by.
Thank you for the kind words. We are all very pleased with the results.
I noticed more folks have download “So What” then “All Blues”. If you haven’t listened to “All Blues” you must check it out. It’s a very cool and fresh version of the tune.
Matous, I’d be happy to elaborate on mics and chains a bit…
This recording was captured during six sets over three nights. The artist & producer picked the best performances for the record. When tracking the date, EQ was not used. Good microphone placement was our key to success. If I weren’t happy with a particular sound, my associates would move the mic(s) around until I was happy with the results. In some respects it’s like EQing, instead of twisting a knob, we’re moving the mics around until it’s pleasant to the ears.
Most of the mics stayed the same throughout the three nights. I wasn’t happy with the bass sound I was getting, so we changed out some of the bass inputs for the second and third nights. I was very pleased with the alteration. We started with a MD409 hanging over the amp, An SM98 surrounded with foam in the f hole, a KM140 and a B&K on stands. We ended up with a MD441 on a stand, the SM98 in the f hole, a KM140 in the bridge suspended with rubber bands.
Here’s the rest of the mic input list.
Acoustic Piano had two C414TLIIs.
Both Flutes had a KM140 on them.
Overhead percussion had two R121s.
Percussion Toys had a KM140 (a MD441 was used on the first night).
Trombone had an M149.
Trumpet had a TLM170.
Clarinet had a TLM103.
Alto Sax had an M149.
Baritone Sax had a U87.
Foot had an M88 just outside the hole in the skin.
Snare had a TLM103 about 6 inches from the drum.
Drum Overheads had two M160 pointed straight down over the kit.
I used a TLM103 to capture the entire kit. It was my “one mic got it all” mic. I positioned the TLM103 between the bass, snare, rack and floor tom drums near the drummers right knee.
The room mics were three DC96Bs positioned just right to obtain a perfect balance of audience response, room tone and band sound. These mics were blended with the stage mics during the mix.
During the origination, the signal chain was pretty simple.
We had a 24 channel mic splitter on stage which we took the direct signal (house got the transformer) that ran through our snake to three True Systems Precision8 preamps directly to Tascam DA98HR & DA78HR machines recording at 24 bit – 48K. We used two Yamaha 01Vs linked together as our monitor desk which went to two Tascam CDR2000 CDRs. We also had a Tascam CDR1X4 dubber to make extra CDRs when applicable. The monitor speakers used were sMackie HR824s. We surrounded ourselves with a bunch of Tube Traps which we set up in the main office upstairs from the club. It was pretty low tech if I do say so myself. Like I’ve said a number of times before, “It’s about the ear, not the gear.”
I achieved that distant yet clear piano sound by placement and EQ during the mix. I found a pocket for each and every instrument. I used EQ to pull out frequencies that collided with other sounds. And I added EQ when I needed the sound to cut through the mix.
Getting everything seated nicely, was my main goal.
We definitely mute any tracks that are not helpful in the mix.
The first day of the mix session was “D’Uva” time. Jon spent a day, transferring the tracks to ProTools. He continued to clean and tweak the tracks until they were sounding just right. I never mix in the box. We took each track output individually into the console in Jethro (remote truck # 1 of 3). The second day of the mix session was when I came into the picture. That’s when I got a chance to mix and blend the tones.
It's true, I didn't mention the mix desk, compressors, et cetera.
We mixed the record aboard my silver truck -- Jethro.
Click on the above link for a look at the mobile unit's standard gear list. In addition to the truck's on board equipment I used equipment from my Portable Inventory. Click the link to see the list.
Both links need serious updating, but it should give you a good idea of the equipment we had access to.
I had an SSL FX384 on the Otari Status 18R's stereo buss feeding a Crane Song HEDD 192 back to the ProTools Mix Plus rig. I never leave home without that HEDD -- The Tape simulation circuit is awesome.
I believe I took a few pictures of the event. I shall look for them and try to post soon.
This recording was captured during six sets over three nights. The artist & producer picked the best performances for the record. When tracking the date, EQ was not used. Good microphone placement was our key to success.
Well, I didn't mean tracking... nextime I have to be more clear ;-). But you certainly used EQ in the mix. While I see the armada of mics I'm sure you had to.
Three mics on the bass? Wow, I have to try it on occasion.
If I tracked this date with one of my trucks, I would have EQ’d when essential.
I don’t like to EQ when we're set up in a non-control room environment. The Tube Traps helped a lot, but since we recorded digitally, I wanted to wait until the mixing stage.
If it was a live broadcast, that would have been a totally different story. I would have EQ'd post the multitrack any track that needed adjustment beyond mic placement to help maximize the stereo mix.
IMO, when recording live upright bass using multiple mics and a DI (if applicable) is the only way to go. I want as many options as possible. When that band is really blowing, it's hard to keep the bass detail present in the mix. Having multiple alternatives helps me much.
Originally posted by SoundEng1 Steve,This Sounds Incredible!! Great Job ! Do you have any photos of the setups? What console did you mix on?
Man, I thought I had some photos of the date but, I was mistaken.
Having nine musicians on that small Blue Note stage was intense to say the least. Not only because there wasn't much room to move -- We had to double mic many of the instruments because of FOH issues and such.
We were more then happy to split our mics but, they didn't want to use any of our condensers. They liked their dynamics a lot more then we did. I believe we only shared the talk, foot and drum overhead mics...
Life went on, the show was great and our recording was a complete success.
These are amazing sounding tracks (to my ears at least). Everything makes you feel so much like you're "right there". All of the instruments seem so clear and full. I'm jealous! Very very nice.
Can you talk a little bit more about the layout of the band on stage (how crowded were they on stage - or spread out good?)...also, what was their monitor situation? Were they using wedges or something else? How many/where, and did you do anything special to dodge the monitors? That always seems tough on gigs I record...so I'm curious to hear how you handled that.
Can you talk about the DC96B's some? Why do you like them and where did they go in the club relative to the stage/PA speakers??
Also, when you said "KM140" - do you mean the Neumann vocal mic or those little minature Neumanns?
The layout on stage was almost impossible. Many of the musicians were no more then 6 inches apart from each other. Nine cats on one little stage. Crowded is a polite way of putting it. Even with the stage extension they were still really jammed up. To help limit the amount of extra items on stage we attached many of our recording mics directly to the existing house mic stands via LP Claws and ROWI clamps. This kept the functional tight space bearable for the musicians.
The club uses at least 4 active monitor wedges hung from the ceiling and one floor wedge for the piano player. The ceiling band monitors point down onto the musicians. It seems like the only way to go when you consider how tiny the stage is. There’s plenty of room for a trio, but nine cats – wow. The monitor mixes were handled at FOH. We came in to only capture the last few nights of their weeklong engagement. Their monitor levels were already set earlier in the week.
We usually let monitor engineers do their thing. I like to work around their set-up and place mics according to my “virtual gobo” technique. We go to the engineer when we come across a problem that cannot be rectified on our own. We can usually hear feedback start way before the venue engineer can hear it due to the fact that we're in a remote control room away from the sound source. We like to give the proper heads up when applicable. Other then that we usually don't have to deal with them much.
I love my Milab condensers. I get very clear / open sound when using these large rectangular diaphragm mics. DC96Bs give me that large diaphragm tonal quality I like in a much smaller package. I can fit them almost anywhere I want. Besides using them as room mics, I like placing them on vocals (group, chorus, choir, etc.), on (some) acoustic pianos, over string sections, as drum or percussion overheads and such. I will have to show you where I place them some day.
When I refer to a KM140 – I’m talking about Neumann’s miniature microphone system with detachable capsules. We used KM100 series electronics with the AK40 active cardioid capsules.
The CD is available in the jazz section of many retail stores. You can also buy it directly from Half Note Records via the Blue Note Jazz Club website giftshop.
Yes indeedy....that was very helpful indeed. Great info - wonderful details. Man, that stage sounds freakin' packed full!!!!! Yowzy! I guess you just have to love the bleed in situations like that. You guys must have been fiddling with those mics a lot with all that action on stage. I don't know how you manage...
I am totally unfamiliar with these Milab mics you used, but I'm curious now and will have to do some digging to learn more about them. They sound pretty special.
I'm not familiar with your "virtual gobo" technique...maybe you've described it previously...I will do a search for it. But if you haven't talked about it before, how about discussing it some?
Was the piano a full size beast? Lid open or closed? 414's placed where abouts? Is this typical for your jazz piano work? So far, my best piano sounds seem to come from a closed lid with a 414eb and a u87 resting on pieces of foam! But I need to learn some new tricks! ;->
Thanks again for sharing all these war stories and details of the sessions. This is very helpful stuff.
Steve I hate to admit it but this is scary. How in the world did you deal with monitors overhead, lage diaphram condensers, smashed togather musicians, less then ideal flexablility in mic placement etc. I have to give it up to you I haven't even listened to the mp3 but it doesn't matter. I would have been terrorfied of ruining my reputation and I would have turned the gig down. I commend you for having the balls to do the gig in the first place.
You are my God, well almost LOL, just a occasional lurker here. I do appreciate you sharing this !!
So R121's were used on the perc(specifically congas) overs???Amazing.
On another note, sorry I haven' t followed the thread as much as I should have, but is this the original tracks or mixed and mastered?
I guessing its the MP3 but its seems kinda dry for latin ? Sorry I do realize its a "live' capture. This genre is my mainstream (by roots of being a conguero. bongocero etc..), but is there a new movement in sonics?
Yeah, that stage can be very tight. Believe it or not there wasn't tons of bleed. And when there was a bit of bleed we only used the good kind.
Certain mics had to be fiddled with. Bass, percussion – I think that was about it.
Milab is one of the best kept secretes in this business and that's okay with me.
The term "virtual gobo" technique was coined in an article I was in called, “Drum Miking for Live Recordings.” It was in the April 2001 issue of EQ Magazine. I talked about how recording a live performance can be a challenging gig because you want to achieve the best possible recording without changing the artists’ world or make then uncomfortable. We cannot always place gobos on stage to isolate musicians during a live show, but there are some simple ways to take advantage of the microphone polar pattern to increase isolation and reduce leakage problems. That’s what I call the "virtual gobo."
Unfortunately for the readers, the diagrams displayed within the EQ Magazine article did not conform to the concept and descriptions in the story. The drum setup and mic placement in figures 1 and 2 were totally incorrect. According to the article, the mics would have been placed much differently. On the other hand, the drum setup in figures 3 and 4 were correct but the mic and speaker placement were not. I believed the correct “bird’s eye view” diagrams would have been a lot more effective… EQ published the diagram corrections two months later (June 2001) but you know… Many of the readers never got the opportunity to connect the article to the rectification. ...And life continues on, as they say.
I utilize a number of mic'ing techniques for the acoustic piano. It ultimately depends on the musician and/or producer whether or not the lid is closed, open on a long or short stick. It was a while ago; I should ask D’Uva if he remembers what we used and if he recalls what brand and size it was. If the lid were closed we would have done one of two things -- Use mini ROWI clamps or have made cradles for the mics out of Gaffer’s tape. I personally like to completely remove the lid when I’m close mic'ing the instrument. I don’t like the strange phase shift I hear on certain notes or chords when you close mic a piano with the lid on a short stick. The long stick is an improvement but still not perfect. On the other hand when you use the long stick the lid sends up scooping all the other instruments into it's sound board and that's not very pretty either.
There's nothing wrong with scary ventures. They keep us on point when we take them on.
Those overhead monitors were not that bad. For the most part, they're closer to the musician's head than if they were on stage. The only instrument we had issues with was the upright bass. It was where most of the bleed came from. We kept changing the mic combination until it was workable.
Man, when those horns blow into the LD mics bleeding is not as serious of a problem as you may think, especially because of the proximity of the mic to the bell of the horn. Go listen to the stuff -- it does matter.
I cut my teeth on gigs like that in a way. Back in the late 70's and 80's I recorded a lot of gospel records among the rock and other stuff I was working on. The majority of the gospel stuff I was recording had a crunched up band section to deal with. Everyone was on top of each other with no room to spare. In many cases it's still the same tightly placed setup today. I learned how to get almost total isolation with good mic placement alone. Using the microphone's polar pattern to my benefit was the key. I didn't need the balls to do that gig... it was the same old situation I’ve been cozy with for decades.
Wow, Tonio... Should I give you the ten bucks now or a little later for saying that stuff? Thanks!
The MP3 file is off Conrad Herwig’s Half Note Records release. The MP3 didn't make it sound "kinda dry," I did. I was trying to capture the sound of the Blue Note jazz club as if you were seating smack center right in front of the stage. I really didn't want to add a ton of verb just because I could. I believe there's plenty reverb, it's just blended back in the mix. If you were at that mix session and I turned off the FX returns you would have heard a significant difference.
The reverb blend on that record was based on the size and sound of the room than whether or not it was a live recording. If we were in a larger venue, I would have considered longer reverb times. Since I mainly capture sounds in their original environments, I tend to keep it closer to what it would have sounded like if you were there in the room. With that said, if the producer was going for a different feel or sound I would have mixed it like they heard it.
Great stuff. I prefer All Blues - the band seems more together and are really grooving like beasts. Must have been great to record those guys.
Not taking anything away from your great recording, but I'm sure the job must have been made a great deal eaiser by the brilliant arrangements - especially with regards to everything having a space in the mix.
Nicely nicely nicely.
One thing I'm curious about - where on the stage was the kit set up? I ask, because a lot of these dry jazz club recordings have the kit's panned as they would be on stage (which I prefer, though not on headphones!). I just notice that you've spread the kit across the entire sound stage... any comments on that?
PS - the recording reminds me a lot of Joshua Redman's "Spirit of the Moment" live at the village vanguard recording. One of my favourite recordings - nice and dry, nice and real.