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Kind of Blue, more than kind of amazing
Old 5th April 2019
  #1
Kind of Blue, more than kind of amazing

This may be a long shot, but I’m wondering if anyone has insight into the specifics of how Fred Plaut approached these recordings, especially in contrast to how Frank Laico recorded much of the rest of Miles’ Columbia discography from that time?

I’m wondering specifically if he’s using any kind of room mic setup to generate a natural stereo field, or if he’s doing that all with mic placement, balance, and reverb chamber? I’m pretty sure the reverb chamber is mono, but the piano and instruments just sounds so, stereo-esque! rather than panned multi-mono.

It’s such a modern-sounding recording compared to the other Columbia jazz records of that era. It seems like a great example of the impact an engineer can have on the sound of a record. Same room, same mics, same equipment, but a totally different sound than Laico, and (seemingly) heavily informed by Plaut’s classical and musical theater recording background, with its emphasis on natural ambience.

Tell me what you think and know!
Old 5th April 2019
  #2
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JCBigler's Avatar
From what I've heard, the gods reached down from Olympus and inscribed the recording session to disk straight from the heavens. There's no way any mortal human being could accomplish something so great as Kind of Blue. The artists, the music, performance, the recording...It's like the perfect convergence of all the best of earth and heaven in one small piece of plastic and magnetic tape.
Old 5th April 2019
  #3
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
This may be a long shot, but I’m wondering if anyone has insight into the specifics of how Fred Plaut approached these recordings, especially in contrast to how Frank Laico recorded much of the rest of Miles’ Columbia discography from that time?

I’m wondering specifically if he’s using any kind of room mic setup to generate a natural stereo field, or if he’s doing that all with mic placement, balance, and reverb chamber? I’m pretty sure the reverb chamber is mono, but the piano and instruments just sounds so, stereo-esque! rather than panned multi-mono.

It’s such a modern-sounding recording compared to the other Columbia jazz records of that era. It seems like a great example of the impact an engineer can have on the sound of a record. Same room, same mics, same equipment, but a totally different sound than Laico, and (seemingly) heavily informed by Plaut’s classical and musical theater recording background, with its emphasis on natural ambience.

Tell me what you think and know!
Maybe Larry (aka Silvertone) might have some insights since he's recreating a 60's studio (and have a profound knowledge on the Columbia records studio of those years)..

paging Silvertone



Cheu
Old 5th April 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
This may be a long shot, but I’m wondering if anyone has insight into the specifics of how Fred Plaut approached these recordings, especially in contrast to how Frank Laico recorded much of the rest of Miles’ Columbia discography from that time?
I'm assuming you've already made the first train stop at the Ashley Kahn book on the album .....that would have to include some session photos and interviews with the players and engineering crew ?
https://www.amazon.com/Kind-Blue-Mak.../dp/0306815583

Also, same era...same personnel recording (Plaut, Laico) ?: Remastering Three Jazz Classics: The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Art Pepper, and Sonny Rollins - ProSoundWeb

The photo here sort of gives some dimensionality to the sketch diagrams of the above article....I know it's not Miles, but...same studio, same era, same recording team....so the physical space, dimensions, furniture etc were same ?

Report back here with your findings...doubtless many inquiring minds also wanting to know....
Attached Thumbnails
Kind of Blue, more than kind of amazing-brubeck-30thst-gobo-recording-session.jpg  

Last edited by studer58; 5th April 2019 at 12:29 PM..
Old 5th April 2019
  #5
Also, same era...same personnel recording (Plaut, Laico) ?: Remastering Three Jazz Classics: The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Art Pepper, and Sonny Rollins - ProSoundWeb


This kind of reinforces my belief that we have lost something in the sound since those eras. Maybe mic setup - or maybe they had extra fine ears in those days.
Old 5th April 2019
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
leitmo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurcher_lover View Post
Also, same era...same personnel recording (Plaut, Laico) ?: Remastering Three Jazz Classics: The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Art Pepper, and Sonny Rollins - ProSoundWeb


This kind of reinforces my belief that we have lost something in the sound since those eras. Maybe mic setup - or maybe they had extra fine ears in those days.
They didn't have screens and waveforms to stare at
Old 5th April 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by leitmo View Post
They didn't have screens and waveforms to stare at
Absolutely! We have moved to a visual age, and sound takes second place.
Old 5th April 2019
  #8
GREAT players, great room, great engineers and a commitment to quality is probably what made those recordings GREAT.

Also having all the players in the same room at the same time did a lot for the sound. Now days the members of a "band" may never see or interact with each other.

I doubt you could find any engineers today who could do "direct to two track" like it was done in the "good olde days". Everything changed with the introduction of multi-track recording.

I still like to see sessions like this YouTube or this YouTube

Concerns about $$$ have made full recording sessions a thing of of the past. FWIW
Old 5th April 2019
  #9
Gear Nut
 
Uncle Russ's Avatar
As Tom suggests, getting musicians the the same room at the same time is becoming nearly impossible. The last time I was able to do that was 2010. I still can produce a decent sounding album but it's sort of a "reasonable facsimile" of what it should be and lacks some energy, spontaneity, and certainly on-the-spot creativity. The problem isn't technology, though. It's that many musicians see little reason to adjust their schedule to record a CD few people will buy or even listen to; it's more fun to play for a dozen drunks in a bar.
Old 5th April 2019
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
leitmo's Avatar
I will record jazz Quintet tomorrow. All in the same room, no monitors, only positioning musicians and microphone selection for nice bleed.

Looking forward...
Old 6th April 2019
  #11
[QUOTE=king2070lplaya;13907223]This may be a long shot, but I’m wondering if anyone has insight into the specifics of how Fred Plaut approached these recordings, especially in contrast to how Frank Laico recorded much of the rest of Miles’ Columbia discography from that time?

I wish I knew. If it is any help the Miles Ahead album (Miles with Gil Evans arrangements and studio big band) is in the same league as far recording quality. I have the version remastered by Phil Schaap. It was remastered from the original masters. Some earlier versions were remastered in "pseudo-stereo" and they sucked. There is a definitive mono version out here. But this re-master is just gorgeous stereo with so much depth. You can really hear the room and the mics--very beautiful. I use it as one of my reference recordings to remind myself what a great recording really sounds like. It was also recorded at the Columbia Records 30TH ST studio a couple of years earlier, in 1957. There are some pretty good session photos in the liner notes with Neumann tube mics hanging, gobos, etc. that might indicate a little of some of the setup involved.
Old 6th April 2019
  #12
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robert82's Avatar
When has there been another room like the Columbia? And the recording is totally genre dependent. Maybe if you could find a similar room, put Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, Vincent Herring, Christian McBride, Brad Mehldau and 'Tain Watts under some M49s, you could get close.
Old 6th April 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
The room was an ex Armenian Church with a great verb, especially in the centre
They also had a chamber and a plate for matching purposes
Above all they had ensemble playing ,talent and gifted engineering.
It still could be done.
Old 6th April 2019
  #14
Gear Addict
 

While I can't help on the magic of this recording, there is an extensive discussion of CBS 30th Street studio at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums.
If links are allowed, it's here:
History of CBS Records 30th Street Studio NYC (many pictures) | Steve Hoffman Music Forums

where some of the misinformation is verifiably debunked, as well as new questions raised. Warning, it's a long thread and some things don't get sorted out until much later in the thread. There are only a handful of people still around that worked there at all, and none left from 30th St's early days.

The main room was about the size of a basketball court.
Old 6th April 2019
  #15
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bgood's Avatar
I’d read somewhere that Kind of Blue was the guinea pig for every new consumer recording deliverable... going back since its original release. I read it in an industry thing when I was still in radio/tv... maybe NAB or billboard?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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Hey Kevin, here's your New Year celebrations hangover cure.....Frank Laico gold !

https://londonjazzcollector.wordpres...treet-studios/

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KJbhGHmY_UA

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wHPKf9CaQ-w
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
If Frank Laico whets your appetite.....here's a good research of Rudy van Gelder's recording methods:

https://jazzstudiesonline.org/files/...yVanGelder.pdf
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
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robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Hey Kevin, here's your New Year celebrations hangover cure.....Frank Laico gold !
What a great New Year's present! This is gold! Man, I hope I'm that lucid at 90. My how far we have strayed from the craft of those days.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Addict
 
springer's Avatar
 

Thank you

Ahhh finally an answer to my 30 year question of why one of my favorite albums sound so bad from 30th Street. I am talking about Bill Evans "Affinity".
Mitch Miller left Columbia in 1965 and then Columbia "cleaned" the venue according to Frank Laico in the video... and according to him completely changed the sound.
[one Lewis Black tumor down - several more to go]
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Head
 
khedger's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
This may be a long shot, but I’m wondering if anyone has insight into the specifics of how Fred Plaut approached these recordings, especially in contrast to how Frank Laico recorded much of the rest of Miles’ Columbia discography from that time?

I’m wondering specifically if he’s using any kind of room mic setup to generate a natural stereo field, or if he’s doing that all with mic placement, balance, and reverb chamber? I’m pretty sure the reverb chamber is mono, but the piano and instruments just sounds so, stereo-esque! rather than panned multi-mono.

It’s such a modern-sounding recording compared to the other Columbia jazz records of that era. It seems like a great example of the impact an engineer can have on the sound of a record. Same room, same mics, same equipment, but a totally different sound than Laico, and (seemingly) heavily informed by Plaut’s classical and musical theater recording background, with its emphasis on natural ambience.

Tell me what you think and know!
I'm pretty sure it was a Tascam 4 track portastudio, one of the second generation ones.....

keith
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Progger's Avatar
Glad to see this thread resurfacing! I went on a very similar quest but with a more obscure couple of Miles albums, "ESP" and "The Sorcerer," which led me to a lot of that same material about Frank Laico. I wish there were more info out there about all this stuff, but those old photos of the Church studio are really cool to see. The mic of choice certainly seemed to be the M49 all over the place, not just on Miles' trumpet. RCA ribbons seemed to be involved a lot of the time too.

But the musicians and the room undoubtedly account for most of the magic.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Lives for gear
For a good value Miles live recording made in that era, it would be hard to beat this one from Mobile Fidelity (can't comment personally...haven't heard it, but looks good on paper):

https://www.mofi.com/product-p/udsacd2087.htm

Indeed, they've made quite a focus on Miles' output, using the original stereo masters as source tapes:

https://www.mofi.com/searchresults.a...+Davis&Submit=
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by khedger View Post
I'm pretty sure it was a Tascam 4 track portastudio, one of the second generation ones.....

keith
No, you're wrong...CBS only used the 1st gen 3 track version !!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
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chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
There's no way any mortal human being could accomplish something so great as Kind of Blue. The artists, the music, performance, the recording...It's like the perfect convergence of all the best of earth and heaven in one small piece of plastic and magnetic tape.
The are lots of records that are as good produced by mere mortals
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
The are lots of records that are as good produced by mere mortals
Uh-oh....I sense something long and unprovable about to begin....
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrischoir View Post
The are lots of records that are as good produced by mere mortals
But not really so many at that time I think was the OPs point
Old 2 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
https://www.historyofrecording.com/T...y_Rollins.html

This might be a repeat of a post above, but worth revisiting as it counterpoints modern recording methods with those of the CBS (and Sonny Rollins 'Way Out West') recordings of this thread
Old 2 weeks ago
  #28
Please see post #8 . it was the musicianship, the great engineers and time to do things right that made recordings of this era GREAT IMHO. Today everything is rushed to save $$$ and there are very few engineers today that could use the equipment available to these engineers and do the same quality of recording. ANALOG RULES!!!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Today everything is rushed to save $$$ and there are very few engineers today that could use the equipment available to these engineers and do the same quality of recording. ANALOG RULES!!!
Degauss those heads, tweak the bias, here's your media....and off you go !

https://www.amazon.com/RMG-EMTEC-Stu...SIN=B00890FBXY
Old 2 weeks ago
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Please see post #8 . it was the musicianship, the great engineers and time to do things right that made recordings of this era GREAT IMHO.
not to disrespect the engineers of that time but there was not much 'engineering' involved: they certainly used their (sometimes or in some ways limited) equipment well and had to work pretty fast (and in this regard, their approach is pretty close to live mixing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Today everything is rushed to save $$$ and there are very few engineers today that could use the equipment available to these engineers and do the same quality of recording. ANALOG RULES!!!
i have to disagree: the best gear always 'disappears' and lets the music shine - tape has very clear limits and no doubt some charme but i'm glad the days of tape are (mostly) gone!
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