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Studio Recording Advice? (big band)

814jazzer

Member
Messages
55
Location
Pennsylvania
Hi, folks

In a couple of weeks I will be going into a studio here in Pennsylvania to record a half dozen of my works for large jazz ensemble.

Do any of you have experience running recording sessions? If so, I'd like some advice & thoughts on the following:

. preparing a schedule of events for the day
. pacing the tune selection, particularly with consideration to the brass players
. pacing the actual session / breaks, etc
. thoughts about overdubbing jazz solos as opposed to going live. Many of the jazz solos in my charts are long, combo-like things —*not simple 16-bar fill-ins.
. planning mtng with engineer
. any other advice!

Here are some specs:
. I have a 6 hour session
. The goal is to get all ensemble and solo tracking completed.
. It may be possible to have some guys return to punch solos later
. Full band will be in single room, with two isolation booths available
. All players individually mic-ed, but no physical separation otherwise
. Only using 5 brass players — they will over dub lower section parts

Many thanks!
~ Rick
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
Rick,

Look, I don't want to rain on your parade but a large jazz ensemble playing half a dozen works and you have six hours? I hope they are short pieces.

Given the time limit I would say your best bet as to forget breaks, there can't be any. It's like taking an opportunist photograph, take the picture and take it now no matter what the settings, the ambient light, depth of field etc. just take the thing, if you have any time afterward then you can faff about. With your recording time you must get the band together, get in tune and then play everything, warts and all, then at least you have some tracks to work with. If you try to 'get it right' you will end up with one track which at a later time you will wish had done differently and the whole event will have been wasted.

You may think that six hours is a long time, it's not, just keep things moving is my advice.

I recorded four songs with my band using home recording equipment, it took a day and a half and then several channels had to be done again later.

Good luck.

Mart

Hi, folks

In a couple of weeks I will be going into a studio here in Pennsylvania to record a half dozen of my works for large jazz ensemble.

Do any of you have experience running recording sessions? If so, I'd like some advice & thoughts on the following:

. preparing a schedule of events for the day
. pacing the tune selection, particularly with consideration to the brass players
. pacing the actual session / breaks, etc
. thoughts about overdubbing jazz solos as opposed to going live. Many of the jazz solos in my charts are long, combo-like things —*not simple 16-bar fill-ins.
. planning mtng with engineer
. any other advice!

Here are some specs:
. I have a 6 hour session
. The goal is to get all ensemble and solo tracking completed.
. It may be possible to have some guys return to punch solos later
. Full band will be in single room, with two isolation booths available
. All players individually mic-ed, but no physical separation otherwise
. Only using 5 brass players — they will over dub lower section parts

Many thanks!
~ Rick
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Location
Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
Another pessimist here - to follow on from Mart, make sure it's a big room - we recorded a big band in a room about 7x18m, and there were all sorts of phase cancellations in the sound. This meant we had to use extra channels to make up the difference and made monitoring (headphones) essential, except of course there are never enough 'send' channels for everyone to have a monitor setup...

Much easier in a room large enough to separate the mic channels by distance.

Is it the same five horn players who will overdub the later parts? If not, I'd suggest trying to get everyone in at once, since a lot of tight section playing relys on subconscious cues like peripherally seeing your leader breathe in! If so they will probably be able to recreate this.

Do have that meeting with the engineer, let him/her know exactly what you'll be bringing so they can have the mics and DI's ready. This extends to electric or acoustic piano, what sort of guitar (amplification or digital board), acoustic or electric bass, how many toms and cymbals the drummer will bring in case they need individual mics, whether there's anything out of the ordinary.
If your engineer's experienced they'll have thought of all this and will have questions ready. If not (and I do speak from experience) they might not even have a clue how to mic a horn, which makes the sound check so much more complicated before you can start to actually record anything.

Lastly, and I'm sure you know this, make sure you've rehearsed the ensemble before you get there. This way everyone's familiar with forms, cuts, key changes, solo sections and the rest. There's no point practicing this stuff in an expensive studio!

An achieveable goal should be a track an hour, but setup will take an hour too, which is why Martin says 'get on with it'! If your engineer is good, you'll be able to cut the time and get your six tracks in. Don't worry about breaks, they'll happen naturally while you go into the engineer's booth to listen to the result. The difficulty will be getting the musicians back after that (maybe lure them back with coffee and biscuits?!).

Good luck with it all!
 
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