Friday, October 30, 2009

Recording What?

We have to set up a studio and immediately all sorts of technological questions are raised, such as how much technology do we want, and that depends on what we think we're trying to record.

In a way this is an easy question because all we have to do is have some understanding of what the jazz establishment is doing, and just do the opposite. After all, nothing makes decision making as easy as watching someone get the exact opposite results they intend to get. People record jazz CDs to sell, and they don't sell. They wildly don't sell. So it's not like we can do any worse--and by following along with everyone else we know it's going to fail--therefore, just do the opposite.

We already have a quiet room for practicing, the floors are covered with heavily padded carpet, there are bookshelves, thick drapes, soft furniture. It might be something like Rudy Van Gelder's living room used to be. A room with a comfortable feel. Right here we aren't talking about recording studio with perfectly designed acoustics. No soundproof glass, no way musicians can't see one and other. Maximal human contact and interaction.

What was Rudy recording? That's the next question. There's something missing in so many contemporary releases. Again, using the same logic as above, we can rule out that Rudy was recording the sounds of the instruments. Why? Because they do that so much better now and the records aren't as good and they don't sell as well. Our hypothesis--and again, how can we do worse?--Rudy was recording the night. Listen to Midnight Blue, not listed on the credits is the night. I don't know if the album was recorded at night, in the darkest part of the night, but you can sure as heck hear the night on that album.

He was also recording their soul--which eventually came through their instruments. So how do you record the sounds of a person's soul, which I believe is slightly different than recording soul. Or, put another way, Rudy was recording the musicians themselves first, their instruments second. How do you do this? Well, this first step is certainly to put less emphasis on recording sound. So we aren't using state of the art technology. Garage Band, a pretty good audio interface (PreSonus Firestudio), and some reasonably good microphones.

That brings us to soul--does soul have depth? I'm old enough to believe yes. Do they talk about depth of soul in music school? No they don't. Is there a certain depth of soul that leads to good and possibly great music? Probably. How does one get that?

That's where we have to leave off.