Crazy (Good) Times...

To sum up: it's a crazy time right now, replete with large doses of "be careful what you wish for-itis". As I write this I'm en route back to NYC from LA where we've just finished mixing Arianna Neikrug's Concord Records debut project (no album title just yet, several under consideration.) Tomorrow I have a "Poemjazz" performance with Robert Pinsky at Princeton University, then Friday and Saturday rehearsals and performances at the Metropolitan Museum with ETHEL (the most excellent string quartet that will play on my upcoming tesseterra project), then next Thursday the trio goes into the recording studio to start the tesseterra recording.

Re Arianna's recording: "finished" is a qualified term in this case as "tweaking" will happen over the next two/three weeks. As we listen to the mixes -- at home on the good audio system, in the car, with earbuds and on various bluetooth speakers, etc. -- things both large and small will become evident, ranging from (for example) the drums maybe being just a little too loud in general over the whole recording (they're unlikely to be too soft) to little, individual moves -- for instance "bumping" (increasing the volume level) a single consonant to make a word more discernible.

It's always an interesting process; although the monitor speakers we use for mixing are great they're also deliberately "flat" -- not a pitch reference -- or "naked", so we're hearing the most reliable, sonically unadorned version of what we've recorded. I've never yet been part of a project where listening to mixes on home/car stereo, earbuds/ bluetooth, etc., didn't change my mind about aspects of a given recording. After making detailed notes I'll email the engineer, he'll implement the changes and the two or three decision makers will evaluate. That's "tweaking"; the goal is to get it as close to perfect as we can before sending it to the mastering lab. Obviously "perfect" is inevitably a subjective term; you could theoretically mix a recording for years and, depending on how obsessive you are, never be 100% satisfied. That's not a very practical mindset and fortunately nobody on this project is impractical.

One thing that's not in doubt: this recording is really great, both musically and technically. Arianna's not only a super talented vocalist, she's whip smart and has a complex and unique personality which of course comes across in her singing. The trio (my "main men" Jared Schonig on drums and Matthew Clohesy on bass) played brilliantly -- solid, relaxed, the ideal combination of "tight" and "loose". The engineer, Chris Sulit, owner of Trading 8s studio in Paramus, NJ, was fantastic and has a great set-up.

And I have to give a special shout out to Yamaha -- the CF6 that they so graciously sent for this project (my first major project since becoming a Yamaha artist) is without doubt the best instrument I've ever had the pleasure to play in the recording studio. I've encountered pianos in its class, albeit rarely, in concert halls/venues, but I've never had it's like for a record date -- which is saying something because I've gotten to record onsome very nice instruments. But not like this. Its sound is one of the "stars" of this recording.

And I'm spoiled silly in that I get to play it again in the same situation in just a week!

I can't wait for people to hear both Arianna's record and the tessterra project (trio + string quartet) -- both should emerge next Spring.


Sharon ReavesComment