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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Update from recording session at The Sonic Temple (bass + drums + tenor sax)

Our jazz/funk quartet recorded as a trio sans claviers this evening. Our pianist had to give his regrets at the last minute, but we chose to continue with the session anyway, albeit with a foreshortened one. I had a gas though, and totally dug all the gear talk I had with our engineer.

We arrived at the studio around 5, and everything was set up and sound-checked by 6:15. We laid down two versions of our rock-infused rendition of the classic jazz ballad I Should Care (Take 1 | Take 2), then took a short break to listen back. We were happy with how everything sounded, so we went back upstairs and recorded a funky blues called Scenic Routes (Take 1), followed by a couple renditions of our bassist's original Policy Function (Take 1 | Take 2). We also had time to lay down three versions of John Scofield's What They Did, a groovy rhythm changes head with a funky breakbeat in the bridge (Take 1 | Take 2 | Take 3).

I created this short playlist of my personal favourites from the session. You could have a listen to that playlist or to any of its individual tracks per the list below. I'd love to hear what you think.
1. I Should Care (Take 1)
2. Scenic Routes (Take 1)
3. Policy Function (Take 1)
4. What They Did (Take 3)
Our engineer for the session was the eminently knowledgeable and technically proficient Darren van Niekerk, and he was at home behind the gorgeous $450K, circa 1987 48-channel mixer board with plasma meters and an array of onboard analog processor effects, all running into a PowerMac G5 with two FireWire external hard drives of 120 GB each, backed up to a 1 TB file server onsite. Two Apogee analog/digital converters took the board's signal (through which the mic and direct inputs from the band were fed) and then tracked the recorded audio to the external hard drives in real time. Each track's data was stored separately in ProTools, and we used about 16 tracks for this recording tonight (with over half going to the various drum mics),

I'm fairly pleased with the production value on the rough mix to stereo I've based these selections on. At certain points I'd like to have the sax be more present in the mix; either louder itself, or else have the other instruments (particularly the snare, which features prominently in the mix throughout) pulled back somewhat. I also need to play my horn with something much more closely approximating good tone; or at least, a strong and steady one. I think I sound like a 90-year-old retiree shaking and hooting on his horn, when in my mind, I'm a funky, ferocious tiger who's kickin' it hardcore to the straight-up beats.

The Sonic Temple Studios is in this old red brick building on Hollis Street in downtown Halifax

Bob was partially isolated with the drums in one corner of the high-ceilinged room

Adam set up along the "guitar wall"

The room was well-lit naturally by the skylights and electrically with various potlights and light strings

This high-end condenser mic picked up my horn behind this glass baffle on the other side of the room from Bob

The trippy, enormous mixer board (note the orange plasma meters along the back, the widescreen Mac LCD panel display above the board, and the sliding keyboard/mouse tray along the bottom

Close-up on that keyboard and mouse, which are customized for the recording studio and to control the ProTools recording and editing software

A window into one of our tunes, with its 16 tracks in exploded view