Sandglass of Summer – Soshi Kubota

 

This piece “Sandglass of Summer” is an original composition by my friend Soshi Kubota, who is studying jazz composition at Berklee. He asked me to record three of his originals for his senior portfolio, which I was very glad to help.

The piece was recorded in Studio B, which is equipped with a 32-channel API Legacy Plus analog console. I wanted to keep this session as close to live as possible because I think musical interaction is most important for jazz recordings. The musicians were in one room with gobos around the drums to minimize the bleed into other microphones. I used a wooden stick (approximately a foot long) to hold the piano lid because the lid holder that was attached to the piano was too long and there were too much bleed of drums into the piano. I also put a blanket over the piano lid for this purpose. Foam gobos were placed around the bass amp and a blanket on top of it. The guitar amp was placed inside an isolation booth and was miked with a SM57 and Royer 121.

For the drums, I tried applying the Glyn Johns miking technique for my first time. Large diaphragm condensers (Neumann U89) were used for the overheads, Audix D6 for the kick in, and the Shure SM57 for the snare. However, I was not able to get a balanced stereo image even after checking the distance from the center of the snare to each overhead microphone. I wanted to take the time to solve the problem, but studio time was very limited. Therefore, I had to change the plan and place them as a spaced overhead pair. On the vibraphones, I chose DPA 4011 small diaphragm condenser microphones and placed them about two and a half feet above the instrument- one pointing to the lower half and the other pointing to the other half.

A major problem I encountered with this session was the bass. The dynamic range of the bass line was very wide and it varied from note to note. I thought about the reason behind this while mixing and realized that part of it was the bassist, but mostly it could have been the proximity effect because I placed a U47 (large diaphragm microphone) very close to the bass amp. As a solution, I had to volume-automate almost every note and put it through a low-ratio compressor to remedy the problem. Finally, I wanted to print a dry guitar source so that I could add reverb during mixing, but the guitar player asked to print the reverb on his pedal as it was. Personally, I think the reverb of the guitar sounds out of place compared to the other elements in the mix. But in all, I was satisfied with most of the elements.

 

soshi-kubota-session-1-setup-sheetsoshi-kubota-session-1-setup-sheet-2