It is always exciting to think about what might happen when two of your favorite artists decide to team up and produce a new collaboration. But it can also be a disappointment when the result sounds a bit like a tug-of-war between two visions, or a competition between the two artists. NOW not only avoids the these pitfalls, but it soars above them with rare and wonderful transcendence. Indeed, it may do for Piano and Electric Guitar what Crystal Silence did for Piano and Vibraphone.
Alex Machacek and Gary Husband spent several days with us recording a new album for their label, AbstractLogix. Gary has just finished touring the East Coast with John McLaughlin, and Alex flew in from Los Angeles. Both had been writing, practicing, and sharing notes about the music they would be recording, but this was the first time they had a chance to play it together. It was exciting to witness the music literally being realized through the process of recording!
Our recording setup anticipated Alex playing both electric and acoustic guitar. In the photo you see him practicing with Gary, so the amp is not isolated, and neither is Alex. For the recording, Alex played through a Carr Rambler amplifier isolated in Booth B, but he’s practicing with Gary through a Carr Mercury amplifier. He really enjoyed playing through both. During the recording session, Alex moved into the hexagonal room we made from gobos. When he was getting set up, I asked him “what’s your favorite color?” and when he told me “something warm, maybe orange”, I illuminated it with a really orange light. He liked the effect, and that’s how we kept it during the remainder of the session. (See below for some color out-takes.)
For the acoustic guitar, Alex auditioned two of our studio guitars: a Breedlove and an Alvarez Yari. Alex picked the Yari because its tone and action fit were a perfect fit for the tone he envisioned and for the way he plays.
Gary played our Yamaha CF-9. We set up three pairs of microphones to capture several perspectives of the piano’s sound. Over the hammers we had a pair of Schoeps CMC6 mics. Over the harp we had our DPA 3521 compact cardiod pair. Slightly higher and slightly farther away we had a pair of Coles 4038 ribbon microphones which you can see on the large boom stand. Ian then set about to get the piano to play Gary’s favorite colors, which tended to be a bit darker than our piano plays naturally. However, after some back-and-forth, we found that we could get the desired color with a touch of EQ. With that, we were ready to record.
This week we have been given a gift. Two of the most talented members of the Jazz fusion community are making a record at Manifold Recording. And they are trying something new: the co-production model of The Miraverse. If you are within 40 miles of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or Pittsboro, you might want to consider becoming a co-producer on Friday, or at least having dinner with these artists and hearing what Alex Machacek and Gary Husband have been creating.
A lot has changed in the recording industry since John McLaughlin started recording with Miles Davis, but a few things have stayed the same: the laws of physics that govern acoustics have not changed, and the challenge of making a great record–from the technical practice to the acoustics to the critical decisions during tracking and mixing–remain challenges no matter how much technology one has available. The co-production model is a new approach geared toward helping artists produce their art at the highest level, using both the most advanced technologies available and the most organic acoustic spaces in which to give their music life, and to do so in an economically sustainable way.
One major task of making a great recording is the recording process itself. This process has its own magic, its own mystery, its own moments of enlightenment to offer. And it is a process that is usually hidden from view, inaccessible to all except those directly connected to the process. But what about those who love not only the music itself, but the process of producing the music? In the world of local food, chefs are teaming up with farmers, bringing the restaurant to the field so that diners can experience food in a more complete and holistic way that just what is served on the plate. Other artists are inviting people into their studios to witness the process of creation. Why not do the same for the recording arts?
We are thrilled that Gary and Alex are trying new things. And we hope that you might try something new as well and support the work of these artists in a new way. It is quite something special to hear our 9′ concert grand piano in the Music Room. It will be quite something special to hear Alex playing through our locally-made Carr amplifiers. And if you decide to make a day of it and spend time not only hearing them play live, but participating in the recording process.
Leonardo DaVinci once said “Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.” Which means that art is defined by the choices made by the artist. By seeing those choices being made, by understanding how those choices can be discerned in a recording, you might just find that you have a whole new appreciation for your existing library of recordings as you hear nuances (choices!) you’d never heard before.
Tickets for those who wish to attend are being handled by AbstractLogix here.
BREAKING NEWS: There is now an option to join only the post-dinner concert. Contact AbstractLogix to check on availability of these $99 tickets. We hope to see you Friday, either for the whole day, for dinner, or for the wrap-up performance. Thank you for helping these artists produce the next milestones in Jazz recording.