I’m as nomadic as anybody else I’ve ever met. My musical side has moved back and forth between Puerto Rico, Hawaii and California numerous times. For that reason, I’ve had many music studios. My latest incarnation of a studio was a spacious 16 x 18″ room in a two story building in sunny North County, San Diego. I know my time with musical real estate is usually short, therefore I try and make the most of it. It came as no surprise that I decided to shut this place down temporarily in order to make way for a new baby coming. I decided I wanted to create a new series of drum videos to seal off this studio with a grand finale. Not only are the results amazing, but the fact that they were shot very late into the night during the Christmas holidays makes for an even greater allure.
The video below is a slightly upbeat and very fun jazz track provided by the great Rhythm Magazine from the UK. It is video number 2 in a series of 8. Keep in mind, I’m not a jazz drummer by any means. I’ve been playing rock for over 14 years and only started playing jazz 2 years ago. A Dave Weckl or Steve Gadd type drummer would completely smoke this track. Given my limited experience playing jazz, I think it came out quite well.
About the drums:
The drum kit is my prized Mapex Saturn Special Edition Birch & Walnut in Supernova Red. This kit is the Five Star Drum Shops Edition. I bought this set from West Coast Drums in Orange County about a year before they closed their doors. I kept the tuning the same as usual. I didn’t tune them specifically for jazz. I usually tune my drums with slightly tighter resonant heads, and leave the batter heads a bit lower. This is not as important with this kit, due to it’s larger tuning range, but has proved specially important with other thick-shelled kits I’ve owned in the past. The drums have Remo Emperor batter heads and Ambassador resonant heads. Given the Saturn’s super thin shells, the sound is very boomy and resonant, even when playing with bundle sticks. The sticks I used for this recording are Vic Firth Steve Smith signature Tala Wand with a foam core. The choice of snare is likely not the best for jazz due to it’s shallow depth. It’s a DW Collector’s Edition Copper 4 x 14″. My choice of Zildjian K Custom Dark cymbals however, is excellent for jazz although I use them for rock all the time. The hi-hat is a K Custom Hybrid 13 1/4″ and the splash is a good ol’ Zildjian K.
About the recording:
“I wanted to get enough room ambiance to emulate one of my favorite Art Blakey jazz drum recordings from the 1950’s but with an obvious contemporary end result.”
I used mainly a combination of Shure SM57 and Sennheiser E835 microphones. The single overhead microphone you can see in some of the angles is an Audio Technica AT4041 condenser. This mic proved to be key in tying all the other microphones together. The 7 channel microphone layout was plugged into a Mackie Onyx 1620 soundboard which was plugged via firewire into an Apple iMac running Logic Pro 8. I added quite a bit of ambiance to the drum track using a room reverb plug-in in Logic. When I mixed the drums with the backing track, I actually added some of that “large room” reverb to it as well. This would hopefully make both separate tracks sit better together like if they had both been recorded at the same time. I wanted to get enough room ambiance to emulate one of my favorite Art Blakey jazz drum recordings from the 1950’s but with an obvious contemporary end result.
About the video:
The camera angles are achieved using 3 Go Pro HD Hero digital cameras. Given that Go Pro offers a slew of different mounting attachments, I was able to mount these exactly where I wanted them. My favorite angle is the one where the camera sits right over my two rack toms and looks straight at me. If you look closely you can see the picture vibrate when I hit the cymbal that sits right over that camera. All 3 angles were played at once, in one take. The raw footage was then brought into Final Cut, were I edited the video and synchronized it with my Logic Pro recording. The graphics at the beginning of the video I created in Photoshop a few weeks prior to shooting.
That’s basically it. This video was a lot of fun to shoot. Please rate with 5 stars on YouTube and subscribe to my channel. This is the second in a series of 8 videos that I’m releasing once per week until completed. To stay informed of future releases please subscribe to my blog via RSS or email. You can find the links to both on my sidebar. Until the next one… Danny.