Recording live vs. separate?

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  1. Din

    So, I'm planning on recording a quartet album, but I'm having the doubt if I should record live or first drums, then bass, then piano or guitar.
    What is the pro and cons of each method?
    Plus, I remember I saw an interview where kurt said he recorded one album where first jeff ballard recorded, and then he recorded bass, then Mark recorded if I remember correctly. Does anyone know what album is that? and if you can find the interview (I couldn't) that would be great.


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  2. jorgemg1984

    I think most jazz records are recorded with everyone playing at the same time (even at the studio). Recording individual parts is more common in pop / rock settings. The record you mention I belieive it should be "Heartcore" which was a very personal project by Kurt - all his other CDs were made recorded the entire band at the same time I think.

    One of the most important parts of jazz is interaction between the group and unexpected things happening. You would loose all that recording parts individually - how would the drummer respond to your solos? or the bass player would react for your substitutions? or how would you add an extra chorus of solos if you wanted when you were recording?

  3. Djangologist

    As Jorgemg1984 said, "most jazz records are recorded with everyone playing at the same time". However, personally, I don't think it's wrong or "cheating" (as some might say) to overdub. I think in a live context a group is what it is at that day and time but when you are recording you want to make the best, most exciting recording you can make, something that will stand up to repeated listenings. I'm not advocating protools-ing the life out of a recording, I just think recording can afford the artist opportunities to do things that they might not be able to do in a straight ahead context. I guess it all depends on what sound/concept you are going for.

    Two examples of some great jazz that has resulted from experimentation with technology and overdubbing:
    Lennie Tristano - "Lineup" - `

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Widget
    Bill Evans - "Conversations with myself" `
    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Widget

    I think both of these tracks show that the improvisor can still respond to what's happening in context but after the fact.

    So in answer to your question "Din", one other option would be to completely isolate certain sound sources. For example, if you are using a "proper" studio that will have separate isolation booths you could record with everyone playing live using headphones with the guitar amp, bass amp (and drums) all in individual rooms/spaces . In this instance you could take the live recording as is, if you are happy with everyones playing. If you're not happy with everyones playing you have the option to re-record small (or large) sections. For example, this would provide you the opportunity to try more adventurous solos that you might not have been willing to try (for whatever reason) while everyone was playing live.

    With regard to multi-tracking - as in using a guide track and a click, getting the drums done, then the bass, then the guitars etc... It may result in a really tight recording but may also be a little characterless.

    Hope that helps in terms of putting another view forward. I'm curious to see what the general consensus on recording jazz is here. Hopefully more people respond.

    Best of luck with the recording.

  4. jorgemg1984

    I agree with overdubbing for correcting small details which is possible if you record in separate booths. I do not agree with multi-tracking for jazz... at all!

  5. silverwater

    Yeah Din, for Jazz, the best way to go about things is to record live, but isolate each sound be listening to each other through head phones. This will allow you to polish things up with a few edits here and there, but still keep a live and interactive feel through out. Careful about overdubbing whole solos though; this can be done but can make your rhythm section sound like fools.

    I personally wouldn't recommend the old school approach of everyone getting in the same room. Getting a great take can take many many attempts, and because of time/money restrictions (and energy levels), the pros often don't outweigh the cons. I know some players (like Wallace Roney) are into this, but these guys are also ridiculously amazing musicians with mucho experience in the studio.

    FWIW, Djangologist, I don't think I could listen to an entire album recorded like that Lennie Tristiano tune you posted. One tune like that is minimalist and hip, but entire bop album without any rhythm section interaction would get probably stale.

    Of course you haven't even mentioned what kind of jazz you're going to be doing. It it's something with an electronica kind of vibe, or hip-hopish, tracking might be totally appropriate. When I did a rock album, we recorded in this order: drums, bass, keys, rhythm guitar, vocals, lead guitar.

  6. Poparad

    You can also mix the two approaches. On Adam Roger's "Sight" album, he's mostly doing a guitar, bass, drums trio that's recorded live, but he overdubbed himself playing piano on the head to at least one of the tracks (if I remember correctly, the first track), and that sounded pretty cool. That way you get the flexibility and interaction of a live performance, but you can also layer some decorations on top as far as arranging goes.

  7. jorgemg1984

    Peter Bernstein also plays with himself on one tune in "Monk".

  8. Ahahahahahaha

  9. Poparad

    It's a good thing he recorded only audio and no video of that!

  10. jorgemg1984

    I just realizaed the double meaning of "plays with himself"... sorry guys, English is not my first language :/

  11. Poparad

    I didn't even think of it until I saw Floatingbridge's comment.


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