Bill McKinney (left) and Michael
Bishop with DAD's AX-24 converters.
New York, NY (October 20, 2008)--For his third effort on Telarc Records, celebrated young jazz pianist and crooner Tony DeSare wanted to do something different, something that would inspire listeners to consume the entire album, start to finish, instead of simply downloading a few tunes to their iPods and moving on.
Titled Radio Show, the project includes a handful of DeSare originals amid covers that span both time and genre, including such disparate songs as Philip Bailey and Phil Collins’ "Easy Lover" and Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'." DeSare is joined by fellow New Yorker and young up-and-comer Jane Monheit for a duet of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle." Indeed, DeSare has reworked each of the covers in ways that will surprise and delight listeners, and the album will start with a fanfare that announces "The Tony DeSare Show, with special guest Jane Monheit!"
Seven-time Grammy winner Michael Bishop recorded the album at New York's Avatar Studios with the assistance of Bill McKinney. Bishop took his "no safety net" approach to the world of jazz for Radio Show. Bishop conducted the sessions with all of the musicians performing live, together in the same room.
"Today, most albums are recorded piece-meal, with each musician coming in to focus separately on his or her part," Bishop said. "I think what's motivated that change is the relative ease of overdubbing and a desire to continually put off hard decisions. With everyone in the same room, overdubs are nearly impossible on most instruments because of leakage, and that makes people nervous.
"But the benefits of making your decisions right then and there and cutting it all live are fantastic," he continued. "Everyone's more excited. Everyone is thinking more organically about how their part fits with what everyone else is doing. It's more intuitive. It's more spontaneous. In my opinion, it results in a much better piece of music. But the tradeoff is that, from the engineer's standpoint, there's absolutely no room for mistakes."
Although Avatar's Studio A is spacious, it still became a little cramped when filled with DeSare's Steinway Concert Grand piano, a full drum kit, Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, a stand-up bass, a six-piece brass section, and a Hammond B3!
For Monheit's vocals, Bishop used the Bock Audio 5zero7 with the new BOCK/CARDAS patent pending large elliptical capsule. "The 5zero7 is one of those mics that I can just put up in any situation and get an immediate master sound," said the engineer. "It has tremendous presence and depth. I put it up in front of Jane and didn't have to do anything to it. I'm starting to mix the sessions and the Bock sits perfectly in the mix."
For DeSare's vocals, Bishop turned to what has become his favorite all-purpose jazz vocal mic, used also on John Pizzarelli and Ann Hampton Callaway--the Neumann Solution D digital mic. Since the Solution-D does all of its analog preamplification and A/D conversion right at the capsule, it was a simple matter to output its AES/EBU signal directly to Pro Tools.
Apart from the Solution D, all of the other mics (many of which were AEA and Royer ribbons) received preamplification from a bank of Upstate Audio and AEA preamps, as well as direct in to Studio A's 40-channel Neve 8088. "With the room, mic selection, and the sound of the Neve, we knew we would be getting a beautiful color," said McKinney. "We were loath to lose that sound in the conversion process so we made sure to get top-of-line converters so we could skip the Pro Tools hardware."
Three 8-channel DAD AX-24 converters and one 8-channel Prism AD8 converter provided the requisite 32 tracks for the session. Although Bishop frequently uses the DAD AX-24 to convert to DSD for his classical work, this time he ran everything at 96kHz PCM. One of the DADs provided a master clock, to which Bishop slaved the other DADs, the Prism, ProTools, and the Neumann Solution-D mic.
"Although I've used the DAD AX-24 in a lot of other situations and configurations, this was my first time using it to record 96kHz PCM," said Bishop. "It has all the qualities I'm looking for in a converter--clarity, fast transient response, and, to sum it all up, utter transparency. When I want color, I want it from other parts of my signal chain, not from my converter!"
Look for Tony DeSare's Radio Show in early 2009.