One Microphone Recording from Sound Liaison
One Hall, One Band, One Microphone, One Take, One Source
For their second album at NativeDSD Music, singer Carmen Gomes and her ensemble Carmen Gomes Inc. bring our listeners an album of bluesy Jazz recorded with a single microphone. The first in a new series of One Microphone Recordings from Sound Liaison.
Peter Bjørnild from Sound Liaison tells us: “The ideal recording would be one that sounds as if the band is right there in front of you. We have one pair of ears, so why not take a stereo microphone, place it in front of the band and press record? Simple …but somehow it does not work like that. At least we had not yet heard one microphone recording of a whole band that we found completely satisfying.
At Sound Liaison, we are big fans of Josephson microphones. They are the secret to our critically acclaimed double bass sound. So, we thought that if one mic were able to do the impossible, it would be the Josephson C700S stereo microphone.
We had hoped to be able to try it out on a Carmen Gomes’ recording session, but there was an unforeseen problem with the delivery, the mic would not be on time. Having booked the studio and the musicians, we decided to go ahead and record the album the way we mostly do, a stereo pair and spot mics on the individual instruments.
We had just recorded the last song of the session when the Josephson C700S arrived. The band had to go and play a gig in the evening and Frans had a lot on his mind that day, so nobody was really in the mood for testing a new microphone, but Carmen said: Come on, let’s just make a quick take of something simple; “Let’s play ‘How Long’!”. So, we all gathered around the mic, made the take, packed up and rushed off to the gig of the evening.
Next day Frans called me up and said, “I can’t stop listening”.
“Did you already make a premix of the session”, I asked.
“No, I am talking about the one taken with the Josephson C700S; there is something very special about it, we need to really test that mic. Could you all come back next month?”
The band has just spent 3 days recording an album and we were pleased with the result. So as not to waste any precious studio time, we grabbed a bunch of songs that have been in our live repertoire for years and went back in.
Multi track recording has advantages and disadvantages. The good thing is that you can make an instrument louder or softer as you please. The bad thing when the recording is done in one room is phase. The most time-consuming aspect of our way of recording is getting the phase between the mics right. Frans de Rond is a true genius in that field and his expertise is one of the secrets to our well-defined sound stage.
Now with only one mic the challenge lay elsewhere. Mixing was no longer possible. We would have to make the complete sound stage right there by carefully moving each instrument closer or further away as well as left and right in relationship to the microphone.
Carmen was given headphones so she could hear exactly what the mic was hearing. She could then direct the musicians and with hand gestures let each band member play louder or softer.
Special credit goes to drummer Bert Kamsteeg who, while playing a full modern drum kit, managed to drive and color each tune with his unique style, but never overpower the pure non amplified sound of Carmen’s voice and my upright bass.
Guitarist Folker Tettero (also featured on Tettero plays Eddie Harris and Les McCann at NativeDSD Music) decided to play the whole session on his old archtop guitar. It is quite unique that you can hear the pure acoustic sound of the guitar blending in so well with the sound from his custom-made amplifier. Listen to Folkers comping during the bass solo in ‘Where can I Go’; that’s the pure sound of his guitar and not to forget; the sound of his hands.
Almost all the songs are first takes. Except for ‘Billie’s Blues’ and ‘How Long’ where second takes where needed to get the balance right.
Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen told me how Ben Webster was the only musician he knew that could play himself to tears while playing a ballad. I know one more, Carmen Gomes.
It happened on the Little Blue album and again on this recording as she was singing the last words to Gershwin’s beautiful ballad ‘Summertime’. Carmen was very apologetic and wanted to make another take, but Frans refused to press the record button. “I’ve got goosebumps all over. And why is it a problem to shed a tear while singing; ……‘don’t you cry’… !?”
Carmen Gomes Inc.
Carmen Gomes – Vocals
Folker Tettero – Guitar
Peter Bjørnild – Double Bass
Bert Kamsteeg – Drums
Total time: 00:55:36
Horus, Merging Technologies
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Frans de Rond
Josephson C700S (One Microphone Recording)
|Original Recording Format|
Frans de Rond
M.C.O, Studio 2, Hilversum, The Netherlands, on the 26th of October and the 15th of December 2018.
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
TAD Compact Evolution
|Release Date||March 15, 2019|
Many musicians can play jazz and blues, but few can sing the blues with total conviction and emotional authenticity. Dutch singer-songwriter Carmen Gomes is one of those few. A father from the Mediterranean region endowed Carmen Gomes not only with a Spanish-sounding name, but by her own description, with a Mediterranean temperament. At the margins of the culture, the world’s differences meet; for Carmen Gomes, the language that gave her freedom of expression was not her native Dutch, but English; and the mode that encouraged her creativity was American jazz and blues. With a dozen previous albums in her catalogue, this accomplished singer, songwriter, teacher, and vocal coach distills more than two decades of live performance and recording experience into “Don’t You Cry”, an hour of compelling jazz vocal music.
The selection and sequencing of the songs tells the story of a woman’s growing recognition that she must throw off the chains of love—false illusions, fears, and insecurities—before she can find a more honest way of loving. From the opening “Unchain My Heart”, a 1963 hit for Ray Charles, through two songs associated with the great Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and Simone’s own assertion of female sensuality “Do I Move You”, with stops along the way in the Deep South of the songwriter’s imagination (Ira and George Gershwin’s “Summertime”) and the historical reality (“How Long”, credited to Leroy Carr, originally written by blues woman Ida Cox), the listener finally arrives at Gomes’ original “As I Do.” It’s a one-hour trip from the depths of love’s oppression to the renewed hope for a relationship between equal partners, cast in the languorous mode of sultry jazz singing and subtle instrumental accompaniment.
Gomes’ stylistic technique extends past the conventions of behind-the-beat phrasing. Listen to how she teases out the syllables, as if the lyrics themselves were musical notes, not just words on a page. On “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, she prolongs the vowel sounds through several shades of inflection. With her flawless pitch, the effect is entrancing. You might hear echoes of Billie Holliday, but her vocal sound has developed well beyond imitation to distinctive individuality.
The ensemble Carmen Gomes, Inc. is more than a singer and a backing group. Bassist Peter Bjørnild, whose session notes are posted on the Sound Liaison website, produced the record, and arranged the songs in collaboration with Gomes, guitarist Folker Tettero and drummer Bert Kamsteeg. Tettero plays an archtop semi-hollow body guitar that has a warm timbre; his stylistic ears are well-tuned to blues idiom, especially the minor-key blues of the mid-1960s. Kamsteeg uses brushes throughout and keeps superb time without ever overpowering the singer or other players. In bassist Peter Bjørnild, Gomes has found the deep instrumental ‘voice’ that complements her vocals, the glove that perfectly fits the hand. Their musical partnership is longstanding, and the trust that only years can bring is clearly in evidence.
With an engineer of the capabilities of Frans Rond, mixing is no longer needed. The careful placement of the musicians and the control of group balance makes “Don’t You Cry” one of the best-sounding “live in the room” audiophile recordings I’ve heard.
Not surprisingly, “Don’t You Cry” was awarded NativeDSD Vocal Album of the Year for 2019. I eagerly await the next release from Carmen Gomes Inc.
NativeDSD – 2019 Album of the Year – Vocal
The team at Sound Liaison – Producer Peter Bjørnild and Recording Engineer Frans de Rond – love the sound of Josephson microphones. When ordering the newest Josephson mic – the C700S – they wondered, could you record a Jazz ensemble with vocals with just one C700S microphone?
They took delivery of the C700S, quickly recorded a familiar track (How Long) with Carmen Gomes Inc. and engineer Frans de Rond had a listen. It was so good; he called the Jazz ensemble back and they immediately used the microphone to do a full album as a One Microphone Recording.
Don’t You Cry features Carmen Gomes on vocals, Folker Tettero on Guitar, Peter Bjørnild on Double Bass and Bert Kamsteeg on Drums. The result is an album that captures the vocal stylings of Carmen Gomes and an uncanny intimacy of the ensemble.
Clearly an album in DSD Stereo (up to DSD 256) and DXD that you won’t want to miss.
Carmen Gomes recently released the albums ‘Belafonte Sings The Blues’ and ‘Don’t You Cry’, with the latest release being recorded with one microphone.
With her warm voice and precise timing, she gives a particularly tasteful interpretation of classic Jazz songs and repertoire.
This is another fantastic album from Sound Liaison. If you haven’t experienced one of these, you need to as the sound quality is in the top 3 if not #1 of all labels I’ve purchased albums from and that would be a lot of labels.
This is the album you will use to impress your friends with your system if they are Jazz fans.
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