When it comes to recording piano for jazz ensembles, producer Andy Ross knows a thing or two. He recorded the highly acclaimed Mercury Prize nominated album ‘Golden’ by the Kit Downes Trio and has produced all five albums in the ‘Yamaha New Jazz Sessions’ CD series that has shifted 80,000 copies from the cover of the UK’s best-selling jazz magazine, ‘Jazzwise’, since its inception.
Ross owns Astar Studios, based in Heywood, Lancashire where the live room acoustics are among the very best in the UK. Many musicians choose to play and interact there when recording jazz.
One of Ross’s biggest challenges has been determining how to how to minimize sound spill from other instruments onto the piano during recording.
Ross explains, “Although we have the facility to hire in any piano to suit a specific project, for recording small jazz ensembles I really like Yamaha’s C3 Grand. It was the piano we used for ‘Golden’. In fact Yamaha pianos are my preferred choice every time. So having the opportunity to record a fantastic piano with some of the most talented pianists in the country it’s important to capture the true sound characteristics of the piano and performer.”
“In the past, despite extensively using screens and baffles, it has been very difficult to bring spill down to an acceptable level. Although I have plenty of post-production tools at my disposal, it usually results in a compromise. So when I heard about the Earthworks PM40 and read the reviews I wondered if this was the solution I was looking for. and instructed my studio manager to locate one.
“This led us to the great guys at Unity Audio from whom we hired a PM40 for this year’s Yamaha New Jazz Sessions recordings—boy are we impressed.
“Set up was simple – no more awkward positioning of mic stands or the need to use the old school trick of covering the piano with a duvet. The Earthworks PM40 with its unique design allows for the piano lid to be closed completely and once shut, the amount of spill was minimal.”
Andy said, “The fantastic tone of the Yamaha C3 Grand was beautifully captured by the PM40, it did everything I could have hoped for and more. Even closing the lid on the piano which can often affect the quality of the sound when recording, did not happen here at all. I just wish I had known about this mic sooner.”