In January 2014, we made a film about American Jazz students Matt McGraw and Matt Asti, and their experiences in Leeds so far. The guys also kindly obliged by writing a backing track for the video.
With BA Music Production student Al Ross on board to record, mix and master; and Jazz pathway leader Jamil Sheriff looking after arrangement, Deeds and Measures was born. Matt McGraw and Al Ross take us behind the scenes.
Matt McGraw, BA (Hons) Music (Jazz)
I felt it was my duty as a performer to accommodate what the keyboard was dictating musically. It would have been nice to play something busier or more intricate than what I played, but the track worked better in a harmonious and simplistic approach. Masti could have play something trickier as well but through simplicity and musical space there is room for the human soul to resonate.
It’s crucial to let go and trust the music. French jazz pianist Jean-Michel Pilc talks about the interplay of energy during performances – not your own energy but that of the other musician you are with.
It was important for me to get a "feeling" of where the piano was coming from. Once I had a good idea of what the musical needs for the situation were, I could take the song to the next logical and compassionate step. My only struggle with the track was that we did not use a click track so over-dubbing was an issue.
Al Ross, BA (Hons) Music (Production)
I arrived at the studio expecting to be recording some fairly traditional Jazz but as soon as Matt and Matt started jamming I immediately had to dash to grab more mics!
The track required a heavier drum sound, so I mic'd up the kit using a number of the conservatoire's high end microphones including some Neumann KM184s and AKG C414s. Having these resources to hand made it easy to completely change the set-up to suit a different performance style.
We recorded the track in Studio 115 which is known as the SSL room because of its Solid State Logic G-Series mixing console – an acclaimed desk that is highly sought after by pro studios.
We recorded the track in three takes, each layered on top of the previous. Using the Protools HD rig in 115 made this very easy and quick, even when recording 12 tracks simultaneously. The desk, high quality microphones and a top performance made the recording sound great!
Matt McGraw – co-writer, drums
Matt Asti – co-writer, keyboard
Jamil Sheriff – arrangement
Al Ross – recording, mixing, mastering
Richard Shaw, Unity House – filming and editing
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