MixLine Feature: John McLaughlin Cuts Loose at the Cutting Room

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From L to R: Assistant engineer Anthony Gallo, engineer Chris Griffin, drummer Dennis Chambers, Tabla player Zakir Hussain and John McLaughlin

Guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin has been cranking away on his forthcoming CD, working with fellow greats such as Michael Brecker, Bill Evans, Ada Rovatti and Eric Johnson. Recently, he stopped by the Cutting Room (New York City) to take care of some percussion and guitar overdubs.

Percussionist Zakir Hussain strolled in with a set of tablas and drummer Dennis Chambers brought a massive kit that included six toms. Chris Griffin, who engineered the session in the SSL 9000J-equipped Studio A, says, “I put two U87s in Hussain’s lap in an X-Y configuration, each mic facing the center of each drum. He sat Indian style on the carpet in an iso booth, so it was interesting to get the mics placed.”

To mic Chambers’ six-tom kit, Griffin used B&Ks on the overheads, which ran into a GML 8300 4-channel mic pre, to a GML EQ, and then into ProTools. For room mics, Griffin used “a couple of Coles way back high—as high as we could get them. They picked up the whole ‘kit and caboodle’ of the room, and it was brilliant.”

McLaughlin reportedly tracked to MIDI and audio at the same time. “He pulled up stock synths in Logic Audio, then used that to trigger, along with his audio,” Griffin says. “He just sent me MIDI through his Roland rig…then they all just went to town.”

For more information on the Cutting Room, visit www.thecuttingroom.com. Visit www.johnmclaughlin.com for album updates.