Bassist/film composer Dan Kolton and recording artist BruceDunlap’s Santa Fe Jazz and International Music Festivalcelebrated its third series of concerts this fall. During thethree-week period that commenced on October 19, 2004—a total of24 concerts, featuring Randy and Michael Brecker, Bill Frisell, KennyWerner and Dave Holland—attracted thousands of fans, Dunlap wasresponsible for the overall direction of the festival and Koltonoversaw the recording and front-of-house mixing for the package ofshows.
Pictured: Jazz great Neena Freelon at the recent Santa Fe JazzFestival using a KMS 105
Back in 2000, the concerts were held in a 400-seat venue, butincreased interest in the programming has allowed the promoters to moveto a space twice the size. For Kolton, who learned engineering on thejob when he put together his own project studio in Michigan, theexperience of working with multiple artists in rapid succession hasbeen quite an experience: “Trial by fire, I guess that’s the best wayto put it! You find out in a hurry that you have to lean on theequipment you use. There are certainly time pressures in the film andtelevision business, but a single piece of equipment failure doesn’texpose you in front of a full audience the way it would in a livesituation.”
Kolton has come to rely heavily on his cabinet of Neumannmicrophones. “We’ve got a number of Neumann mics, and they individuallyhandle specific tasks extremely well. For example, I like to use a pairof TLM 193s on piano. For jazz, I find that backing off the mics alittle lets me capture a full picture of the whole piano. I’ve foundthe 193s have a smoother and more realistic sound for this application.They pick up the high frequencies accurately without yielding an overlybright sound. I’ve also used the Neumann KM 184s—a pair ofthem—on the piano, but one of my very favorite applications forthe 184s is using them for audience overheads. The 184s capture a niceimage of the stage while bringing the audience into the picture in avery natural way. Then again, the 184 is a workhorse mic. I’ve usedthem on acoustic guitars and as overheads for drums. I find thatplacing them up high delivers a beautiful stereo image of the drums.When a percussionist shows up with a broad percussion table, I’ll grabthe 184s, once again because of the beautiful image they capture of awide space.”
Kolton likes to use a Neumann TLM 170 on acoustic bass, aninstrument whose properties he is particularly familiar with. “Some ofthe bassists performing at the festival have never used amplification,yet getting them to use the 170 is never a problem. With its smoothsound and easy rejection, I can focus directly on the instrument anddeliver a clear, natural sound. If, for example, a trio of piano, bassand amplified voice is performing I might throw some Neumann TLM 193son the piano, a Neumann KMS 105 on the vocalist and a TLM 170 on thebassist. I’m basically a minimalist, so having the 170 bottom solid andsmooth while the top and mids retain the image of the attack, themusicians are comfortable with their performance sound.”
Kolton splits his signals by running a bus from the mix consoleinputs to an Alesis HD24 hard disk recorder. All of the HD24 channelshave True Precision preamps on the front end. “I really can’t sayenough good things about the True Precision preamps. It’s really verysimple. These mic pre’s sound great! They add nothing to thesound that you don’t want and deliver everything you dowant!”