The Imani Winds Quintet with their producer and engineers. Pictured from left to right: Susan DelGiorno (producer, Koch International Classics), Rene Marie (vocals), Toyin Spellman-Diaz (oboe), Joe Tompkinson (percussion), Monica Ellis (bassoon), Valerie Coleman (flute), Mariam Adam (clarinet), Jeff Scott (horn), Andy Ryder (second engineer) and Silas Brown (engineer).
The Imani Winds, whose debut 2005 album The Classical Underground was nominated for a Grammy in 2006, is a woodwind quintet that incorporates African, Latin American and American music traditions into their repertoire. The group’s 2006-2007 multimedia performance Josephine Baker—A Life of Le Jazz Hot!, featuring renowned jazz vocalist Rene Marie and on tour in selected U.S. cities, is a tribute to the legendary singer, dancer and actress on what would be her 100th birthday.
Koch International Classics producer and general manager Susan DelGiorno asked engineer Silas Brown of Legacy Sound to record the show. Silas captured Imani Winds in high resolution surround sound over four days at the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center.
“The challenge in my line of work is capturing sound with a visceral impact, tremendous detail and warmth that doesn’t sound unnaturally colored,” Silas explains.
Silas placed one Crowley and Tripp Proscenium ribbon microphone about two feet in front of Jeff Scott’s French horn, angled slightly to the floor. “Miking from the front—keeping away from the sounds firing backward from the bell—was important. But the fact that the Proscenium is so tonally matched to the horn is really what made Jeff feel so positive about it,” Silas says.
“The Proscenium is more open sounding than a vintage ribbon,” Silas adds. “It has more desirable high frequency components. But at the same time, it still has that thick low-end richness that you really want in a ribbon. So its quality is in league with the classics, but its sound is unique. It also has a lower noise floor than the older designs.”
Silas also spot-miked guest percussionist Joe Tompkinson’s drum set and hand percussion with a pair of Royer SF-1As and flutist Valerie Coleman with an AEA R84. Clarinetist Mariam Adam and bassoonist Monica Ellis each received their own RCA 44-BX studio ribbon (provided for the sessions by Grammy award-winning producer Adam Abeshouse), and Rene Marie sang into a Neumann M149 tube condenser. To capture the entire ensemble in surround, Silas used two DPA 4003s for front left/right and two DPA 4011s for rear left/right.
Silas used similar placement with his second Crowley and Tripp Proscenium on Toyin Spellman-Diaz’s oboe. Both of the Prosceniums were amplified by George Massenburg Labs (GML) 8304 preamps. The recorded tone was dictated by mic selection and placement, and no processing was used. Together with a multichannel Millennia Media preamp, the 8304 was converted by a Prism Sound ADA8, which fed a Merging Pyramix DAW.