Milford, NH – Few musicians span the musical gamut quite like Branford Marsalis. While known primarily for his work in the jazz genre, the versatile saxophonist/bandleader/composer regularly performs as a soloist, with classical ensembles, and earlier in his career, led the group Buckshot LeFonque, which merged the influences of jazz, rock, R&B, and hip-hop into something entirely new and refreshing. Whether recording or performing live, there’s one constant—in addition to his musical talents—that helps ensure his signature sound: the use of a wide range of Earthworks microphones.
Rob “Wacko” Hunter has served as Branford Marsalis’ recording and live sound engineer since the mid 90’s. With a background that includes being drummer for the British metal renaissance band Raven prior to taking a seat behind the mixing console, Hunter co-produced and engineered Marsalis’ “Contemporary Jazz” album—for which he received a Grammy® Award. He also had a prominent role in the creation of the first Buckshot LeFonque album. With credits like these, Hunter clearly understands the importance of choosing microphones carefully. He discussed his fondness for Earthworks.
“I use all the Earthworks mics I have both in the studio and at a live concert,” Hunter notes. “My Earthworks microphone arsenal includes the DK25/L (live) and DK25/R (recording) drum kit mic systems, five P30/C Periscope microphones, four QTC40’s, two SR30’s, as well as the PM40 PianoMic™ System. We typically don’t use recording studios anymore, as we prefer to record our basic tracks in a church or concert hall setting, and these setups are pretty much the same as we use for a concert performance.”
Hunter’s favorite microphone for use on Branford’s saxophone is the Earthworks P30/C Periscope™ mic. “He likes to play off axis,” Hunter says. “For those times when Branford happens to be right on the microphone, the P30/C can definitely handle the SPL (sound pressure level). Branford also likes the P30/C’s low profile on stage. It’s a great mic. Since we usually perform in concert halls and Branford has great tone and a huge sound, we like to take full advantage of the room’s acoustics, so I also like to use the Earthworks QTC40’s to capture the room’s ambience. They give me a well balanced, full sounding and accurate representation of the band in the room. They’re the perfect microphones for that application.”
The Earthworks P30/C is also one of Hunter’s go-to mics for recording the piano. “I like the P30/C when recording the piano because of its low/mid/high zone focus, its clarity, and the ease of positioning the microphones via the goosenecks,” he explained.
For miking the piano on live performances, Hunter has a clear preference for the Earthworks PM40 PianoMic™ System. “For outdoor festival-type venues where there are no hall acoustics to take advantage of,” Hunter continued, “I like to go for a tighter sound with the piano lid closed and, for this, I really like the PM40. The PM40 is easy to use and very quick to position on the piano—and this feature is extremely valuable during those frantic festival stage changeovers. From a musical perspective, the PM40 delivers a full sound with the lid closed and provides excellent isolation. The system’s two mics give me a very well balanced and crystal clear representation of the piano’s highs, mids, and lows.”
Miking the drums is always a challenge and, for this, Hunter finds the Earthworks DK25/L DrumKit™ microphone system a terrific choice. “All the house engineers and drummers I work with comment on how clear and articulate the sound of the drums are using the live drum kit system,” says Hunter. “The ability of these mics to handle the sharp attack transients without my using a lot of compression provides a more natural sounding instrument in the live setting.”
Marsalis Music and Redeye distribution are proud to announce the release of a rare new album by New Orleans’ own Marsalis family – out on August 24, 2010. One of the most famous New Orleans multigenerational jazz families gathered together last June at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for a very special evening of celebration, appreciation, and performances as Marsalis family patriarch Ellis Marsalis received The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “Our Earthworks microphones were there with us for this unforgettable event,” Hunter says, “and they certainly contributed to the high performance levels captured on this recording. These mics are a very important component of everything we do.”
About Marsalis Music
Marsalis Music is the creation of Branford Marsalis, one of the most celebrated jazz musicians of the past quarter century. Based upon his extensive experience as a saxophonist, composer and bandleader, Marsalis recognized the need to form a label that allows a diverse array of musicians to document their best effort. Launched in 2002, Marsalis Music has focused primarily on jazz, with a roster featuring such promising new artists as Miguel Zenón and Claudia Acuña as well as Marsalis himself and such established stylists as Joey Calderazzo and Harry Connick, Jr.
About Earthworks, Inc.
Earthworks is a New Hampshire, U.S.A. based manufacturer of High Definition Microphones™ that is dedicated to quality and sonic excellence. Each Earthworks product is handmade with great care, meticulous attention to detail, and a strong emphasis on quality. Earthworks prides itself in making only the very best in professional audio equipment intended for mission critical sound applications. For additional information, visit the company online at www.earthworksaudio.com.