Im currently studying an audio production course at uni and our latest assignment is about recording a jazz band.

Essentially we have to write up a brief for the recording of a jazz band, detailing our mic choices and placement of musicians in the room etc. We have been given a list of what instruments will be used and what mics are available, and a floor plan of the studio.

Im ok with all the technical stuff (what mic to use to get what sound, how to avoid spill in the mics etc.) however I have a "small" problem...i dont listen to jazz! I have absolutely no idea what characteristics make up a jazz sound, so im turning to you for help...

Are there any online resources that you guys could point me to, or even just some advice from yourselves. Im looking for things like sound of the drum kit, guitar tones etc. i play bass, and have an ok understanding of music so if you get a bit technical i should be able to keep up.

Thanks in advance guys.
I know none of the technical stuff, but from my listening experience I can say that in a jazz recording every instrument should be clearly heard, with all articulations and as natural as it is live. I don't know how to make it, but everything should be clear and natural sounding.
What kind of jazz band is it?
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If its a big band type thing, mic the bass, drums, piano, then a few different mics for the horn sections. If its a combo, mic all the instruments and have some room mics too. Just listen to a few jazz tunes and that will help you a ton as far as instrument tones go.
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Here ya go:



Here is an orchestra plan of the hottest jazz orchestra in the 40s and 50s:


Listen here:


Mercury records and Command records printed the tecnical info (mics, tape deck, engineer) on the back of their albums.

The number 1 factor of success recording a big band is: HIGH CEILINGS !
We're talking here of a absolute minimum of 15 feet ceilings, but generally not less than 18-20 feet ceilings.

Otherwise you go crazy with the room reflections, delays, cancellations, instrument separation, stereo image and depth.

There is internet radio with dozens of specialized channels in all styles. Check here:


Finally, I highly recommend getting your mitts on the DVD "Tom Dowd & The Lanugage of Music".


That all you need ?

BTW What size is the band ? What instrument formation ?
Last edited by ColdGin at May 20, 2008,