Dianne Reeves | Crooning With Strings

Mar 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Candace Horgan

DIANNE REEVES PERFORMS ONE-OFF WITH COLORADO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

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Dianne Reeves performing with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and her quartet for a special jazz Christmas show that would later be broadcast in DTS surround to NPR stations.

Dianne Reeves performing with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and her quartet for a special jazz Christmas show that would later be broadcast in DTS surround to NPR stations.

A jazz quartet walks into a concert hall and meets a symphony orchestra. That’s not the opening line to a tall tale, but a concert put on at Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver on December 14, 2010. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Marvin Hamlisch paired with Dianne Reeves and her quartet to put on a jazz Christmas show.

The show was recorded for later broadcast in DTS 5.1 on NPR by Mike Pappas and Thucydides “Duke” Marcos. Boettcher Hall is a tricky place to work in, with lots of shallow angles and an open, in-the-round feel. That presented a lot of challenges for Paul Boothe, Reeves’ sound engineer. Boothe has been working on sound engineering since the early 1980s, and has been with Reeves since 2004. Prior to that, he was with Michael Brecker.

“I started in 1983,” says Boothe. “Before that, I was a musician. In ’83, I was so hungry that I looked in the paper for a gig. I was a cellist in a rock band for many years, and cellists in rock bands have time to walk the house, so I was also doing sound from the stage—I thought I knew something about sound. I saw ‘Soundman Wanted’ in the paper, and the soundman who had the gig took pity on me. I was horrible; I had not a clue because I had worked on tiny 6-channel P.A.s. So I did that for a while, then was a production manager of a nightclub. It started out as a blues club, but you couldn’t make a living doing seven nights a week blues.

Reeve’s sound engineer, Paul Boothe, mans a DiGiCo SD7, using few effects off the board with the exception of some compression on Reeves’ vocals.

Reeve’s sound engineer, Paul Boothe, mans a DiGiCo SD7, using few effects off the board with the exception of some compression on Reeves’ vocals.

“I’d always had an affinity for jazz, and I met some artist managers as they came through this club in Cambridge, and I met a guy who I liked who was from the area and was managing Michael Brecker. He put me on a USIA tour with a small Bose P.A., and we went behind the Iron Curtain and did shows for the fans. It was a lot of work. That was my first one, and then a year later I got another of those. The second one had a pianist who I became friends with. Later, she was in a manager’s office who was managing a drummer named Tony Williams, and his road manager had called up while she was in the office about a Japanese tour. It was Tony Williams’ first time back to Japan in 40 years; he had some problems with the authorities on the Miles’ tour a long time ago, so it was his first time back and it was a big deal for the manager, and she was all up in arms, and my friend Rainey said, ‘Oh, I know a guy,’ and that was my last sound company gig. From that time on, I was doing audio and road managing. It’s a work in progress still.”

For the Reeves/Colorado Symphony Orchestra show, Pappas brought in a DiGiCo SD7 console with MADI capability. Although there were close to 100 microphones onstage, only about half of those were used for the broadcast while the others were used for sound reinforcement in the hall. The SD7 allowed Pappas and Boothe to split the feeds. Fine-tuning the SD7 before Boothe arrived was Aric Christensen, the house engineer for the Boettcher.

“It’s really set up well to do theater stuff,” says Christensen of the SD7. “You can set up each scene and have multiples within that scene. You can do stuff like change the delay settings of where a performer is. Let’s say they start at an upstage position; you can move to a scene after that where they are crossing so you can change the delay times and time-align your P.A. with where the performer is onstage. In an analog world, there’s no way of doing that. It’s really versatile.”






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