Streisand At the Vanguard

Nov 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley



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Jim Flynn, of Jim Flynn Rentals, provided equipment.

Jim Flynn, of Jim Flynn Rentals, provided equipment.

Reitzas also brought along his Brauner VM1, which was used on the acoustic bass, along with a clipped-on DPA 4061. On drums, a pair of Audio-Technica AT4060s was used for overheads, AE3000s on the toms and an AT4041 for the bottom of the snare. The baby grand was miked with a pair of AKG 414s.

The live nature of the recording and the intimacy of the club's interior meant that the engineers also put a lot of emphasis on audience mics. Reitzas, Abolin and Flynn agreed on a pair each of Schoeps MK 2s and MK 4s, hanging on stereo bars over the seating area. Reitzas also stuck an Audio-Technica PZM boundary microphone to one of the walls. “I'll usually use that on the floor in front of the drum kit, but it worked well bringing more of the audience in,” he says.

Processing was fairly minimal. Reitzas brought along four channels of NTI PreQ3 that were used sparingly on the snare, the overhead drum mics and Streisand's microphone. As the show went on, Reitzas added a touch of reverb from a Bricasti M7. “I'd cut it in between songs when she was talking,” he says.

The Unexpected Mix

The show was intended to herald Streisand's return to her cabaret roots, but the audio recording and a high-definition video of the event would serve various purposes, the most immediate of which was to get promotional video clips of the performance to media outlets, including the CBS Morning Show, YouTube and AOL music channels. To that end, Flynn had set up a mix room in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, with a second 16 I/O Pro Tools HD system ready to run, as well as a Big Ben word clock, a Dangerous Music summing box, the Bricasti M7 reverb unit hooked up via AES, and an SSL stereo compressor and GML 8200 parametric EQ on the sum outputs of the Dangerous, with a Benchmark DAC1 for monitoring the mix. Reitzas and Abolin sped uptown in separate cabs to the Waldorf carrying the hard drives and the same Genelec 8050 monitors used in the remote unit. “We had a new Mac Pro with tons of memory for handling plug-ins and the Waves Diamond bundle, which we used to remove some of the noise in the bass and guitar DI boxes,” says Abolin. Other plug-ins included Brainworx EQ and Altiverb.

The plan was to mix in the box, which they began doing around midnight. But around 3 a.m., word came that CBS needed the footage sooner than expected. “Like, ‘now,’” Reitzas recalls. They realized they would have to go with the live mix done through the 1604 mixer. However, it now seems, that was where the magic had been waiting all along. “I printed a version [of the live mix] and listened to it against the video, and it was perfect just as it was,” says Reitzas, reliving the intensity of sitting in the tightly confined remote truck, intently watching Streisand perform on a small video monitor as his fingers subtly responded on the Mackie's faders. “The process of recording, to me, is always filled with emotion. We're not recording just to do a mix later on. What goes down at that moment should be great when it goes down. Some of the best mixes I've ever done were rough mixes. The reason a rough mix always trumps a regular mix is that it comes right from the heart.”

Forty-eight years is a long time between club gigs, but Streisand pulled it off brilliantly, as the recording illustrates. “As fate would have it, when she did that audition four decades ago, she didn't get the gig,” says Jay Landers. “So now, as The Beatles say at the end of Let It Be, last week she finally passed the audition.”

Dan Daley is a journalist and author. He lives in Nashville and New York.

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