George Walker Petit and Walkerecordings Jazz

Mark F. Turner By

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Hell, if you are about to part with a lot of money to do a CD you'd better trust your recording team and not just your players.
When listening to recorded jazz music it's easy to take for granted the dynamics of what took place behind the scenes in the recording studio. The final listening experience is the culmination of meticulous skill, creativity, and hard work, of not only the performing musicians but also skilled technicians who work diligently to capture the essence of the music that we hear.

Technology has changed both the playing and recording field. All genres of music have been affected to varying degrees by technology and the changing nature of the industry. Whether in the performance, the recording, the mixing, or the mastering stage, the process of realizing the final product has been changed fundamentally by technology for better or worse. Even the initial creative process leading to composition has been altered by the new tools of the trade. It is not uncommon to meet a self professed "musician" that really hasn't any facility on what we once recognized as an "instrument." Almost anyone can make a musical statement by learning to manipulate technology rather than learning to actually "play" an instrument. And when you combine this new paradigm with some of the now industry-standard recording platforms, the creation of music can exist totally in the virtual world.

With technology easily at the musician's fingertips, why is a recording studio even needed? Think about it. What can't you do with a top of the line VST plug-in, a great sounding "modeling" reverb, a few carefully edited loops, and a lap-top computer?

Well thankfully there are indeed some things that can't be done in the virtual world. A few of the tangible factors that exist in creating Jazz music are things such as interplay, improvisation, human error, and expression in the moment. They are all accounted for in real time in real studios such as Walkerecordings Jazz.

In what is likely the most competitive city in the world, New York, and with the present confused state of the music industry, trying to survive as a recording studio is a constant battle to say the least. Some say that the days of the "Big Studio" are obsolete. With home studios, hard disc recording, loops, and plug-ins, the business of recording music has changed profoundly. Many say that the secret to survival in this environment is to specialize -to do what you do best and carve out a niche. That is precisely what the Walkerecordings studio is doing by exclusively recording jazz music.

Walkerecordings opened in 2001 by producer/engineer/musician George Walker Petit on 21st street in Manhattan. The studio comprises two live rooms and a spacious control room all designed by an award-winning acoustician. Petit made careful decisions when buying top of the line recording gear with names such as Neve, Amek, Neumann, AKG, Lexicon, Slingerland, Sennheiser, Royer, and Martech. Petit's technical insight led him to acquire "signal paths" as opposed to "pieces" of gear which help to answer musician questions such as What is the best microphone, preamp, and compressor to use when taping an instrument? The end results are recordings that sound great.

What makes Walkerecordings different is Petit. Petit picked up his engineering chops over the last 25 years working in and/or owning recording facilities in New York, L.A., and even in northern Vermont. He has learned over the years that each player is different and has a sound that might not be recorded as well as one would expect by using the "normal" gear or approach. He states "For example, every drummer has a different touch and method of expression'if the drummer has a light, traditional approach to brushes the music being performed is subtle. Microphone choices and placements must be made to correctly translate this player's performance to recorded sound, right? Well of course, but there are a lot of engineer/producers out there that setup the same old snare microphone every time'and are used to tracking R&B sounds, not Jazz." Petit has studied and been exposed to the music and has accumulated thousands of hours of sessions over the years ranging from producing for Columbia records in the 1980's to writing music for commercial television advertising. It's his passion, his hobby, his job, and he loves his work.


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