Two session players that work with Sam are Stuart West (Trumpet, flugel horn, harmonica, melodica and more) and Tony Gibson (Trombone) came into the studio today. Their task was lay down some parts for Poverty Stricken Blues, a sort of African number with four-to-floor stomping and plenty of glorious melodic guitar parts. We hadn’t worked on the song for months, and so on first listen it sounded fresh, alive and vibrant.

We recorded some harmonica parts first. Stuart had brought in this old “bullet microphone” – an old dynamic mic that was plugged straight into a Marshall amp. It gave it that old bluesy gritty sound. I initially had a fair whack of distortion on it, but after a take or two, we decided to back the distortion back a bit. The amp was miked up with a black Neumann U87, positioned close to the speaker. The amp wasn’t loud so there was no worry of feedback or extreme volume. This mic was fed into the Digidesign Pre and then onto an audio track. No EQ, no compression – just the tone.

For safety I also miked the harmonica itself (with some slight spill from the amp), with a silver U87. I imagined that if I wasn’t happy with the guitar amp sound later, I could process the dry sound through Native Instruments Guitar Rig, or similar. In the end, I probably won’t be using this mic. This ran through the Avalon 737 pre-amp, with some slight boost in the upper mids. No compression.

Next Stuart stayed in the studio and we recorded some flugel horn. Stuart had some basic ideas and we tried a bunch of them, and there will be some piecing together later of these parts. Harmonies, layers and more lines were recorded. Again I used the silver U87 through the abovementioned Avalon.

Trombone went through a similar recording chain – U87 into the Avalon 737. Some small boost in the lower mids around 200Hz and some clarity in the upper mids was all that was required. I kept the recording level low. Tony is fast when it comes to working out his parts. He listens to the lines Stuart has recorded and in a few takes can lay down doubling lines, harmonies and bass growls. Stuart is guiding but it’s all a relatively fast, smooth process.

There will be some tidying/tuning to do, and I’ll probably move some lines here or there. The guys tend to record lots and let me work it out later. But there’s plenty to work with.

Assistant today was AIM student Adam Jeszensky. He’s at level 2, and so has only a limited amount of recording experience. Did well though and never short of a question!