The George Fludas Organ Quartet from International Phonograph: behind the scenes (part 2 of 2)

In part 1 of of this piece I introduced and reviewed The George Fludas Organ Quartet on copy master tape from Chicago-based International Phonograph Inc. Here, we venture behind the scenes at IPI to discover more about how the tape was made.

I’m grateful to IPI’s Jonathan Horwich for sending me some notes and photographs from the album’s recording session, which give a very personal insight into the day and into some of the decisions that were made in order to achieve such a natural and free sound. 

The session took place in 2018 at Tone Zone Recording in Chicago.

Jonathan is aiming for a homogenous sound rather than a bunch of isolated elements (four guys). He wants some bleed-through because otherwise it “sounds unnatural like each instrument is in its own pocket”. Great, I’m with him on this. To me this is one of the biggest benefits of really good analogue, the fact that the spaces between and around instruments are natural, filled with atmosphere and shading and presence, not merely a null, a void, a vacuum. 

So, over to Jonathan, and his notes and photos from the recording session…

As crazy as this looks, this is the back of the organ speaker. I found that the sound coming out of the back was less woody than from the front of the speaker. So I mic’d the back as you can see. The organ itself is connected to this speaker (called a Leslie) with wires, and the sound of the organ keyboard (which is physically completely separate) comes out of this big speaker box, with the bass coming out the lower slot you see and the mid/highs coming out the top. The two mics on the left in the pix cover the mid/highs and the mic pointng down on the right covers the bass opening

Below left are the two stereo configured mics picking up the mid/highs of the organ speaker. Normally, I use these Neumann 254s for classical string sounds but here I felt they would give a very clean organ sound – and they did. Basically I stereo mic’d the organ. 

Below centre is the mic (Neumann U87 – a famous Neumann mic from the good old days) covering the bass speaker of the organ.

And below right is the organ keyboard. 

Organ player Pete Benson below. 

Organ player Pete Benson

Below left is the custom stereo tube mic I use over the drums. You’re seeing it as if you’re the drummer playing the drums and looking at it in front of you as you play. It is an omnidirectional microphone and although modernly made, it’s one of the finest sounding microphones ever created. Stunning on drums and piano. The tubes for the mic are in the black box to which the mics are attached. 

And below right is drummer, George Fludas. A true veteran and pro. 

Below left is the legendary Telefunken 215e, which I used on guitar giving it a very clear sound as the guitar player played through an amp with reverb. I didn’t want to add any other tone to the sound so I chose the very clean 251e which gave a lovely result. 

Below right, the guitarist obviously – Kyle Asche, a lovely player. Note the small baffle near his left foot which keeps some of the other sounds from the other players away from his microphone. Note also the baffles dividing him from the drummer to keep the drum sound from dominating the room. The baffles only partially block the drum sound. Too much baffling and it sounds unnatural, like each instrument is in its own pocket. 

Speaking of legendary, see the below left Neumann U-67, my favourite all-round microphone. I used it in this session on tenor saxophone. The sax is a 1950’s Selmer and is gorgeous and mellow which this mic complements. 

Below right is sax player Scott Burns. Stunning tone as you’ll hear. Old school sound. 

For more details and to buy a copy of this recording of The George Fludas Organ Quartet: