As a first-call drummer in New York City, Terry Silverlight works with many top-level musicians. He also works in his personal studio as a composer, a producer, and an arranger. Wild (Silverlight Records, 2004) is Silverlight's second solo album, which he mixed at home and coproduced with Will Lee. “It revisits my jazz-fusion roots,” Silverlight says. For Wild, Silverlight assembled distinguished musical guests including Lee, Paul Shaffer, Edgar Winter, Hiram Bullock, Chuck Loeb, Lew Soloff, David Mann, Charles Blenzig, Mike Ricchiuti, and John Clark.
“My goal was to capture the spontaneity and energy of a live performance,” Silverlight says. Lee advised Silverlight to record at New York's Avatar Studios. “We booked two half-days,” Silverlight says. “Avatar's Studio B is a smaller room. [Engineer] Jason Corsaro set up the room so we could all see one another. My drums were in the middle of the room while the grand piano, Rhodes, B-3 organ, sax, and trumpet were [each] partitioned off. Will played electric bass and went direct. [Guitarists] Chuck and Hiram went direct in stereo, and their amps were placed in a partitioned corner. I was amazed at the minimal leakage.
“Everything went through a Neve console directly into Pro Tools,” Silverlight says. “Each drum and cymbal was miked individually, and Jason tuned the drums to match the timbre of the room. When I mixed, every time I'd add EQ, compression, or gates, it would detract from the original recording. So, aside from a little reverb on the snare, you hear the drums the way they were recorded.” Pro Tools engineer Lawrence Manchester converted the sessions into MOTU Digital Performer files so that Silverlight could continue working on the album at home.
“There was very little overdubbing,” Silverlight reveals. Clark and Winter recorded parts in their own studios and provided Silverlight with AIFF files. “Dave and Lew overdubbed themselves a few times on ‘Brown 'n Serve’ at Avatar,” Silverlight adds. “I recorded myself on keyboards in my studio on ‘Windsurfing,’ ‘Wild,’ and ���WTC.’
“I mixed the entire album using DP3, a dual-processor Mac G4, and the Tascam DM-24 digital board,” Silverlight says. “I used the DM-24 as a slave to DP. I used some reverb and EQ on the DM-24, but all other effects were plug-ins. I don't own high-end outboard gear. Plus, plug-ins are automated, and you can save and recall settings instantly.”
Working with numerous large audio files proved to be a major hurdle. “My computer's processor was taxed,” Silverlight says. “As a work-around, I often bounced individual tracks with plug-ins, fades, and volume curves embedded. I then went back to the original tracks, disabled the plug-ins, and removed their voice allocation, which freed up memory and processing power. In DP, you can save the mixing board's layout with all plug-ins enabled, and then disable the plug-ins and save that as a separate setup.”
Silverlight tested his mixes in varied listening environments. “I listened in headphones, on my Yamaha NS10Ms, on home-stereo speakers, in my car, and on other people's systems, including Will's,” he says. “They sounded different in every situation, so I had to come up with EQ settings that seemed to translate equally on every system.
“The music features an interplay between all of the musicians that could only be captured live, not as overdubs,” Silverlight concludes. “I tracked in a great studio to achieve quality sounds from each instrument, instead of trying to replicate that [sound] in my own studio or resorting to overdubbing. I think I got exactly what I had intended musically.”A
For more information, contact Silverlight Records; Webwww.terrysilverlight.com.