Thomas Leisner

About Beauty and Bright Ideas
September 25th, 2011 by Thomas Leisner

Qualita Rossa

Some weeks ago, when I went to my cellar, I found a CD that I had forgotten about for many years: A demo of my former smooth-jazz trio „Qualita Rossa“, and I was surprised how much I liked the sound – much better than I had it in mind.

Qualita RossaI don‘t remember exactly, but it must be about 15 years ago that we went to a recording studio for this demo containing three songs. The trio covered jazz classics, especially latin stuff, and arranged it mostly in a soft bossa-nova like style, to fit in places like the background of a hotel bar.

For me it was the first project in which I consequently played drums the way a left-handed drummer would do. I had just recently decided to concentrate on a very basic drumset consisting of just bassdrum, snare, hihat and one cymbal. A perfect setup to learn the very basics of drumming – and compact enough to easily turn it from right to left and back again to learn those basics both ways.

In that context I mostly played with brushes, which made the drums sound more like percussions and softly integrated them into the sound of the band. I like that sound very much. The only thing I didn‘t like in this recording were dynamics in the final mix. I remember we wanted the sound to be as natural as possible, avoiding effects. But listening to it today I definitely missed compression. It sounded thin, weak, and wasn‘t loud at all.

So I decided to master the recording using my high quality analogue compression and mastering equipment. It‘s originally meant for recording my drum samples with perfect quality and level, but it‘s actually perfect for mastering, too. I used the FMR Audio PBC‘s for adding density and character, enhanced the sound with the great old Behringer Ultrafex and finally limited it with the UREI LA-22 to get it loud.

All tracks were recorded at Greve Studios Berlin, not exactly sure when, but maybe something like 1995, when Volker Greve had just opened his brand new recording studio. The musicians are Bo Wällstedt on vocals and guitar, Harald Zawuski on bass, and myself, Thomas Leisner, on Drums. Volker Greve did the recording and mixing. No mastering was applied back in those days.

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