by David Kernohan and Viv Rolfe
It was a privilege being part of the DS106 ‘3 Fingers of Gin‘ radio show recently. Whoever so effortlessly turned out such a professional sounding production was a genius, and I never anticipated our attempt at ‘noir jazz’ sounding so good. As always with DS106, from the chaos and different ideas and talents of the group emerged something slick and entertaining. What amazing people.
When I think of ‘noir jazz’ the atmospheric black and white photographs of Herman Leonard immediately spring to mind. The smoke-filled pictures and crisp lighting conjure up sounds of dark saxophone or bright trumpet just drifting through space. John Coltrane and Charlie Parker never really did it for me in terms of their harsher saxophone tones, but the likes of Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster would certainly be more appropriate for that velvety, growly, ‘noir’ sound. I’m very lucky to have a superb Julius Keilworth saxophone that weighs a tonne, but that is the trade off for a good sound. I’ve also been lucky to hit on a spectacular reed at the moment – so this recording will never be entirely reproducible in time as the quality of reed vary so much and influence the sound tone greatly.
When we set to record our music I think David and myself instinctively knew what it would be, and as always, we had very little conversation about it. We recorded all in one take. The first take is always the best. Most of it was bashed out on a Technics KN6000 which has done more gigs than I can shake a stick at but still can produce any music style that you could possibly wish for. We used the Technics for bass and drums.
We record the Technics directly through a Blue Snowball microphone into GarageBand which isn’t ideal and we could do with finding some direct input connectors, but hey, it seems to work. You do tend to pick up the clatter of the keys. Headphones on, and guitar, sax and other instruments were then layered over the top. GarageBand is brilliant and has never let me down through all the recordings and punishment that I throw at it.
We tried to create a series of moods that would enhance the radio show – whatever it would end up being. Motifs from parts 1 and 2 can be heard throughout with growling saxophone. My favourite was part 3 – all David’s own work featuring a flute which was somewhere between ‘car chase’ and ‘lift music’.
I like the idea of creating musical moods – I have a book of silent movie piano music – that can provide anything from ‘Fervent Passion’ to ‘Unleashing Storms’. Perhaps we should record some more for the next instalment of ‘3 Fingers of Gin’!