“For recording sessions, I always carry a matched pair of QTC40s to mic my guitar. When I first began doing this, engineers usually responded with a frown, so I had to assure them that my QTC40s would give them a great acoustic guitar sound from the get-go, or we could switch back to their favorite mics. After doing this on hundreds of record dates, no one ever changed the mics after they heard how great the QTC40s sound.”
Guitarist and composer Ken Hatfield’s rare combination of talents makes him a truly singular artist. With his boundless imagination, formidable fingerstyle technique, and expansive musical knowledge, he has created a body of work of astonishing originality and exceptional quality. In June 2006 the ASCAP Foundation honored Ken by presenting him with its prestigious Jazz Vanguard Award in recognition of his “innovative and distinctive music that is charting new directions in jazz.”
Hatfield’s seven CDs as a leader on the Arthur Circle Music label demonstrate his tremendous gifts as both composer and performer and attest to his consistently high level of artistry. His releases have established a firm presence on national jazz radio and adult eclectic radio charts, in addition to having garnered wide recognition from the critics. Ken’s 2006 solo release, String Theory, highlights his technical virtuosity and versatility as he performs a group of original works composed for classical guitar, dobro and mandolin. Andy Ellis wrote in Guitar Player (April 2006): “It’s a treat to stumble across fresh guitar sounds and novel concepts, and guitarist Ken Hatfield offers both in his latest solo album… Throughout String Theory, Hatfield’s playing is brainy, dynamic, and relentlessly melodic.” In JAZZIZ magazine (March 2004), Bill Milkowski chose Hatfield’s trio CD, The Surrealist Table, as one of the 20 top acoustic guitar albums to have. And in JazzTimes (Jan/Feb 2003) Jim Ferguson wrote of Hatfield’s Phoenix Rising CD: “Recommended for those with an affinity for the subtle and sublime.”
Hatfield’s compositional experience covers a wide range of styles and instrumentations. In addition to composing jazz works for his own ensembles, he has written chamber pieces that range from solo classical guitar to string quartet and mixed ensembles of various sizes. He has composed choral works and ballet scores, including commissioned works for Judith Jamison, The Washington Ballet Company, and the Maurice Béjart Ballet Company. And he has written scores for television and film, including Eugene Richards’ award-winning documentary but, the day came. Arthur Circle Music has published five books of Hatfield’s compositions, and in 2005 Mel Bay published his book Jazz and the Classical Guitar: Theory and Application, which is designed to demonstrate Ken’s unique approach to playing jazz on a classical guitar.
In addition to performing as a solo artist and with his ensembles at such prestigious venues as The JVC Jazz Festival, The Knitting Factory, The Classic American Guitar Show, The Smithsonian Jazz Café, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Whitney Sculpture Court, and the North Wales International Jazz Guitar Festival, Hatfield has performed and/or recorded with Charlie Byrd, Jack McDuff, Chico Hamilton, Jimmy McGriff, Melissa Manchester, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Stephanie Mills, Linda Hopkins, Billy Daniels, Pat Benatar, Maurice Hines, Charles Aznavour, Bob Cranshaw, Grady Tate, Harold Mabern, Brian Torff, Marcus Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Dom Salvador, João Donato, Claudio Roditi, Lew Tabackin, Kenny Werner, Ben E. King, Eddie Kendricks, Marlena Shaw, Vivian Reed, Z.Z. Hill and Toni Braxton.
Hatfield began studying the guitar with John Griggs in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia, before enrolling at the Berklee College of Music, where he joined the faculty at the age of 19. He studied counterpoint and composition with Paul Caputo in New York City, and received the degree of Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York.
Ken Hatfield miking setup
Earthworks mics reproduce my sound better than any mics I’ve every used. My favorite setup is a matched pair of QTC40s placed about 10 to 16 inches in front of the face of my guitar, spread about 10 to 12 inches apart. I use this setup whenever there is sufficient isolation to minimize the bleed from other instruments.
Whenever there is not enough isolation to use omnis, I use Earthworks cardioid or hyper cardioid mics, set up a bit further away in a similar separation pattern.
Ken Hatfield albums using Earthworks mics
Ken Hatfield, Etudes for Solo Guitar in 24 Keys, Arthur Circle Music, 2008
Ken Hatfield, String Theory, Arthur Circle Music, 2005
Ken Hatfield Trio, The Surrealist Table, Arthur Circle Music, 2003
Ken Hatfield, Phoenix Rising, Arthur Circle Music, 2002
Ken Hatfield, Dyad, Arthur Circle Music, 2000
Ken Hatfield, Explorations for Solo Guitar, Arthur Circle Music, 1999
Ken Hatfield and Hans Glawischnig, Music for Guitar and Bass, Arthur Circle Music, 1998