"It's not the gear, it's the guy." I've thought that adage applies
especially to RVG. He's famous for being secretive, but really what could he
tell anyone beyond what they could read in the manual? "Point this end
toward the instrument." The rest is about this player in this room for this
client for this project, and this set of problems to solve. Much of it was
obvious, and any competent tech would do the same things. The rest was his
experience and concept, which was personal, so what could he tell anyone?
It is interesting how the style that ended up defining the recorded sound of
jazz in that period must in large part have been a result of working in a
very confined space. Rudy was stuck with it, and had to make something of
it. It fit reality, though, because it was club music, made in small joints
where the front tables were right against the stage. It's how the audience
heard it and how the players heard it. With the major exception of pianos,
he gave back the sound of the players and the energy of the band, and no
player at the time expected to receive so much or would ask for more.
(Actually, since the nightclub pianos mostly sucked, that might be
That's all my musings. An actual fact that I got from an interview a while
back regarded the remasterings others were doing. He said it wasn't
necessarily right to take the two-track masters straight. He was still
thinking in terms of monaural final mixes, and the separation of elements
between tracks was made with that in mind. For stereo, he always mixed some
of one track into the other. Obviously, there was a lot he could do at that
stage, if he wished to.
Another recollection I have is that players appreciated the honesty of that
approach. I heard guys criticize the CTI discs for "messing with the sound,"
or what we might admire as creative studio interpretations. Of course the
guy at the controls for both was RVG.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Aaron Levinson
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2012 6:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] excellent 5-part interview with Rudy Van Gelder
I completely agree Tom. He's very careful to say he is there to capture the
sound in the room, not shape it's direction. Interestingly, I was talking
shop with with Joe Tarsia this week and he said virtually the same thing in
regard to Philly International and Gamble and Huff!
I find it illuminating that many of the finest engineers that ever lived
have a very defined and clear sense of what they did and what they did not
These titans are so good because they are extremely focused on one job and
doing that specific job to the Nth degree.
My hat is off to all of them.
Sent from my iPhone
On Feb 17, 2012, at 3:23 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> If you read carefully, he is saying a lot about his techniques and
methods, more than I've read in other interviews. He also clearly states
that he was less the "sonics decider" than people think -- that he did what
producers asked him to do.
> Marc Myers did his usual excellent job conducting the interview and tying
in interesting and informative imagery. Links to next part at the top of
> Van Gelder received a Grammy Trustees Award this year, it's worth watching
the short video of his acceptance message. I thought it was very classy, as
was this interview.