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ARSCLIST  February 2012

ARSCLIST February 2012

Subject:

Re: excellent 5-part interview with Rudy Van Gelder

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 17:09:08 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (84 lines)

Hi Bob:

What you say matches what I was told, by NYC semi-competitors (Rudy charged less than a Manhattan 
room could charge, that's a big reason the "little guys" found him and stuck with him; he also had a 
business model, a one-man operation, that allowed him to charge less, not to mention the low cost of 
space across the bridge). Also told the same by musicians, they definitely liked the more laid-back 
setting out in the suburbs, and the Englewood Cliffs studio is a really beautiful building in and of 
itself, with details like the tan-colored cinderblocks.

What my ears tell me is that Rudy may have been precise and fussy, but he was not stepping on the 
musicians doing their job. He was doing his job to a level of professionalism that most of them 
understood, because they too were professionals. I think Rudy had what I'd call pride of ownership 
(and definitely competitive zeal within his craft) rather than ego-driven "wizard" image-making. His 
manner seems precise and intense, which probably comes off differently to different people (I 
laughed at his story about the flute player touching his microphone). In some ways you could say he 
was the East Coast "tonmeister" for the jazz genre in the 50's and 60's, for better or worse. I say 
that because once the records coming out of his place started to sell well, everyone wanted a 
similar mix and recording style on their sessions. The basic aesthetic of what Riverside was doing 
at Reeves and later Plaza Studios wasn't all that different. Everyone wanted hard-panned stereo in 
the early years, close-in mic placement and a mix that was "intimate" and detailed, some would say 
"in your face." I would say that Contemporary was doing similar things on the West Coast (less "in 
your face," but just as detailed), and definitely Pacific Records when they opened their studio, so 
the aesthetic became universal soon enough. I think it's a very different goal for the recording and 
mix compared to pop tunes of the same period (it's really the opposite of the Phil Spector 
aesthetic, for instance), and definitely different from 1960's rock techniques. Note that he didn't 
add isolation booths until the late 60's 8-track days. He was still live-mixing to 2-track as well 
as running a multi-track even in the early 70's, I say this from seeing and hearing actual 2-track 
session tapes. It's interesting that he calls his studio design "organic," which is a very over-used 
word today but fits the approach he was successful taking -- all the musicians in a room where they 
could see and hear each other, all playing together, doing complete takes (as the Mosaic reissues of 
Blue Note artists clearly show). By the mid-60's, this was a throwback to an earlier time, but still 
common in jazz recording, due to the improvisational nature of the music and the limited budgets to 
make jazz records requiring the speed and efficiency that you get from all-at-once recording. I 
think musicians always liked working that way.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bob Olhsson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2012 4:39 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] excellent 5-part interview with Rudy Van Gelder


> That is a wonderful article!
>
> A number of musicians have told me that most of his mystique was actually
> created by the musicians because they really enjoyed getting away from
> Manhattan to the relative privacy of Van Gelder's for a day to work on their
> art.
>
> In many cases their "day job" was playing advertising dates in Manhattan's
> leading studios where they'd constantly be bumping into clients and other
> "suits" who were important to their day to day livelihood. Rudy's was an
> enjoyable holiday from the world of ad agencies.
>
> Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
> Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
> Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!
> 615.562.4346 http://www.bobolhsson.com http://audiomastery.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
> Sent: Friday, February 17, 2012 2:24 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] excellent 5-part interview with Rudy Van Gelder
>
> http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/02/interview-rudy-van-gelder-part-1.html
>
> 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 each
> page.
>
> 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.
> 

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