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Rudy Van Gelder

Rudy Van Gelder is an NEA Jazz Master

Rudy Van Gelder started recording artists such as Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley in the early 50s, in the comfort of his parent’s living room. It wasn't until 1959 that he opened his studio in Englewood Cliffs and along with Alfred Lion, changed the way Jazz was being recorded. In his six-decade career, it is estimated that he has recorded, mixed, and mastered over 2000 albums not only for Blue Note but Verve Records, Impulse!, CTI, and many others.

Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion and Van Gelder first met when musician Gil Melle introduced them in 1953. Lion was impressed with the sonic clarity of Van Gelder's recordings, and he made sure that Van Gelder recorded most Blue Note sessions from 1953 to 1967. The signature “Blue Note Sound” is really a culmination of Lion's devotion to hard bop jazz, Van Gelder's meticulous pursuit of accurately capturing that improvisatory music, and the remarkable playing of the musicians on those early sessions at the Hackensack home studio. In his later career, Van Gelder operated from his state-of-the-art digital facility in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., where he worked with re-issue producer Michael Cuscuna on the RVG Series.

Van Gelder started recording musicians in his parent's living room in Hackensack as a hobby. Overwhelming demand from musicians and producers forced him to quit his day job as an optometrist and record music full-time. Before he started making his own records, Van Gelder simply wanted to re-create the audio experience of live music, his love for jazz and hearing it played back accurately led him to audiophile equipment stores.

“When I first started, I was interested in improving the quality of the playback equipment I had,” Van Gelder explains. “I never was really happy with what I heard. I always assumed the records made by the big companies sounded better than what I could reproduce. So that's how I got interested in the process. I acquired everything I could to play back audio: speakers, turntables, amplifiers.“When I started making records, there was no quality recording equipment available to me,” he continues. “I had to build my own mixer."

Van Gelder was also an enthusiastic supporter of digital audio and an avid learner of new gear and software. “I believe today's equipment is fantastic,” he says. “I wouldn't want to face a session without the editing capabilities of digital. There are still maintenance and reliability issues. Tech support helps. From my viewpoint, the essential difference between analog and digital is that analog does not like to be copied,” Van Gelder continues. “After the original is recorded, edited, and mixed, then what? You need a digital delivery medium. In that sense, the final product can be much higher quality than in the '70s.”

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Liner Notes

CTI Acid Jazz Grooves by Various Artists

Read "CTI Acid Jazz Grooves by Various Artists" reviewed by Arnaldo DeSouteiro


The CD you are holding in your hands is a very special compilation. It's the celebration of CTI as one of the most “sampled" labels on Earth! For the past ten years, many CTI tracks have been cut up, sampled, scratched and looped to create new songs for a new audience. Many of the selections on this album (all of them produced by Creed Taylor and engineered by Rudy Van Gelder) represented the basic inspiration and major influence in the ...

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Play This!

The Van Gelder Sound: A Legacy of Jazz Recordings

Read "The Van Gelder Sound: A Legacy of Jazz Recordings" reviewed by Brian Eaton


Rudy Van Gelder (a.k.a. RVG) was one of the most influential recording engineers in jazz. Largely self-taught, he was a true industry pioneer as one of the first well-known examples of an engineer operating a home recording studio and even constructing his own custom-built audio mixer in the early years. As an innovator and perfectionist, he was always looking to improve the sound of his recordings, not just as a technician but as an artist with his techniques. Yet, he ...

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Profile

The Giant Legacy of Rudy Van Gelder

Read "The Giant Legacy of Rudy Van Gelder" reviewed by Greg Simmons


Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder died at home of natural causes on August 25th at the age of 91. His legacy--and it's a big one--is the countless recordings he made during modern jazz's greatest period of innovation. Almost any jazz musician of note who was making records--especially if they were working on the east coast--was captured at some point with Van Gelder at the controls. Be-boppers, hard-boppers, post-boppers, soul jazz, free jazz, fusion--pick a sub category. If you want to ...

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Interview

Rudy Van Gelder

Read "Rudy Van Gelder" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan


This interview was originally published in June 1999.For many decades now, the name Rudy Van Gelder has been synonymous with recorded jazz music. The number of sessions he's done over the years easily numbers in the tens of thousands. He's been actively involved in the recording work of such quintessential jazz labels as Prestige, Impulse, Verve, CTI, and of course, Blue Note. In more recent times, Van Gelder has cut sessions for Highnote, Milestone, Reservoir, Venus, and N2K, ...

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From the Inside Out

Blue Note and Recording Master Re-Present RVG's Heritage

Read "Blue Note and Recording Master Re-Present RVG's Heritage" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki


If you're a jazz fan--not even a serious jazz fan but just casual, just about any type of fan of jazz at all--there's a good chance that you own some of Rudy Van Gelder's best work. Working with such legendary entrepreneurs / producers as Alfred Lion (Blue Note), Creed Taylor (Verve, A&M, CTI) and Bob Weinstock (Prestige), Rudy Van Gelder served as recording engineer for some of the greatest jazz records ever made. His work is as respected ...

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Interview

Richard Cook, Author Of "Blue Note Records: The Biography"

Read "Richard Cook, Author Of "Blue Note Records: The Biography"" reviewed by Victor L. Schermer


Richard Cook is an Englishman who resides in West London. He is the author of the recently-published Blue Note Records: The Biography and the co-author of The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD. Although he frequently comes to New York, it was necessary for practical reasons to conduct the interview via email correspondence. As one more sign of his artistry with words, Cook provided such a finely crafted response to my questions, that the interview reads like an 'in person' ...

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Performance / Tour

Introducing 'Live From Van Gelder Studio,' A Groundbreaking Virtual Music Series Staged From Legendary Rudy Van Gelder Studio: The Room Where Jazz Happened

Introducing 'Live From Van Gelder Studio,' A Groundbreaking Virtual Music Series  Staged From Legendary Rudy Van Gelder Studio: The Room Where Jazz Happened

Source: DL Media

Van Gelder Studio, the legendary recording studio home to hundreds of jazz icons from John Coltrane to Herbie Hancock, has announced the launch of “Live from Van Gelder Studio," a new virtual music series that will stream live from VanGelder.live. The series will debut on Saturday, November 14th at 9PM EST and will feature an all-star quartet who will pay tribute to jazz great Hank Mobley, whose most beloved recordings turn 60 this year. Performers include bassist Ron Carter, tenor ...

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Recording

Jimmy Cobb Historic Release Featuring Roy Hargrove - Remembering U - Final Session By Rudy Van Gelder!

Jimmy Cobb Historic Release Featuring Roy Hargrove - Remembering U - Final Session By Rudy Van Gelder!

Source: Scott Thompson Public Relations

Legendary Drummer Jimmy Cobb Still Swinging After All These Years! Remembering U features a guest appearance by the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove and is the final session by legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Album Release Party November 25th at Dizzy's Club A consummate accompanist, unerring timekeeper, outstanding soloist and dynamic leader in his own right, revered drummer Jimmy Cobb showcases his inimitable touch on ballads and his irrepressibly swinging ride cymbal pulse on Remembering U. Accompanied by his working trio ...

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Obituary

Rudy Van Gelder (1924-2016)

Rudy Van Gelder (1924-2016)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Rudy Van Gelder, a New Jersey optometrist who in the late 1940s extended his passion for ocular precision to professional recording and wound up becoming one of jazz's finest and most enigmatic studio engineers, died on Aug. 25. He was 91. When Rudy started recording at his parents Hackensack, N.J., home (above), he knew virtually nothing about jazz. And throughout his career, he never developed much of a passion for it, despite being an ear-witness to some of jazz greatest ...

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Obituary

Rudy Van Gelder, 1924-2016

Rudy Van Gelder, 1924-2016

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

Rudy Van Gelder, who recorded thousands of albums by musicians including some of the most important in jazz, died today at 91. As a young man, Van Gelder began recording in a room in his parents’ house in Teaneck, New Jersey. Among his recordings were early albums by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. He was a practicing optometrist, but he said in recent years that when he first found himself in a recording studio, he had a feeling that “this ...

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Interview

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 5)

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 5)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Before I left Rudy Van Gelder's historic recording studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist asking a favor. Rudy's eyebrows went up in agreeable arches. Out came my copy of Horace Silver's Horace-Scope, one of my favorite Blue Note albums. Though it was recorded in Hackensack, N.J., in 1960, I still wanted to see the legendary engineer listening to his original and remastered handiwork. Rudy fiddled with the massive console in his control room—hitting buttons ...

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Interview

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 4)

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 4)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

For much of this week, JazzWax readers have been sending emails urging me to ask engineer Rudy Van Gelder about specific sessions he recorded for Blue Note, Prestige and other labels. All suggestions were wonderful. The problem is Rudydoesn't think back on these sessions the way we do. We sit back and enjoy the music. Rudy was on the front lines making sure all was captured perfectly. Rudy remembers dial levels, sound levels and microphones. [Photo of Rudy Van Gelder by ...

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Interview

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 3)

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 3)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

If you're not a jazz musician or a producer over age 70, then you are probably seeing the exterior of Rudy Van Gelder's recording studio at 25 Prospect Ave. in Hackensack, N.J., for the very first time (above). The studio where Rudy engineered hundreds of jazz sessions between 1946 and 1959 was located in his parents' home, which has since been demolished. The studio was in the taller, center section of the Pueblo-modernist stucco residence. [Photo by Rudy Van Gelder, ...

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Interview

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 2)

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 2)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

A week before I drove out to Rudy Van Gelder's Englewood Cliffs, N.J., studio to interview him for the Wall Street Journal (go here), I spoke to Creed Taylor. The famed producer who recorded his Impulse, Verve, A&M and CTI recordings at Rudy's studio had some sage advice: “Don't wear wet shoes into the studio, and don't ask questions about his recording techniques." Got it. The day of the interview, it was pouring. So before I left,I grabbed a pair ...

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Interview

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 1)

Interview: Rudy Van Gelder (Part 1)

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

Rudy Van Gelder's name appears on more jazz albums than any other engineer, producer or musician. In all Rudy has recorded thousands of records for Blue Note, Prestige,Impulse, Verve, A&B, CTI and other labels—which means he has been personally responsible for a sizable chunk of post-war jazz history. A large percentage of these historic jazz albums were recorded first at Rudy's parents' home in Hackensack, N.J., (1947-1959) and then at his studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (1959-present). [Photo of Rudy ...

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Award / Grant

Rudy Van Gelder Named 2009 NEA Jazz Master

Rudy Van Gelder Named 2009 NEA Jazz Master

Source: All About Jazz


"The recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder...helped to define the sound of LP-era jazz." —Richard Brody, The New Yorker

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