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The Rudy Van Gelder Thread
Old 5th March 2018
  #1
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🎧 10 years
The Rudy Van Gelder Thread

Hi, I want to get more infos about the mysterious Rudy Van Gelder, I really love the sounds of those early jazz record he did.
I know he was very passionate about sounds and music, he came up with excellant records made in his parents house.

I know there's not much infos about the guy on the web, but If people have something to share about the guy. Stories, gear, setup, instruments, etc.

Thank you all!
Attached Thumbnails
The Rudy Van Gelder Thread-082616-rvg-600.jpg  
Old 5th March 2018
  #2
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Don’t have any info other than he ran a “home studio”, lol. The guy was a chameleon. This thread deserves a bump though!
Old 5th March 2018
  #3
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🎧 15 years
He was very secretive about mics and placement. Photos from his studio are all said to be staged and NOT how he would set them up for actual sessions. Tape Op did a great feature on him Here.
Old 5th March 2018
  #4
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This was just posted on another forum this morning... good timing, which is what Music is all about!

Inside the Van Gelder studio where classic jazz albums were recorded
Old 6th March 2018
  #5
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🎧 10 years
I've read the sonicscoop article which I know have upset a few people. The author writes about Tom Dowd and "suit an tie engineer" being better and more "hi-fi than RVG. You can tell that those recording are not made in Capitol, but more in a tight space, but they do have a great vibe, good tones and really cary the music well. I think that's the first goal.
Old 6th March 2018
  #6
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A guy i've worked with recorded with Rudy in the 80s and claims he'd swap mic capsules into other microphone bodies to keep people unsure about what he was actually using.

Seems kinda bonkers but hey, who knows.
Old 6th March 2018
  #7
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I really wish he passed down his recording expertise...

Chris
Old 6th March 2018 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 ➡️
I really wish he passed down his recording expertise...

Chris
He did, to the woman he left the studio to.
Old 6th March 2018
  #9
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Thanks Tony, one more reason to start learning more about him (than what I already knew!). Chris
Old 8th June 2021
  #10
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Van Gelder Studio lives!

https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/reco...5-c882e3b7db82

and in good hands, too! Maureen is the perfect person to honor his legacy!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
iFi audio
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laperlestudio ➡️
Hi, I want to get more infos about the mysterious Rudy Van Gelder, I really love the sounds of those early jazz record he did.
I know he was very passionate about sounds and music, he came up with excellant records made in his parents house.

I know there's not much infos about the guy on the web, but If people have something to share about the guy. Stories, gear, setup, instruments, etc.

Thank you all!
Love, love, love the Blue Note era. Rudy was a genius, great to find a thread about him! I’ve rewatched this movie countless times and it’s great to hear all the stories about Rudy, his methods, and the simple background behind such rich, complex works. Enjoy! Let me know what you think
https://bluenoterecords-film.com/en/
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iFi audio ➡️
Love, love, love the Blue Note era. Rudy was a genius, great to find a thread about him! I’ve rewatched this movie countless times and it’s great to hear all the stories about Rudy, his methods, and the simple background behind such rich, complex works. Enjoy! Let me know what you think
https://bluenoterecords-film.com/en/
Thanks for that! Looks like a winner. I wrote to my local theater to see if they can get it in. They're playing Summer of Soul now, another great film music documentary.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson ➡️
Thanks for that! Looks like a winner. I wrote to my local theater to see if they can get it in. They're playing Summer of Soul now, another great film music documentary.
Hey no prob! You think there'd be Jazz fans in the area? Otherwise you may have to stream online/alone in that theater. Loads of youtube docs and clips as well.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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I love the RVG discs I’ve been exposed to, which is many...

I just don’t love the piano sound. But when I’ve asked my jazz pianist friends for their fav piano sounds, they always include RVG. So I’m learning.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya ➡️
I love the RVG discs I’ve been exposed to, which is many...

I just don’t love the piano sound. But when I’ve asked my jazz pianist friends for their fav piano sounds, they always include RVG. So I’m learning.
I'm curious what you don't like about the piano sounds he got.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson ➡️
I'm curious what you don't like about the piano sounds he got.
They just don’t sound like the concert grand pianos they were recorded on. They are severely bandwidth limited and midrange focused, which definitely gets the listener all of the notes the pianist is playing but not much of the dynamic range, sparkle, or weight of those instruments. It works better on some records and with some pianists than others, like it’s a nice effected sound on Joe Henderson’s ‘Page One’, but as soon as the pianist starts playing with power or using the entire range of the instrument it kind of falls apart for me.

I would say, for a comparison of mono piano sounds from that period, I’m much more Impressed by what Fred Plaut achieved on ‘Kind of Blue’, or say the piano sound on Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’. I know there are practical reasons for why RVG recorded the way he did, with the Schoeps pointing into the casing holes for isolation from drums and horns, but I just don’t love that sound. But I know it’s become essentially “the sound” of old recorded jazz piano, and a lot of people really like it, and I totally respect that. Just personally much more enamored with the aforementioned Columbia sounds, and with what later engineers like Al Schmitt could accomplish in stereo.

Added some photos showing the mic placement at the Englewood Cliffs studio, early 60s I think.
Attached Thumbnails
The Rudy Van Gelder Thread-fb589c95-c1f5-407c-ba20-7cb72fd84fc3.jpeg   The Rudy Van Gelder Thread-dbfc277a-a1ad-47d0-b599-6b7314c61923.jpg  
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Interesting. I don't disagree but it has never bothered me before...

By the way, it is rumored that Rudy would use fake microphone positions for photographs, to keep his secrets. But the pix are too small on GearSpace so I can't even see the mics on the piano...
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson ➡️
By the way, it is rumored that Rudy would use fake microphone positions for photographs, to keep his secrets. But the pix are too small on GearSpace so I can't even see the mics on the piano...
Sounds exhausting!

If you open the pictures in a new window/tab, it should give a bigger image.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson ➡️
Interesting. I don't disagree but it has never bothered me before...

By the way, it is rumored that Rudy would use fake microphone positions for photographs, to keep his secrets. But the pix are too small on GearSpace so I can't even see the mics on the piano...
Thanks for the tip! They open right up full screen. I feel dumb to not realize that.

But I think those two shots may have been staged for the camera, if urban myth is true. I'm not certain, but it looks staged, not during recording.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya ➡️
They just don’t sound like the concert grand pianos they were recorded on. They are severely bandwidth limited and midrange focused, which definitely gets the listener all of the notes the pianist is playing but not much of the dynamic range, sparkle, or weight of those instruments. It works better on some records and with some pianists than others, like it’s a nice effected sound on Joe Henderson’s ‘Page One’, but as soon as the pianist starts playing with power or using the entire range of the instrument it kind of falls apart for me.

I would say, for a comparison of mono piano sounds from that period, I’m much more Impressed by what Fred Plaut achieved on ‘Kind of Blue’, or say the piano sound on Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’. I know there are practical reasons for why RVG recorded the way he did, with the Schoeps pointing into the casing holes for isolation from drums and horns, but I just don’t love that sound. But I know it’s become essentially “the sound” of old recorded jazz piano, and a lot of people really like it, and I totally respect that. Just personally much more enamored with the aforementioned Columbia sounds, and with what later engineers like Al Schmitt could accomplish in stereo.

Added some photos showing the mic placement at the Englewood Cliffs studio, early 60s I think.
Well, Kind of Blue had a better piano, the same Steinway D that was a favorite of Glenn Gould's, not to mention it had the better room.

I think his piano sound varied from session to session, and obviously, for Trane, it wouldn't be out front as it was for say Herbie's Maiden Voyage or Invention and Dimensions recordings. For Trane, I'm sure he rode the fader for the piano at times - like on the Johnny Hartman and Ballads record with all the rubato piano intros.

Also it seems, his piano sound as well as the general sound quality of the sessions were generally better the more high profile the session was. For example, the Coltrane and Duke Ellington record sounds gorgeous, including the piano, especially on In a Sentimental Mood.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
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Part of the reason the piano sounds are a bit constricted is that the piano is also being used as a sounding board for the horn, so the microphone placement is a compromise of optimizing for one vs. the other. You'll notice the piano tone on van Gelder recordings differs a lot between recordings of pieces that are about the piano and pieces that are about the horns.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
Part of the reason the piano sounds are a bit constricted is that the piano is also being used as a sounding board for the horn, so the microphone placement is a compromise of optimizing for one vs. the other. You'll notice the piano tone on van Gelder recordings differs a lot between recordings of pieces that are about the piano and pieces that are about the horns.
--scott
You're talking about the lid being up? I don't know if that was ever for the purpose of sound reflection/refraction as much as it would have been for the pianist to be able to hear the performance better, or RVG wanting the acoustical properties of the lid being open.

One thing you have to take into account is that the piano sound of every session at either the Hackensack or Englewood Cliffs studio was the result of how each of the house piano sounded at the respective studios, in addition to whatever techniques RVG employed - so in part any critique of the sound is one of the actual piano being used as much as anything else. Which one must say objectively the Englewood Cliffs' piano was a much better instrument.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElmoHope ➡️
You're talking about the lid being up? I don't know if that was ever for the purpose of sound reflection/refraction as much as it would have been for the pianist to be able to hear the performance better, or RVG wanting the acoustical properties of the lid being open.
Lid is up, horn is pointed into the piano. Strings resonate sympathetically with the horn and create a thicker and deeper horn sound.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElmoHope ➡️
You're talking about the lid being up? I don't know if that was ever for the purpose of sound reflection/refraction as much as it would have been for the pianist to be able to hear the performance better, or RVG wanting the acoustical properties of the lid being open.

One thing you have to take into account is that the piano sound of every session at either the Hackensack or Englewood Cliffs studio was the result of how each of the house piano sounded at the respective studios, in addition to whatever techniques RVG employed - so in part any critique of the sound is one of the actual piano being used as much as anything else. Which one must say objectively the Englewood Cliffs' piano was a much better instrument.
It's much more than lid up or down. a piano can be mic'd in a million ways, and leakage from other instruments affects how he would do it.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
Lid is up, horn is pointed into the piano. Strings resonate sympathetically with the horn and create a thicker and deeper horn sound.
--scott
RVG's had literally hundreds of sessions with myriad configurations.

I don't see how you can surmise the totality of RVG's piano recording technique based on one photo.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElmoHope ➡️
RVG's had literally hundreds of sessions with myriad configurations.

I don't see how you can surmise the totality of RVG's piano recording technique based on one photo.
I wouldn't trust any photos.  However, this is a technique which gets a sound that is very close to the sound you hear on many of his recordings, and it is a technique which would explain some of the issues with the piano sound on some of them. It is certainly not something used on all recordings but it's something he clearly liked using a lot in the earlier era (and clearly stopped using later on by the sound).
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
I wouldn't trust any photos.  However, this is a technique which gets a sound that is very close to the sound you hear on many of his recordings, and it is a technique which would explain some of the issues with the piano sound on some of them. It is certainly not something used on all recordings but it's something he clearly liked using a lot in the earlier era (and clearly stopped using later on by the sound).
--scott
For most of his earlier recordings (the ones at Hackensack, pre-1959, and especially the sessions for Prestige Records) for me, the piano sound is sub-optimal, regardless of whatever technique he might have used, I blame the crappy piano. I guarantee you that if RVG had the KOB piano that Bill Evans played that you seem so enamored of its sound (the same one Glenn Gould used for his iconic 1955 Goldberg Variations recording), the sound of the piano during that period would have been significantly better.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #28
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Here are some of the differences in how the piano sounded from Hackensack and Englewood Cliffs with the same pianist. It gives you a sense of the tone of the piano at each studio. To me, the Englewood Cliffs piano had that "vibe" that's synonymous with RVG.

Horace Silver:
Hackensack (1955)


Englewood Cliffs (1964)


Sonny Clark:
Hackensack (1957)


Englewood Cliffs (1961)
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #29
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElmoHope ➡️
(...) the same one Glenn Gould used for his iconic 1955 Goldberg Variations recording (...)
do you have a source for this? not that i'm questioning iyour comment per se but i'm just reading this...

"A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano" (Katie Haffner)

...which is a lot of fun but possibly puts focus on the history of the maestro's pianos maybe from a somewhat different point of view than those of a jazz enthusiast.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
do you have a source for this? not that i'm questioning iyour comment per se but i'm just reading this...

"A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano" (Katie Haffner)

...which is a lot of fun but possibly puts focus on the history of the maestro's pianos maybe from a somewhat different point of view than those of a jazz enthusiast.

I've read it from various sources, either about Gould or Miles. I can't remember exactly where first, it might have been the Ashley Kahn book on the making of Kind of Blue.

It kinda became common knowledge after Cinesamples released their "Piano in Blue" sample instrument where they told of the connection in their marketing.
Quote:
We were provided a unique opportunity to preserve an important piece of musical history in its final days. Word had come to us that the historic Clinton Recording Studios in midtown Manhattan was forever closing its doors, destined to be transformed into a modern condominium complex.

One of the many treasures contained therein was this particular Steinway Model D Concert Grand which used to live in the Columbia Records 30th Street Studios. The CBS 30th Street Studio, “The Church” was perhaps the most influential recording studio of the 50’s and 60’s producing dozens of legendary albums in various genres.

Of those recordings this piano played a critical role in two albums which are still considered among the finest recordings of all time. First being the original Glenn Gould “Goldberg Variations,” the most critically received classical album of all time. Four years later came Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” which forever altered music.


https://cinesamples.com/product/piano-in-blue
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