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Rudy Van Gelder and secrecy
Old 26th July 2022 | Show parent
Lives for gear
🎧 5 years
Originally Posted by kneePlusUltra ➡️
Since there was a column in the New York Times this weekend about Van Gelder's studio, I thought it might be a good time to clarify one of stories associated with Rudy Van Gelder.

I was hired by Blue Note records as a photographer for many, many recording projects over the past 35 years, but I only went out to Rudy's on about half a dozen occasions. Rudy was a photographer too and he always looked at the lenses I had on my cameras to see how much of his studio or equipment I was including in my frames. As you all know, he was extremely secretive about what he was doing and so I asked him what part of the control room I could include in my photographs. We became quite friendly and then I said to him, people are always trying to figure out how you mic certain instruments, so when I photograph this group (I don't remember who) why don't you set up some dummy mics that you would NEVER use on those particular players and I will include them in the photos. Rudy just LOVED the idea and so that's what we did, but it was my idea out of respect for him and the fact that I knew how private he was about the techniques that he had spent a lifetime developing. He may have set up dummy mics on other occasions but I know he did it once with me. I am including a portrait of Rudy I did for a photography book on Jazz in 2005. He was the only non-musician in the book of 175 portraits.
Just in case you doubt the story and who I am
What year did this 'dummy mic' session take place?
Old 26th July 2022 | Show parent
Gear Head
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by dirker ➡️
This assumption that recording sessions in days past were like ones today, where random label people & photographers would just show up and hang around, is just not accurate. Professional photographers were paid well, and hired/scheduled well in advance. Often photo shoots were like video shoots today - pretend sessions for the cameras, not an interruption of actual recording. They might take place before or after sessions, or on completely separate days. But, especially in one-studio operations like Rudy's, there would rarely be any extra people allowed when serious recording was meant to be taking place. This was well before the era of rock stars treating sessions like parties that the producer & engineer had to tolerate.
And it's been noted in many places that Rudy preferred a dim/dark studio, which would not have yielded candid photos that are so bright while also having depth of field and lack of motion blur.
There are stories of Alfred getting upset that Francis was "clicking on the tape" (paraphrasing), but I agree with you, I would guess that most of the amazing photos Wolff took were between takes (in many photos it's clear the musicians are listening to playback after a take) or perhaps at the beginning or end of the session.
Old 27th July 2022 | Show parent
Registered User
Originally Posted by M50k ➡️
What year did this 'dummy mic' session take place?
In the 1990s, but I don't recall the date, and I wouldn't reveal the session either because that was my agreement with Rudy. BTW Rudy was trilled that the mic cables he put up were only plugged into the mics and not the board!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
Lives for gear
🎧 10 years
This recent RVG/Blue Note discussion might interest fans of the label:
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