Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy Van Gelder (born 2 November 1924, Jersey City, New Jersey) is an recording engineer and master audiophile.
Well known as one of the most important recording engineers in music history, Van Gelder is one of the legendary behind-the-scenes figures in jazz, recording several hundred jazz sessions, many are widely recognized as classics. Bringing an incredible clarity to jazz recordings .Rudy Van Gelder started recording artists such as Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley in the early 50’s, in the comfort of his parent’s living room. It wasn’t until 1959 that he opened his studio on Englewood Cliffs and along with Alfred Lion, changed the way Jazz was being recorded. In the fifty plus years that Rudy has been working 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.
Van Gelder started recording musicians in his parents’ 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. These days, Van Gelder is 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.”
Rudy Van Gelder established the standard for sonic excellence on a par with that of the many great and legendary musicians he recorded over the decades. He has certainly done that. And it’s a legacy that Blue Note is preserving. The label has established “The Rudy Van Gelder Series,” which consists of more than 200 classic Blue Note albums remastered by him. And Blue Note recently released “Blue Note Perfect Takes,” a collection of essential tracks that Mr. Van Gelder picked for their sonic and musical excellence; the collection also includes an interview with him on DVD.