18-05-06

RVG

I found this text in my inbox and thought passing it on to you. No more posting than probably monday May 22nd ... Enjoy the article! Lexman

 

 

 Jazz labels rely on engineer's bold touch


  By Dan Ouellette  2 hours, 55 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Billboard) - In jazz, the RVG brand has mighty clout and speaks multiple volumes on sonic purity.

It's no surprise then that Blue Note and Prestige are capitalizing on the RVG tag with a new series featuring remastered classic CDs.

The man behind the abbreviation is Rudy Van Gelder, the sound engineer who revolutionized the way jazz is recorded, beginning in 1954 in his parents' living room in Hackensack, N.J., and continuing in his own studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., from 1959 to the present. He recorded all the jazz greats who made first-class discs for all the important
in-the-day indies such as Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse, Verve and CTI.

"Rudy defined the way several generations expect to hear jazz," says Michael Cuscuna, director of catalog for Blue Note and the impetus behind the label's RVG Series. "He's the one who got closest to the way jazz sounds live at front-row center. Most engineers in the '50s were timid and moved the microphones away from the musicians. Rudy miked up
close, recorded with as much volume as possible to avoid hiss and got the power, clarity and individuality of all the players."

Adds freelance engineer Joe Ferla, who started recording in 1971 and has worked with a range of musicians from drummers Paul Motian and Bobby Previte to guitarists John Scofield and Charlie Hunter: "Rudy changed the way we perceive jazz recordings and the way engineers approach jazz."

Bassist Ron Carter, who recorded many of his own albums as well as hundreds of session dates at Van Gelder's studio, says, "Rudy not only set and maintained the standard of jazz recordings, but he also set the standard for recording the acoustic bass."

Blue Note's RVG Series, which started years ago, continues with February's release of more than a dozen gems including Dexter Gordon's "Dippin"' and Lee Morgan's "Tom Cat." Two more batches arrive September 12 and 26, including dates by Donald Byrd ("Off to the Races") and Horace Silver ("Doin' the Thing at the Village Gate").

Meanwhile, Prestige Now, an imprint of Concord Music Group, inaugurated its own RVG series in March with 10 masterworks, including Sonny Rollins' "Saxophone Colossus" and the Miles Davis Quintet's "Relaxin'."


Van Gelder, in an e-mail exchange, says that he remembers the sessions and the artists well, and that today he still "feels strongly that I am their messenger." More Prestige RVG remasters arrive June 13 and July 18, including discs by Etta Jones ("Don't Go to Strangers") and Oliver Nelson ("Screamin' the Blues").

Here's how the labels work with Van Gelder: They send him the masters that he originally recorded. "First I examine the tapes to see if they're playable," he explains. "Next step, I hook up a chain to do an analog transfer. Every tape is different, so I do a lot of listening."

When asked if he has any favorites in the upcoming Prestige series, Van Gelder at first says, "I can't have a favorite." Then he notes, "But anything with Miles Davis is OK with me. And Etta Jones is pure emotion on this album." As for the Blue Note series, he says, "They're all
great music. I love them all, but Horace Silver is something special."

Cuscuna says that when he first approached Van Gelder to revisit the masters, he was hesitant: "Rudy was reticent to look to the past. But then it kicked in how much more he could do with the new equipment and what he had learned. He saw it as a challenge and opportunity. He's given a new lease on life to some of these titles as Rudy brings the
music out of the tape."

Reuters/Billboard

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