John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman


It was 1946 when Louis van Gelder decided to build a new home for his family in Hackensack, New Jersey. When he saw the blueprints, his son Rudy asked him to add a little thing. He wanted a control room with a double glass window to the living room. Also, the living room should be big, with a high ceiling.

Rudy was already busy recording local musicians for 78s. His father wanted to help his enthusiastic son and indulged him. The resulting studio is the birth place for one of the most famous jazz studios in the world. Rudy van Gelder recorded for Impulse!, Prestige, Verve, and Blue Note, among others. The studio moved to Englewood Cliffs in the same state. The original location doesn’t exist anymore, but the Englewood Cliffs is registered in the National Register of Historic Places, for its significance in the performing arts.

Reading the lists of recorded works here is like reading the Who’s Who of music of the age. Rudy van Gelder was well known as a genius with golden ears. Almost all of the recordings from Blue Note between 1953 and 1967 were from his studio. Not everyone though: notably Charles Mingus didn’t want to go anywhere near ‘RVG’, saying he changed the sound. His recordings are very coloured as a result.

Rudy died in 2016, leaving his studio to his assistant Mauren Sickler.

In 2008 a warehouse fire at the Universal Studios destroyed a hidden storage next to a fairground. The storage was leased to the Universal Music Group and it was said to contain mostly movies. It didn’t, as the New York Times reconstructed. The fire destroyed many master recordings, and not only of the UMG itself. Estimates run from 120000 to 175000 master recording having been lost in the blaze. Almost all of the Impulse! recording from Rudy van Gelder were destroyed, probably also this one.

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