February Music et al

February Music et al

Gil Evans

February Music et al


In February 1961: Gil Evans’s “Out of the Cool” released. Recorded at Van Gelder Studio. The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested “Core Collection” calling it “Evans’ masterpiece under his own name and one of the best examples of jazz orchestration since the early Ellington bands.”


February Music et al

Bob Dylan


In February 1963: Columbia staff photographer Don Hunstein photographed Dylan and Suze Rotolo, together again after seven months’ separation, for the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Hunstein recalled: “We went down to Dylan’s place on Fourth Street, just off Sixth Avenue, right in the heart of the Village. It was winter, dirty snow on the ground . . . Well, I can’t tell you why I did it, but I said, Just walk up and down the street. There wasn’t very much thought to it. It was late afternoon you can tell that the sun was low behind them. It must have been pretty uncomfortable, out there in the slush.” (see Apr 12; photo, see May 27)


February Music et al

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane


In February 1963: Duke Ellington (64 years old) and John Coltrane (37 years old) released Duke Ellington & John Coltrane.  In a Sentimental Mood, written by Ellington in 1936 as an instrumental and later given lyrics was one of the songs done on the album The song had been theme song for at least nine radio shows; included in eight movie soundtracks; and two Broadway shows.


February Music et al

Jimi Hendrix


In February 1964: won first prize in an Apollo Theater amateur contest.  First prize was twenty-five dollars. (see March 1964)


February Music et al

LSD/Owsley Stanley

February Music et al


In February 1965: Owsley Bear Stanley first succeeded in synthesizing crystalline LSD. Earliest distribution was March 1965. (see Feb 21)


February Music et al

Ken Kesey


In February 1966: newspapers began reporting that Ken Kesey was not dead but in Mexico.  (2008 NYT article) (see Feb 5)


February Music et al

A Love Supreme


In February 1965: John Coltrane released A Love Supreme album. Recorded at Van Gelder Studios.


February Music et al

News Music


In February 1965: the Impressions released People Get Ready, a Curtis Mayfield composition. (see Mar 25)


February Music et al

The Beatles  & Monterey Pop


February Peace Love Activism


In February 1967, organizers asked the Beatles to contribute a drawing to the upcoming Monterey International Pop Festival The Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor. Paul McCartney was on the Board of Governors for the Festival and he insisted that the relatively unknown Jimi Hendrix appear at the show. The Beatles had stopped touring, so they did not want to appear at the festival. Instead, the Art Director for the Festival, Tom Wilkes, asked Derek Taylor if the Beatles could contribute something for the official festival program. The Beatles created an original illustration with felt marker, colored pencil and ink which said “Peace to Monterey” at the top. The Beatles were busy working on their landmark album, Sgt. Pepper, at the time, so the drawing is “from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The message on the drawing continues: “Loving You, it happened in Monterey a long time ago.” In classic Beatles humor, the drawing is signed “Sincerely, John, Paul, George and Harold.”


FFebruary Music et al

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February Peace Love Activism

February Peace Love Activism

Feminism

New York Shirtwaist Strike

February Peace Love Activism


In February 1910: the New York Shirtwaist Strike ended. The settlement  improved workers’ wages, working conditions, and hours, but did not provide union recognition. A number of companies, including the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, refused to sign the agreement. But even so, the strike won a number of important gains. It encouraged workers in the industry to take action to improve their conditions, brought public attention to the sweatshop conditions. (next Feminism, see December 1910)

UNITE

February Peace Love Activism


In February 1995: the General Executive Boards of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America voted unanimously to merge.  The new union, named the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), was led by former ILGWU President Jay Mazur. In 1995, UNITE had a membership of about 250,000 in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. (Revolvy article) (next Feminism  June 26, 1996)

February Peace Love Activism

February Music et al

Gil Evans

In February 1961: Gil Evans’s “Out of the Cool” released. Recorded at Van Gelder Studio. The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested “Core Collection” calling it “Evans’ masterpiece under his own name and one of the best examples of jazz orchestration since the early Ellington bands.”

Bob Dylan

In February 1963: Columbia staff photographer Don Hunstein photographed Dylan and Suze Rotolo, together again after seven months’ separation, for the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Hunstein recalled: “We went down to Dylan’s place on Fourth Street, just off Sixth Avenue, right in the heart of the Village. It was winter, dirty snow on the ground . . . Well, I can’t tell you why I did it, but I said, Just walk up and down the street. There wasn’t very much thought to it. It was late afternoon you can tell that the sun was low behind them. It must have been pretty uncomfortable, out there in the slush.” (see Apr 12; photo, see May 27)

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

In February 1963: Duke Ellington (64 years old) and John Coltrane (37 years old) released Duke Ellington & John Coltrane.  In a Sentimental Mood, written by Ellington in 1936 as an instrumental and later given lyrics was one of the songs done on the album The song had been theme song for at least nine radio shows; included in eight movie soundtracks; and two Broadway shows.


Jimi Hendrix

In February 1964: won first prize in an Apollo Theater amateur contest. (see March 1964)


LSD/Owsley Stanley

In February 1965: Owsley Bear Stanley first succeeded in synthesizing crystalline LSD. Earliest distribution was March 1965. (see Feb 21)


Ken Kesey

In February 1966: newspapers begin reporting that Ken Kesey was not dead but in Mexico. (see Feb 5)


A Love Supreme

In February 1965: John Coltrane released A Love Supreme album. Recorded at Van Gelder Studios.


News Music

In February 1965: the Impressions released People Get Ready, a Curtis Mayfield composition. (see Mar 25)


The Beatles  & Monterey Pop

February Peace Love Activism

In February 1967, organizers asked the Beatles to contribute a drawing to the upcoming Monterey International Pop Festival The Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor. Paul McCartney was on the Board of Governors for the Festival and he insisted that the relatively unknown Jimi Hendrix appear at the show.


The Beatles had stopped touring, so they did not want to appear at the festival. Instead, the Art Director for the Festival, Tom Wilkes, asked Derek Taylor if the Beatles could contribute something for the official festival program. The Beatles created an original illustration with felt marker, colored pencil and ink which said “Peace to Monterey” at the top.


The Beatles were busy working on their landmark album, Sgt. Pepper, at the time, so the drawing is “from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The message on the drawing continues: “Loving You, it happened in Monterey a long time ago.”


In classic Beatles humor, the drawing is signed “Sincerely, John, Paul, George and Harold.”

February Peace Love Activism

Vietnam

Cambodia

In February, 1967: 25,000 US troops sent to Cambodian border. (see Feb 8 – 10)

Operation Menu

In February, 1969: in spite of government restrictions, President Nixon authorized the covert Operation Menu, bombing of North Vietnamese and Vietcong bases within Cambodia. Over the following four years, U.S. forces will drop more than a half million tons of bombs on Cambodia. (Third World Traveler article) (see Feb 13)


February Peace Love Activism

BLACK HISTORY

Southern Poverty Law Centre

In February 1987: with the support of Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin at the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), Beulah Mae Donald, the mother of slain Michael Donald sued the United Klans of America. An all-white jury found the Klan responsible for the lynching of Michael Donald and ordered it to pay 7 million dollars. This resulted the Klan having to hand over all its assets including its national headquarters in Tuscaloosa. (Black History, see February 10, 1989; Donald, see June 6, 1997)


Cold cases

In February 2006; the FBI launched its review of unsolved civil rights-era murders, many of which were believed committed by Klansmen. (BH, see May 21, 2006; Cold Cases, see October 7, 2008)


February Peace Love Activism

Nuclear/Chemical News

ICAN

February Peace Love Activism


In February 2014:  146 States and more than a hundred civil society campaigners attended the Nayarit Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons [ICAN] told participants “the claim by some states that they continue to need these weapons to deter their adversaries has been exposed by the evidence presented at this conference…as a reckless and unsanctionable gamble with our future.” At the conclusion of the conference, Mexico called for the start of a diplomatic process to negotiate a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons. (Nuclear, see Feb 18; ICAN, see Oct 26)


February Peace Love Activism
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Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

 Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder


The genesis for this site began with a request. I was training to be a docent at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and the group leader asked if anyone was interested in doing a presentation on protest music of the 1960s.


Hubris overflowing, I confidently volunteered. 


As I began to gather information, I quickly found myself spiraling down the proverbial rabbit hole. Not only did I “discover” that protest music had been around long before the 60s, but that it was still around.


The next thing I discovered was that to understand protest music, we have to place it in context. What were times in which the artist wrote the lyrics?


Soon, that expansion led to another realization: that as traditional as protest music, other art forms also have had their revolutions.

 Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Rudy Van Gelder

According to Steve Huey’s bio of Rudy Van Gelder at the All Music site, “Rudy Van Gelder was, quite simply, the greatest recording engineer in jazz history. He was responsible for just about every session on the Blue Note label from 1953 to 1967 (among thousands of others), encompassing some of jazz’s most groundbreaking and enduring classics.”

Hackensack, NJ

 Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder


Living in northern NJ, I was surprised to find that part of that musical revolution happened in my own back yard.


During the counter-cultural decade, jazz musicians were also experimenting with their music and that experimentation coincided with technological advances to record with a quality heretofore unavailable.


Rudy Van Gelder was born on November 2, 1924 in Jersey City. He trained as an optometrist, but always loved sound and had developed an interest as a youth in microphones and electronics. 


While he was still a practicing optometrist his parents built a home in Hackensack, NJ home. He asked if the house could include a recording studio.


They said yes and he recorded there until the complete of Van Gelder Studios in July 1959. There were over 367 recording sessions in Hackensack alone.


Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Jazz

Van Gelder was extremely attentive to the recording process, some might say to a fault. And jazz was his domain. According to a 2012 article in JazzWax by Benny Goldson, “Rudy’s many accomplishments and contributions include inventing techniques for capturing sound naturally in an age when most recording equipment wasn’t up to the job, the creative placement of microphones, the early use of magnetic recording tape, a recording process that wasn’t easily duplicated by other engineers, and turning his name into a brand that has been synonymous with jazz itself ever since.”


And Van Gelder’s answer to Goldson’s first question may be all we need to know: “Some people think I’m a producer. I’m not. I’m a recording engineer. I don’t hire the musicians nor do I come up with concepts for albums or how well musicians are playing. I’m there to capture the music at the time it’s being created. This requires me to concentrate on the technical aspects of the recordings, which means the equipment and how the finished product is going to sound.”

Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Englewood Cliffs, NJ

 Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

After those years of part-time recording, Van Gelder decided to become a full time audio engineer in 1959. He constructed the now famous Van Gelder Studios (also his home):  445 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.


The Usonian movement in architecture inspired Van Gelder’s vision of the studio. Both utilitarian (simple building materials) and affordable (keep in mind that Van Gelder was still a practicing optometrist to make ends meet). Frank Lloyd Wright was a proponent of the Usonian approach and Van Gelder found David Henken, also a proponent of the vision, to design the building. 


Van Gelder, in his way, described it simply as, “The five walls allow the sound to move up into the rafters and back down without being trapped or muffled.”


In 2001, Ira Gitler wrote in a Jazz Time article: I opened my notes to The Space Book by Booker Ervin with: In the high-domed, wooden-beamed, brick-tiled, spare modernity of Rudy Van Gelder’s studio, one can get a feeling akin to religion.” Rudy didn’t say anything at the time bot in 2000 he straightened me out.  “The wooden beams are in the roof,” he explained, “and the walls are not tiles but masonry.” Duly noted, but “it remains a non-sectarian non-organized religion temple of music in which the sound and the spirit can seemingly soar unimpeded.”


 

Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Perform, don’t touch


Van Gelder was fastidious in his approach–only he could touch equipment; he always wore gloves when touching equipment; he set up mics; no food; no smoking.


He rarely spoke specifically about the various techniques he learned to get “his sound.”


To musicians, not generally known for fastidiousness, Van Gelder’s approach  might sound too Puritan, a recipe for failure, but they, loved the Van Gelder sound and flocked to Englewood Cliffs.


Between the studio’s opening on July 20, 1959 to its closing on February 28, 2011, Van Gelder had over 1300 recording sessions.


He also was always looking for audio advances. While he may have started with aluminum lacquer-coated discs that were then reproduced on 78-rpm singles, he was one of the first audio engineers to switch to recording tape because of its flexibility and lower cost.


Today’s audiophiles might be shocked (and disappointed) to hear that in 1989 he went digital. Why? 


“If you just listen once to what it can do within my environment here, you would never want to record analogue again – and I didn’t,” he said to the trade press at the time. (Telegraph article)

Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Credits Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder


One can only imagine the months of music Rudy Van Gelder recorded and left behind. If All Music’s credit list is complete, then it is an astounding legacy. 


Some would say that of the thousands of hours, you only need to listen to one album: John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.


When asked, Van Gelder said, “The most momentous recording of the 1960s for me was John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. It was hypnotic. It was exciting. It was different.”


Yet it took nearly 40 years for him to realize that. “I came to that realization only when I remastered the album for its digital reissue in 2002. You have to understand, I was busy making sure that the work was recorded perfectly. It wasn’t until I was working on updating the orignal master that I listened intently to the music.”


Rudy Van Gelder died on August 25, 2016 in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. He died in his home–down the hall from his studio. (NPR obituary)


Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

 

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