30 Days Dead Reminder

30 Days Dead Reminder

It continues…

It is day four of the annual (since 2010) free download offerings of live and previously unreleased Grateful Dead songs from the Grateful Dead site. Dead archivist David Lemieux selects each day’s offering.

David Lemieux
30 Days Dead Reminder

Day 1

Day 1 was Loose Lucy [1974-07-25, Chicago International Amphitheatre]

The next day’s reveal also gives a bit of the song’s history: Loose Lucy was played in its slower arrangement throughout 1973, as well as the first version of 1974 (on 2/22/74), but was changed to the faster version heard here on 5/17/74 in Vancouver. This is the arrangement that would be recorded for Mars Hotel.

If you’d like to listen to the whole show, well, of course this is the Dead after all so you can. And a soundboard recording at that…1974-07-25.

Days 2 & 3

Day 02 Shakedown Street [1979-12-05, Chicago, IL, Uptown Theatre]

The site pointed out that, After 1984, when it was played 10 times, Shakedown Street was played an average of six times per year 1985-1995, and was a highly sought-after song for Dead concert goers.

Another soundboard: 1979-12-05.

 

And yesterday’s was: Let It Grow [1982-08-29, Seattle Center Coliseum] Site notes: From 1977 onward, Let It Grow was primarily played as a first set closer, with a few exceptions. After 1974, they dropped the other part of the Weather Report Suite.

Whole show? Audience recording: 1982-08-29.

High Time

Today’s offering is a great High Time (that’s redundant, I know)

We find out tomorrow when and where this particular version was played. As the site says, “You know your Ables from your Bakers from your C’s, but can your finely tuned ears differentiate the cosmic “comeback” tour from a spacey 70’s show? Each day we’ll post a free download from one of the Dead’s coveted shows. Will it be from that magical night at Madison Square Garden in ’93 or from way back when they were just starting to warm it up at Winterland? Is that Pigpen’s harmonica we hear? Brent on keys? Step right up and try your hand all November long and win a prize while you’re at it.”

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Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

November 2, 1924 – August 25, 2016

 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 GelderLiving 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

Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder
photo by Douglas Raddick

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 being 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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November 1 Music et al

November 1 Music et al

Technological Milestone

November 1, 1954: jointly produced by Texas Instruments and TV accessory manufacturer IDEA (Industrial Development Engineering Associates) Corp, the TR-1 was the first consumer device to employ transistors went on sale at a price of $49.95 (less battery). One year after the release of the TR-1, sales approached the 100,000 mark.

Measuring 5×3×1.25 inches and weighing 12.5 ounces, the Regency TR-1 was designed to receive AM broadcasts only. It kicked off a worldwide demand for small and portable electronic products. (see Dec 23)

November 1 Music et al

Howl

November 1 Music et al
Allen Ginsberg, far left, reading in San Francisco on Nov. 20, 1955, and center center, in NYC’s Washington Square Park on Aug. 28, 1966.

November 1, 1956, Lawrence Ferlinghetti published Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg. (see Howl judgement for more)

November 1 Music et al

Beatles in trouble

November 1, 1960: furious that The Beatles had made a verbal agreement to play at rival Peter Eckhorn’s Top Ten Club, Kaiserkeller owner Bruno Koschmider terminated their contract. Despite this, they continued to perform at the club for another three weeks. An additonal reason why Koschmider wanted them out: at 17 years of age, George Harrison was too young to be working in the club. Eckhorn’s statement read: I the undersigned hereby give notice to Mr George Harrison and to Beatles’ Band to leave [the Club] on November 30th, 1960. The notice is given to the above by order of the Public Authorities who have discovered that Mr George Harrison is only 17 (seventeen) years of age. (see Nov 20)

November 1 Music et al

News Music/Bob Marley

November 1, 1964: Bob Marley’s Wailers’s first single, ‘Simmer Down‘, reached Number 1 in Jamaica’s JBC Radio Chart.

November 1 Music et al
News Music/Buffy Sainte-Marie

In 1964 Buffy Sainte-Marie’s first album released. It’s My Way (see Dec 22)

November 1 Music et al

“Wild Thing”

November 1, 1965, Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones release “Wild Thing.”  Written by Chip Taylor (born James Wesley Voight, brother of actor Jon Voight; uncle, therefore, of Angelina Jolie).  (see July 25, 1966)

November 1 Music et al

“Wonderwall Music”

November 1, 1968: George Harrison became the first member of The Beatles to release a solo project, an LP called “Wonderwall Music.”

Paul McCartney’s January 1967 The Family Way soundtrack recording is sometimes considered to be the first Beatles solo album, but most critics consider Wonderwall Music to be the first, because it was released under George Harrison’s name while The Family Way was credited to George Martin.

The songs, recorded in December 1967 in England, and January 1968 in Bombay, India were virtually all instrumental, except for some non-English vocals and a slowed-down spoken word track. “Wonderwall Music” is notable for being the first official LP release on Apple Records. (see Wonderwall for expanded story) (next Beatles, see Nov 8)

November 1 Music et al

Abbey Road

November 1 – December 26, 1969: Abbey Road  the Billboard #1 Album. The Beatles’ Let It Be album will be released on May 8, 1970 and be the Billboard #1 album from June 13 – July 10, 1970. Let It Be was actually recorded in before Abbey Road in February 1968, January – February 1969. Since most of Let It Be was recorded in January 1969, before the recording and release of the  album Abbey Road, some critics argue that Abbey Road should be considered the group’s final album and Let It Be the penultimate. (see November 26)

November 1 Music et al

Elvis Presley

November 1 – 7, 1969: after seven years off the top of the charts, Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” is #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It will be his last #1 during his lifetime. (see December 21, 1971)

November 1 Music et al
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