Unknown about Miles and more
“The critics were still not up to me, but my albums were in demand. This was evident, if only because around this time Bob Weinstock, on Prestige, gave me $ 3,000 to record my next records — more than before. I felt that I was moving in the right direction, and on my own terms, without compromising for recognition. And if I have managed to keep my principles up to this point, then I am not going to give them up in the future.” [Miles Davis, 1955]
My friend went to Finland last winter. I read an ad on “Litsekniga” about the sale of for a private radio station in Turku and went. I brought back a Studer and a box of old tapes. Then he called me and cryptically told me that there was something I needed to hear…
In fact, in the analog era, record labels often cut tapes into tracks when they sent copies to radio stations. Convenient: you put a single on one of the reels on AEG iron, and forward to the air — you do not need to wind kilometers of tapes back and forth. Of the many tape “shorties” with hits like “hot Finnish goblins” and cool polar jazz, the box was found to contain recordings of miles Davis from the 50s. A hipster-looking grandson of the owner handed a friend a box with the words: “Not good enough.”..”What does the average music fan know about miles Davis? The great “Kind of Blue” and electric “Tutu”? For me, miles started with the Soviet license “Bags ‘ Groove”, and I first learned about Rudy van Gelder at that time. However, the great and terrible Shazam identified on the radio tapes a couple of things from “Blue Moods” with Charles Mingus and something included in the Blue Note series “Miles Davis Volume 1-2-3” – all recorded at Van Gelder Studio in the town of Hackensack.Listening with delight, I couldn’t help reading Charles Mingus’s earlier phrase about working with Rudy on Hackensack: “He just destroys the sound of my double bass, I’ll never come to him!”I was looking for a record of Mingus from RVG, and I had to look for miles’ Blue Moods…
Magical sound… And I set out to find out whether there are traces of their relationship with RVG in history. How do you create the early sound miles & Co?In the rare photos taken by Blue Note number two, Francis Wolfe, you can see details of Rudy’s parents ‘ living room: a large carpet on the floor, tall seven-light candlesticks with a star of David, simple wooden chairs and spare-folding, diagonally barred Windows on the first floor, a long table with heavy trunks of tape recorders, amplifiers, mixers, a Grand piano, Hammond organ, stands with microphones, snakes of wires on the floor.
On the recordings, this atmosphere can be heard — I can’t describe exactly how, but it can be heard…From the memoirs of miles Davis:”on Christmas eve, 1954, we went to the recording Studio with Milt Jackson, Thelonious monk, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clark and made a record with “Prestige” called “Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants”. We recorded in a Studio in Hackensack with Rudy van Gelder. There are many rumors about this recording — that Thelonious monk and I had a strained and even malicious relationship. For the most part, all this is nonsense and gossip, just people repeat them all the time, and they sort of turn into facts. In fact, we played great that day. But I want to explain once and for all what happened between me and monk.”But miles didn’t say anything about Rudy or the circumstances of the recording…
But if Hackensack, and later Englewood Cliffs, were the “home” of miles, train, Rollins, and Cannonball, what was their relationship to Rudy?”Our relationship, first of all,” Rudy recalled, ” was professional. Musicians came to the Studio to record, and that’s what I was paid for… But during our last recording session with miles and Art Blakey, it suddenly occurred to me that there was no special personal relationship between us. And I felt very sad.”This is probably the key phrase in our research!What was miles interested in then? During Rudy’s recording session with John Coltrane, miles once told Weinstock: “I started to lack space in my music, I need more space…— – and swapped the Mercedes for a white open-top Ferrari for $ 8,000. I wonder how much Rudy was paid for a session with Davis By winestock and Lyon?
1955 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta Sport
But then RVG recorded jazz musicians not only at home, in their parents ‘ living room in Hackensack, which was built according to his drawings so that it would be possible to experiment with sound, but also on the field sessions.Art Blakey: “there are legends about it (RVG). First, they say that he worked with white gloves; second, that he can’t write down the piano; third, that he doesn’t tell anyone his secrets; fourth, that he is devilishly shy…”Well, you can say that about the gloves, it’s true. But they were simple gloves, which he used only for coiling wires — it was easier and faster.
Van Gelder was once asked: “Given the special reverence for historical Blue Note recordings and the fact that they were made by direct recording from Studio microphones to two tracks, do you have a lot of requests to record directly to two tracks today, like in the good old days?””When new people come to me, they usually say,” I want to go straight to two tracks, like in the old days.” And I say, ” of Course I will.” I can still do this, although right now we can record everything on a 24-track digital recorder. As for the musicians, as for their work in the Studio, everything is clear and transparent for them. Two or twenty-four — there is no difference in setting for me. I kind of think of two tracks always while I’m recording, and actually start a two-track recording session, which very often serves as the finished mix for the master. And this is the real world now. The musicians will listen to the playback, and the double bass player will say: “Gee, I played two bad notes, touching the bridge with my fingers. Can you fix it, Rudy?”
“There was a time when a client or producer requested a two-track session, and I never ran a multi-channel backup. Even when the 4-channel Ampex appeared in the mid-50s. They (the producers) didn’t want to get involved for financial reasons. They didn’t want to spend money on a wide tape, or they didn’t want to pay for mixing in stereo after a recording session in the Studio. I’ve been agreeing with this for a long time. But then the double bass player (Mingus) would still come in, hoping to correct the wrong notes, and I would sit there like a fool and say, “Well, I can’t do anything about it, guys. The producer didn’t want to spend money on multitracking.”So I decided I wouldn’t do it again. I think of each session as a two-track recording — we are now talking about a small acoustic jazz line-up-a Quartet or trio, not some heavy production scene — then I definitely run a multi-track backup. Then when the bass player asks me to fix a couple of notes, I look at the producer or whoever is paying for the session, and it becomes his decision, their decision, not mine. Now they have to answer the double bass player themselves.”
So do white RVG gloves affect the sound? Something tells me that Yes-Yes!