What are the odds that on the day #RudyVanGelder died, I’d already scheduled for Jazz à la Mode an album– Wayne Shorter’s Adam’s Apple– that was recorded at his studio? You’re right. about 1:1. I’ve hosted jazz programs the old-fashioned way for almost 40 years by providing details like leader, sidemen, album and song title, composer, arranger, label, and date. But I’ve never been in the habit of identifying the recording engineer. If I did, Rudy Van Gelder, who died on August 25 at 91, would undoubtedly be the most frequently mentioned name of all, more than Pops, Duke, Miles, Trane, or Basie. In my book, that’s quite a legacy.
Tomorrow night, I’ll devote the show to calling his name for every record we hear. I could repeat the concept for shows on end, for when it comes to modern jazz, Van Gelder’s name was virtually ubiquitous and his work truly signified the state-of-the-art. Here’s RVG in 1999 with Michael Cuscuna discussing his career and the delight he was then taking in remastering many of the classic Blue Note and Prestige recordings he’d engineered.