Rudolph “Rudy” Van Gelder was born on November 2, 1924 in Jersey City, New Jersey. His interest in microphones and electronics can be traced to a youthful enthusiasm for amateur radio. Named for his uncle who had been the drummer in Ted Lewis’s band in the mid-1930s, he took trumpet lessons and trained as an optometrist at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, in Philadelphia, thinking he could not earn a living as a recording engineer.
From 1943, after graduating, Van Gelder had an optometry practice in Teaneck, New Jersey, and moonlighted recording local musicians in the evenings who wanted 78-rpm recordings of their work. From 1946, Van Gelder recorded in his parents’ house in Hackensack, New Jersey, in which a control room was built adjacent to the living room, which served as the musicians’ performing area. The dry acoustics of this working space were partly responsible for Van Gelder’s inimitable recording aesthetic.
Interested in improving the quality of the playback equipment he acquired everything that could play back audio: speakers, turntables and amplifiers. One of Rudy’s friends, baritone saxophonist Gil Mellé, introduced him to Alfred Lion, a producer for Blue Note Records, in 1953. Within a few years he was in demand by many other independent labels based around New York City, such as Bob Weinstock, owner of Prestige Records. To accommodate each label – Blue Note, Prestige, Savoy, Impulse, Verve he assigned them to different days as Lion was more stringent with the sound of original music, Weinstock had essentially blowing sessions for some of the best musicians in jazz history.He also engineered and mastered for the classical label Vox Records in the Fifties.
Van Gelder worked during the day as an optometrist until the summer of 1959, when he moved his operations to a larger studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and became a full-time recording engineer. The new studio’s design was inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright had high ceilings and fine acoustics with “no food or drink and do not touch microphones” policy as he himself always wore gloves when handling equipment.
By 1967 the labels were beginning to utilize other engineers more regularly but Rudy remained active engineering nearly all of Creed Taylor’s CTI Records releases, a series of proto-smooth jazz albums that were financially successful, but not always well received by critics. He was not without his detractors. Despite his prominence in the industry, like Lion who didn’t care for the overuse of reverb, and Charles Mingus refused to work with him because he change the sound of his bass. He remastered the analog Blue Note recordings into 24-bit digital recordings in its RVG Edition series and also remasters of some of the Prestige albums, and was happy to see the LP go by the wayside because it was hard for him to get the sound the way he thought it should be.
He received awards and honors being named a fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), received the society’s most prestigious award, the AES Gold Medal, named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, received the Grammy Trustees Award, and Thelonious Monk composed and recorded a tribute to Van Gelder titled Hackensack.
Producer and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who specialized in jazz and regarded as the most important recording engineer of jazz by some observers, passed away at home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on August 25, 2016. Among the several thousand jazz sessions he recorded are the acknowledged classics John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Miles Davis’s Walkin’, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, Sonny Rollins’s Saxophone Colossus and Horace Silver’s Song for My Father.
Antonio Sánchez was born on November 1, 1971 in Mexico City, Mexico and started playing drums at the age of five. By his teen years he had begun playing professionally. Attaining a degree in classical piano from the National Conservatory in 1993, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to study at Berklee College of Music. After a Magna Cum Laude graduation in Jazz Studies, he obtained a scholarship for a Masters in Jazz Improvisation at Boston’s New England Conservatory.
While still at the Conservatory in 1997, his teacher, Danilo Pérez, recommended Sánchez to Paquito D’Rivera for the drum chair in Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, leading him to him touring with the orchestra. In 1997 Perez invited him to be a part of his acoustic trio, extensive touring, and the recording of the Grammy-nominated album Motherland. Post tour he joined Pat Metheny Group as the drummer after a series of auditions.
The group recorded two albums with Antonio the 2003 Grammy Award winning Speaking of Now, for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and in 2005 The Way Up. The Pat Metheny Trio, he and Metheny are joined by bassist Christian McBride on the recording Day Trip in 2008 and in 2012 he was the drummer on Pat Metheny’s album Unity Band.
In 2007 he recorded his debut solo album as a leader, Migration, with Metheny, Chick Corea, Chris Potter, David Sanchez, and Scott Colley. With his sophomore release, Live in New York, in 2010 Sánchez recorde the double live album at the Jazz Standard in New York after a US tour of Antonio’s band which included Miguel Zenon on alto saxophone, David Sanchez on tenor and Scott Colley on acoustic bass.
In 2013 he release of his third album New Life, and in 2014 Sánchez composed the music for the film Birdman, garnering for the soundtrack a nomination for 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, a nomination for the 2015 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), but was disqualified to compete in the Academy Award for Best Original Score, because the film also contained a significant amount of classical music.
Drummer Antonio Sanchez has performed and recorded with Avishai Cohen, Alexei Tsiganov, Misha Tsiganov, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Bendik Hofseth, Enrico Pieranunzi, Dewa Budjana, David Binney, Donny McCaslin, John Escreet and Matt Brewer among others, and continues to perform, record, tour and compose.
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Agenor Garcia was born in Campo Grande, Brazil on October 10, 1967 and received classical training from the age of 12. He eventually moved to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in 1995 where he started his composition classes with Professor Bohumil Med in the Music Department at the University of Brazil. He also taught lessons at ArtMed, Bohumil Med’s music school and wrote music scores for movies and theatre plays.
Moving to the United States in 2001 Garcia recorded his debut piano trio album Alabastro. During this period he studied jazz under Cliff Korman and by 2003 he received an invitation to participate in the Jazz Walk Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 2004 saw him move to Paris, France, teaching music lessons at the Bill Evans Piano Academy and working as a music director and performing solo. Returning to America, in 2009, he started to work with Steinway & Sons performing contemporary piano concerts across the country. His album “The Music of Agenor Garcia” was recorded live while on the Steinway tour.
Pianist, composer, performer and musical director Agenor Garcia has played numerous jazz festival, has received awards including the Spanish Heritage Award for Best Composition, and in 2014 released his album Symbiosis, blending improvisation with his musical influences. He continues to perform, record, tour and educate.
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Michael Pedicin was born on July 29, 1947 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He started playing at eight and joined a band at 15. His ability to read music and play alto, tenor, and soprano saxophone made him a sought-after session musician at Sigma Sound Studios. His session skills not only got him into the R&B side of music with Gamble & Huff but led to a self-titled debut solo album in 1980 on Philadelphia International Records that did well only in New York. His single You piqued CBS Records’ interest but ultimately they withdrew their offer when he demanded a three-record deal.
By 1981 the casinos and lounges of Atlantic City were calling his name and he moved there to pursue his musical dreams. Gigs were plentiful at first, but Atlantic City wasn’t Las Vegas, and many lounges discontinued their live entertainment and the saxophonist hit the road with Dave Brubeck for two years. He resurrected the Michael Pedicin Quartet after the stint and found work in Atlantic City’s revitalized lounges. He also started a talent agency, promoted major jazz acts, did a second album — City Song on the Optimism Records label and served as the musical director at different times for three casinos.
He formed Bayshore Music, a management company , recorded a third solo album, Angles, on Optimism that featured Peter Erskine and Micki Rossi. A fourth album, You Don’t Know What Love Is , featured the Holland, Dozier, and Gorman tune Forever, popularized by the Marvelettes and Marvin Gaye, that has been reissued by Peter Pan and Triloka Records.
Michael has worked with Lou Rawls and Maynard Ferguson, taught at Temple University, and started 12th Street Music with Sigma Sound engineer Joe Tarisa. The post-bop saxophonist Michael Pedicin continues to commute to Philadelphia for sessions, remains active on the jazz scene and composes, performs and records with his current quintet with drummer Vic Stevens, bassist Andy Lalasis, guitarist Johnnie Valentino and pianist Rick Germanson.
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Gábor Szabó was born Szabó Gábor István on March 8, 1936 in Budapest, Hungary and began playing guitar at the age of 14, inspired by jazz music heard on Voice of America. He escaped Hungary in 1956, the year of the attempted revolt against Soviet dominated Communist rule, and moved to the United States. Once there he attended the Berklee School of Music.
In 1958, he was invited to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival. He then went on to perform with the quintet of Southern California drummer Chico Hamilton from 1961 to 1965, playing what has been described as chamber jazz, with “a moderate avant-gardism. In 1962 and 1963, Hamilton’s bands cut two albums consisting entirely of saxophonist Charles Lloyd compositions. The title track of Man From Two Worlds featured Szabó’s guitar on top of a propulsive beat, parrying with Lloyd’s tenor sax.
Throughout the Sixties and Seventies he cut a span of albums as a leader for Impulse! Record label, co-founded the short-lived Skye Records with Cal Tjader and Gary McFarland, recorded an album with Lena Horne, and performed and recorded with The California Dreamers, Ron Carter, Paul Desmond and Bobby Womack. His playing also influenced guitarist Carlos Santana witnessed by Szabó’s mid-1960s jazz/gypsy guitar work in his Gypsy Queen and Santana’s Black Magic Woman.
He would go on to be label mates with George Benson at CTI, became affiliated with the Church of Scientology and signed in November 1978 with their Vanguard Artists International that brought its own set of troubles to his career, eventually ended uo with cross-suits aimed at both parties. He recorded twenty-four albums as a leader, and also worked with Steve Allen, Coke Escovedo and Santana, infusing jazz, pop-rock and his native Hungarian music.
Despite his influence on jazz music and the caliber of players with whom he performed, Gábor Szabó, who felt he was never fully accepted as a jazz artist in the United States, passed away on February 26, 1982 in his hometown, Budapest.
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