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Wednesday, 07 September 2016


So sorry to hear of Rudy van Gelder's death. He was the man who showed me digital recording wasn't so bad after all through Blue Note's RVG special editions of the late 90's, which he transferred from analogue tapes at a 24-bit rate and remastered digitally. Yes, there's a whole new level of clarity to those CD's - but still nothing that compares to his analogue recordings of the 50's and 60's, such as 'Miles Davis And The Modern Jazz Giants' (curiously, in this album's credits he's identified as "Van Geldua"!) and, as you rightly point out, Sonny Rollins' 'Saxophone Colossus.' I dare say there is a studio sound before and after Rudy van Gelder - at least in Jazz recordings.

Wow, a twofer. Great photo essay from Alex Webb, better than most of what the nytimes puts out there, and nice to see an update on Mrs. Mann, albeit not a joyful experience.

Worth revisiting "What Remains" at this moment in history, by the way.


I continue to be a big fan of Van Gelder's. He was a master of an art that is rarely mastered and little recognized.
There are other practitioners of this art that deserve the same recognition as Van Gelder for their work, especially in the area of big band recordings, which Van Gelder eschewed.
Will be interested to see if his assistant will keep the studio running.

I'm sad to learn about Rudy Van Gelder's death! As far as I know, almost all of the albums published by Blue Note Records have been recorded with him as the sound engineer. Back in the eighties and early nineties, when I was young, I enjoyed these records a lot (still do). His death coincides with the death of Marc Riboud; a second-hand copy of "China" was one of my first photo book purchases, also in the mid-eighties. Sad to watch these influences from my youth go ...

I also note in the Sally Mann NYT article:

“Usually I’m so blinkered when I approach work, but these were done for fun,” said Ms. Mann, who thinks her work shares with Twombly’s a kind of Southern melancholy or “moldering decadence,” as she put it. She switched from her trademark 8-by-10-inch view camera to a more nimble digital camera, which she retrofitted with an uncoated antique lens to give the pictures a blinding radiance and flair.

She has shot with a compact digital before (there are some images in Hold Still) but they're more factual/documentary/memory/snapshots than art work.

She started off with a Leica III and a prewar uncoated Hektor that her Dad gave to her in 1969. I presume this is a Hektor 50mm f/2.5.

The Leica had a Hektor lens with a wobbly focus knob and bad optical coating that caused a bit of flare that I rather liked (and still do).
from Hold Still.

I suspect this is the same lens on a new digital Leica with examples in the NYT article.

The lens gives an interesting mix of sharpness, in the center, and softness on the edges when wide open but without much vignetting. There is also a reduction in overall contrast from the lack of anti-reflection coatings along with a tendency to flare. These effects all match her large format "sharp/soft" look with selected "not perfect" lenses.

She's talked about doing more work with a digital Leica last year:


And the weird thing is that the digital thing—being able to work in the computer on images—is fun now, too.

Rudy Van Gelder had an amazing career and I would not even try to call out his most important recording.
I will however recommend a couple of albums that always make me smile. Not being a music critic, a musician or a music scholar means these are not likely to be definitive works, just perfect ways to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.
I have these on both vinyl and CD and while the CDs are remastered I can't tell them from the vinyl mix.



Mike - here's a link to a discussion about Mr. Van Gelder. It took place on TalkBass, a forum for bass players, both electric and double bass. A few comments from jazz musicians. FWIW.

Sorry Mike, forgot to include the link to the TalkBass discussion mentioned above. Here it is: https://www.talkbass.com/threads/rudy-van-gelder-rip.1240303/

When pawing through used LPs in any shop I always look for Rudy's ID in the inner groove markings when I'm looking a jazz releases. RIP.

This may be well known, but an offshoot of Blue Note called "Music Matters Jazz" has reissued on vinyl many of the very best Blue Note albums, which of course includes many engineered by Van Gelder. They are amazing and worth every penny.

Wow you do seem to attract guys with wild crazy beards!

It was pretty exciting to learn that Sally Mann and Cy Twombly were such close friends, since both have been in my top tens of favorite photographers and modern painters for decades. Looking at their work they seem to come from different planets and never I suspected any connection.
That heart-warming chapter in Sally’s book about Twombly!
Her whole chronicle is so impressive, even if the sad recent part of Sally’s life isn’t in it. Read it if you want to understand why photography isn’t about photography (the TOP-topic of 25 August).

The greatest thing about Rudy Van Gelder was that it's hard to hear what he contributed. He could put everything in the right place and it all seemed so evident, logical and natural that you didn’t recognize the genius. The form follows function counterpart in music. I wished more architects had his attitude.

@ Chuck Albertson & Mike: Living outside the New York Times pay wall you can read ten free articles each month.

I too subscribe to the times digital media and looked to see what I could find on my iPad.

I could find no "Photography" section. But way down under "Blogs" there was the "Lens" section. There I found the Alex Webb Mexico story.

The Sally Mann article I found near the top of all the segments under the "Arts" banner.


The New York Times photography blog does not seem to be behind its paywall. This is from UK.

Hey ho.

> Have you ever done that? ...walk around with another photographer
> and try to take the same shots...

In the BBC Imagine documentary about William Eggleston (The Colourful Mr. Eggleston), Jurgen Teller recalls seeing Eggleston take a photo of a rubbish bin, so he copies him, to have his "very own Eggleston." Egleston's photo was, apparently, magnificent. Teller said his was a photo of a rubbish bin.

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