Rudy Van Gelder on the Hackensack studio

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "It's a Lovely Day" (from Elmo Hope RVG session), CD: Trio & Quartet EMI (Code: 077778443827), (iTunes download)

In the 1950s and early '60s, one of the most happenin places in all of jazz was a modest living room in Hackensack, New Jersey - home to NEA Jazz Master Rudy Van Gelder's extremely, shall we say, "cool" parents.

Rudy Van Gelder: Let's call them indulgent? They built a house for themselves in Hackensack. And I asked them if I could put a little control room next to the living room. And, as a matter of fact, at one point they actually put an extra entry door to the building to their own living quarters so they could come in, in case I was recording.

As his business grew, Rudy began to record the best performers in jazz right there in the family living room -- Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, and scores of others. many of the classic blue note record covers depict the setting.

Rudy Van Gelder: You can see the lamps and the draperies. I had a dog who made a cover -- Rex. He was on the Elmo Hope cover -- a nice picture of him. Elmo is writin' music. You can see him leaning back in the chair... I think that's one of the reasons the music sounded that way because it was really not a studio in the sense that studios were then. And I think that you can hear it.

MUSIC: up and fades

This Jazz Moment with legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Rudy Van Gelder on the Hackensack studio