Rudy Van Gelder on his early interest in sound

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Midnight Blue" (Kenny Burrell RVG session), CD: Blue Note Perfect Takes, Blue Note Records: RVG Edition 724347322709 (cut 5)

Rudy Van Gelder: My first encounter with a recording machine was on the back of a comic book and it was a full ad and it said, "Record your voice for $3." And I said, "Gee, I've gotta have that."

NEA Jazz Master Rudy Van Gelder is widely regarded as the greatest recording engineer in jazz history. As a kid he was fascinated with sound and electronics -- that 3-dollar mail-order gizmo for instance...

Rudy Van Gelder: First of all, you got a 78 rpm record with blank grooves spiraling in towards the center. And then you put the disc on the turntable and then you put this device on top, which tracked the groove. And then along with that you get a little disc about four inches in diameter with a sort of a cardboard lacquer coating and there was a device that engraved a groove in that little disc. And you talked really loud like I'm doing now into the machine and you could hear yourself. I remember I put it up against a radio speaker, turned the radio up real loud, and sure enough I was recording music -- $3 machine. That's how I started. (chuckles)

MUSIC: up and fades

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

Rudy Van Gelder on his early interest in sound