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Morning Song – Walkin’

August 27, 2016

“Walkin'” was a staple in Miles Davis’ live set for years and, according to Davis himself, one of the songs that turned his “whole life and career around“. And you can hear why—it’s funky and bluesy and swinging and charged with an almost electric sound as Davis’ sextet tunes into each other and improvises in that seemingly effortless way that only musicians at the peak of their craft can.

Rudy Van Gelder, who died earlier this week, was the engineer who captured that sound. If you read the liner notes for Miles Davis All-Star Sextet (or the sidebar of the Wikipedia entry), you’ll see it was recorded at the Van Gelder studio in Hackensack, NJ.

At the time (April 29, 1954), the Van Gelder studio was Rudy’s parents’ living room…which gives you some idea of how freaking good an audio engineer he was. Given the choice between cutting an album in a state-of-the-art professional New York City recording studio with another engineer or using Rudy Van Gelder in his parents’ Prospect Ave. living room, producers for everyone from Art Farmer to Theolonius Monk, Urbie Green to Milt Jackson, Thad Jones to Charlie Mingus, Sonny Rollins to John Coltrane, Hazel Scott to Horace Silver, preferred to take the ferry across the Hudson.

You can hear why.

 

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