1963 Full-Track Van Gelder "Master"??

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by 2xUeL, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    I am currently wrapping up research for an article about Rudy Van Gelder's recording and mastering methods. I am confused about something related to the infamous A Love Supreme "master" tapes, and I was hoping someone could help.

    The way I understand the history of the situation is as follows: in 1964, Van Gelder recorded the album to two-track tape only, then created both mono and stereo lacquer masters at Englewood (as he would with any Blue Note title). He would then have mailed these lacquers along to the pressing plant for pressing--again, just as with any Blue Note record. If he sent lacquers to the plant for ALS, there doesn't seem to be any reason why Bell Sound or ABC would need their own tape copy of Van Gelder's tape, right?

    So my questions are:

    1. Was it common practice for ABC/Impulse to make dubs like this, or was it simply the result of something like, say, needing to press more copies of the album because it became unexpectedly popular?

    2. Would Bell Sound/ABC have made stereo and mono dubbed masters from Van Gelder's two-track master?

    3. Where did his master tapes "go" after he made the lacquers?

    The reason I ask these questions is because it appears that a mono master tape resurfaced for a 1963 Coltrane-Hartman session that was used in a 2004 CD reissue remastered by Van Gelder:http://forums.dv247.com/mastering/7...oses-mono-coltrane-hartman-sacd.html#post3757. This is obviously confusing because everybody is under the impression that he abandoned full-track tape back in 1958--which makes sense. Any thoughts?
     
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  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    The way I understand the history of the situation is as follows: in 1964, Van Gelder recorded the album to two-track tape only, then created both mono and stereo lacquer masters at Englewood (as he would with any Blue Note title). He would then have mailed these lacquers along to the pressing plant for pressing--again, just as with any Blue Note record. If he sent lacquers to the plant for ALS, there doesn't seem to be any reason why Bell Sound or ABC would need their own tape copy of Van Gelder's tape, right?

    No, the two-track RVG tape was the stereo "original", the mono was full track separate machine from the start. Both first generation.

    1. Was it common practice for ABC/Impulse to make dubs like this, or was it simply the result of something like, say, needing to press more copies of the album because it became unexpectedly popular?


    As far as I can tell, it was NEVER Impulse's practice to make a cutting dub from a Van Gelder tape at anywhere other than Van Gelder's studio. And he never really made cutting dubs unless there were a LOT of edits in the original. ALS is a weird exception.

    2. Would Bell Sound/ABC have made stereo and mono dubbed masters from Van Gelder's two-track master?

    Yes, and they did, mono dumped in the early 1970s.

    Where did his master tapes "go" after he made the lacquers?

    ABC/Impulse, ABC-Paramount stored everything at Bell Sound, all masters. You have to understand this. Impluse was a little, cheap label, they didn't want to spend extra money. Bell Sound had this giant "extra billing" thing they did that made money for them whenever they could. How they did this? By making dub copies, pointless "safety" copies whenever they could. They spared Impulse for the most part this needless billing but when a quick recut was ordered of A LOVE SUPREME, since the RVG masters didn't have fades for the end of side one built in, Bell Sound decided to make an EQ dub of their recut and mark it (a usual Bell Sound trick) master.

    Now, here is the bad part. When ABC bought Dot they dumped most everything that wasn't marked "master" and all of the monos. Since the Bell Sound dub of ALS was marked (actually mismarked) master, they dumped the RVG tape and kept the Bell. A mistake made in 1973.

    Rudy never abandoned full track mono tapes until 1968.
     
  3. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Ok...so even though Van Gelder abandoned recording to full-track with Blue Note in 1958, he did actually run both full-track and two-track tape for Impulse sessions??
     
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    All depends. But who said he abandoned it?

    It comes down to: Was he in a hurry? Took twice as much time to redub than to have a simultaneous mono stereo thing going. How important was the project, how complicated?
     
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  5. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Him...you...you both say after Moanin he only ran two-track for Blue Note sessions and there were no other tapes between that tape and the lacquers...am I wrong?
     
  6. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    There are also Bell Sound mastered pressings of Impulse! albums I can not imagine were big sellers, ie some of the more avant-garde jazz. A large number of them came after the Van Gelder era, but there are some where both a Van Gelder and Bell Sound cut exist.

    I know this wasn't asked, but on my VAN GELDER stamped red/black original pressing of A Love Supreme there is also nasty hum through out. A real tragedy for it to occur on such a prominent, genre defining album.
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    You are speaking only of Blue Note? Mostly. Depended on the project. No set system in the later releases. The "Fold down" system he used in that early era worked (the "50/50" tapes) only if there wasn't anything important in the phantom center of the stereo image. As his "stereo technique" changed (and his studio) that began to change as well.

    Drives me bonkers (drove me bonkers)..
     
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  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    ABC cut everything at Bell (and must have paid threw the nose for needless safety dubs both mono and stereo). Whenever Bell did a recut, the original tape always became in jeopardy because of the marking of "master" on the dupe tape when it was just a bad Bell EQ dub to begin with. And then they made a safety of that EQ dub and a safety of the safety, etc. All charging ABC for the privilege.
     
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  9. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    And just what exactly might be in the center? Bass, reverb, and ambience? And later, piano?

    What I'm really trying to understand for my research is whether or not he ever ran full-track after this infamous October 30, 1958 date everyone including him references. So to be clear, your answer is sometimes, and it depends? Even with Blue Note??
     
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    To further clarify on Bell Sound. To them, anything that came from outside their studio was a work part and usually marked (you guessed it) "Original, do not use", even if the tape was already a leadered master. They cut their lacquer, made a (usually lackluster) EQ dub or cutting dub, marked it MASTER and then made a safety of that and then a dupe of the safety. 6 reels of pointless tape. Meanwhile, the original actual master tape was thrown into a corner where it usually went in the dumpster, sad to say.

    Not a big fan of Bell Sound. Nice studio but geez...

    There were exceptions of course, and for the stuff actually recorded at Bell, a tape marked MASTER was the real deal, a mix from a three or four track or whatever..
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Bass, piano, whatever he felt like. His statement of monitoring in mono just can't be true. His good stereo BN mixes are a thing of beauty and you don't get that by accident. You get that by monitoring in stereo.

    He ran full track for other labels (like Prestige) much later but even stuff that he knew was going to be mono he "mixed" from a twin track (then reused to record something else.)

    But I've not seen every Blue Note reel. The ones I have seen from his home studio have all been stereo reels only after that date, yes. I have not seen them all and we can guess and say that after so and so date he didn't use a mono machine again but he did for other labels and I know he did for Impulse as well because the old tape ledger for ABC (that survived, not the tapes) show mono and stereo reels from RVG studio as late as 1968.
     
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  12. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden MichiGort Staff

    Location:
    Livonia, MI
    In the liner notes for the SACD release of "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman", all it says about the mono mix is "Recently a set of the mono tapes was discovered...". Presumably, the tapes were not in ABC's custody when they did their big "purge". They were probably in the possession of an international affiliate.

    Listening to the mono mix, it sounds at least a generation of tape, probably more than one, removed from the source for the stereo mix, so it is unlikely that the actual mono masters were used. They were probably ash-canned.

    All that being said, it is fortunate that it exists from a tape source at all.
     
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  13. dhoffa85

    dhoffa85 Well-Known Member

    That makes sense very interesting thank you. By the way I love all the stuff you did with Kevin Gray on music matters and the other label I forget now the name. I am a big fan of all those RVG titles and it's wonderful to listen to them like this it's so organic and lifelike it's really great. I've connected more emotionally to the great music he recorded.
     
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  14. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    I know you're passionate about this point. But one fact that Van Gelder has made clear on more than one occasion (that you have denied on more than one occasion) is this: all the two-track tapes from Hackensack were not monitored during recording. At Englewood, all bets are off, there's all kinds of possibilities. But for Hackensack, he has stated on more than one occasion (three I believe) that he only had mono monitoring at Hackensack (I have a theory about him cutting his very first batch of stereo lacquers in early 1959 at Englewood before it was finished that I am going to attempt to confirm). I understand that you believe the balance and spread of those Hackensack two-track tapes is pleasing. But it's not like he didn't listen to anything at all while tracking. If he tracked and got a balance in mono, I would think it would be quite possible to get a "comparable" balance on the two-track without actually hearing it. He'd experience, what, a 3db drop in the center image with the two-track? That's about it regarding balance, right? Perhaps he even was aware of this and did the balance in mono while keeping this in mind...?

    That would be news to me that he had a two-track in 1956. I assumed his stint at Manhattan Towers in early 1957 was to test stereo and get his bearings with it before investing in the equipment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
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  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Sorry, didn't mean Sax C. Typing in the back seat of a car gives me a brain cloud. I meant Soultrane.
     
  16. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    I wanted to add that you have made an excellent point regarding the cancellation of an amount of ambient information when the two-track is summed. It's interesting to think that before stereo recording, that same ambience was being "cancelled" but no one was hearing it in the first place because whatever it was was only recorded in mono.
     
  17. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    So there is a record (the "ABC ledger") of Van Gelder sending both stereo and mono tapes of ALS and other Impulse titles to Bell Sound? But does that technically prove that he recorded to full-track for Impulse? Couldn't the stereo and mono tapes he mailed to Bell Sound both been duplicated from a single, first-gen, two-track session master which he then would have kept? Or did he send them his only copies, which would have been separate full-track and two-track first-gen session masters?

    What do you mean by "cutting dub" here?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  18. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Kudos to 2xUeL for untaking the research, starting this excellent thread, and for asking such pointed, well-informed questions! And kudos to Mr. Hoffman for responding in kind with information that few others possess.
     
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  19. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I believe he is referring to the EQ'd, leadered tape that the lacquers were cut from, not the session master.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
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  20. Maggie

    Maggie funky but chic

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I guess I am misunderstanding this discussion, because I've derived an inference from it that is not possible. How is it possible that A Love Supreme was recorded live to 2-track, and simultaneously to mono, when the master contains overdubs? It is widely known that the second voice on "Acknowledgment" (they are both Coltrane) and the second saxophone on "Psalm" (ditto) were added in postproduction and were not "live."

    Are you saying that the session tape was recorded live in 2 track and then mixed/edited down to a 2-track master? That's the only way this is possible. In that case, where do the overdubs go?

    Or the Coltrane family archives, since Coltrane liked to take home mono tape copies.
     
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  21. crispi

    crispi Vinyl Archaeologist

    Location:
    Berlin
    So "Soultrane" was recorded in twin-track (I cautiously use the word) stereo? And the tape later discarded? I bet they were sorry for throwing that away when they started issuing stereo records...
     
  22. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Maggie, thanks for jumping in. I was totally ignorant of the fact that there were overdubs for ALS! If they had the overdubs planned, my guess is the original tracking would have been to a single two-track tape. Then perhaps Van Gelder recorded the overdubs to both full-track and two-track, which have ultimately been the stereo and mono "master masters"? Possible, I dunno. My guess would be that he did it all in two-track, the original tracking and the overdubbed "master bounce", so he had a single two-track master tape with which to cut stereo and mono lacquers and for Bell Sound to make their tapes.
     
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  23. Blackie

    Blackie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Not sure when the stereo tape for Soultrane was (or if it was) discarded but it wasn't before Van Gelder cut the stereo lacquers used for the late 60s reissue.
     
  24. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    I may be wrong but isn't it possible that Archie Shepp played the second saxophone on "Psalm"?
     
  25. Maggie

    Maggie funky but chic

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Catching this more than a year later. It is possible, but everyone involved says the extra saxophone is a Coltrane overdub and no-one reports that Shepp was present at the session. Shepp was involved in a different session on a different date.

    In any case, the presence of these overdubs on every single release of ALS, mono and stereo, makes it impossible that a simultaneous full-track mono session tape is the source of any released version of that album.

    The same is readily determined of the album with Johnny Hartman, Mingus's Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, and any other Impulse session with overdubs and (I'd argue) edits/inserts.

    Not to mention that folding down any given Impulse stereo album to mono produces the same results as playing the mono version of the album.
     
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