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Plotting the Way forward for the Most Storied Studio in Jazz


The constructing’s presence on the state and national registers doesn’t protect it from being altered and even demolished by a future owner, Rothschild said. To achieve that protection, Sickler has applied for a preservation easement, which can be attached to the property’s deed and involve periodic inspections. It also costs $10,000, and Sickler said that the studio’s recent recording work has raised merely enough money to cover the property tax, which is sort of $40,000 a yr.

One decision facing Sickler and any future operators is whether or not to persist with jazz, or open the studio to other forms of music. Jazz, after all, was Van Gelder’s great passion, and what the power was designed for. But even at its peak, the space was also used for blues, folk music, polka and spoken word; the primary recording session there, in July 1959, was with the West Point Cadet Glee Club.

Don Sickler, who has been dedicated to classic jazz repertory for a long time, said he favored sticking with acoustic jazz, and gruffly dismissed the concept of recording Broadway solid albums or rock ’n’ roll. (For Weezer’s latest album, “OK Human,” released in early 2021, a string section was recorded on the Van Gelder studio.)

Batiste also urged the Sicklers to carry fast to jazz. “Sticking to their guns of it being acoustic music, making it something that’s an outlier within the culture, is what’s going to actually be the precise thing to do,” he said.

Sickler is more open-minded about what the long run of the Van Gelder studio might bring.

“After all, musicians acquainted with the studio’s history, and with the work of Rudy Van Gelder, must have access,” she said. “However the live room loves all sounds.”

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