The building’s presence on state and state records does not protect it from alteration or even demolition by a prospective owner, Rothschild said. To get that protection, Sickler filed for a conservation easement, which would be attached to the title deed and would include periodic inspections. It also costs $10,000, and Sickler said the studio’s recent recording work has raised only enough money to cover property taxes, which are nearly $40,000 a year.
One decision that Sickler and any future operators face is whether to stick with jazz or open the studio to other types of music. Jazz was of course Van Gelder’s great passion and what the facility was designed for. But even at its peak, the space was also used for blues, folk music, polka and spoken word; the first recording session there, in July 1959, was with the West Point Cadet Glee Club.
Don Sickler, who has been devoted to classical jazz repertoire for decades, said he preferred acoustic jazz, rejecting the idea of recording Broadway cast albums or rock and roll. (For Weezer’s latest album, “OK Human,” released in early 2021, a string section was recorded at the Van Gelder studio.)
Batiste also urged the Sicklers to stick to jazz. “Keeping it’s acoustic music, which makes it an outlier in the culture, is what’s actually the right thing to do,” he said.
Sickler is more open-minded about what the future of the Van Gelder studio might bring.
“Of course musicians who are familiar with the history of the studio and with the work of Rudy Van Gelder should have access,” she said. “But the live room loves all the sounds.”