Back in the late '80s, when Blue Note, OJC (notably Prestige), and impulse! were initiating the first US wave of CD reissues, a whole new generation of music connoisseurs were simultaneously becoming spellbound by jazz of the 1955-70 period (which after a good 15 years of fusion, was a welcomed return to form). The record store at which I worked was in a small college town and these reissues were spearheading the CD boom and were immediate treasures for those of us discovering the likes of Blue Mitchell and Hank Mobley for the first time.
One thing that was a bit of a sore spot for a few of us, however, was why the CDs — particularly the Blue Notes — typically exhibited a lumbersome, muddy double bass sound and a cotton-soft piano sound.
One day, one of the regulars came by the store and as we were chatting about these exciting Blue Note CDs he volunteered that he once had an opportunity to observe a Van Gelder session… He explained that the reason for the clumsy bass sound was that Van Gelder wrapped the bass mic in plastic and jammed it into the bridge of the double bass. The visual seemed to explain the cavernous bass sonics wherein the bass is more "felt" (from the vibrations within the instrument) and less "heard" (radiating away from the instrument). Van Gelder’s idea seemed sonically plausible — and must have sounded good on the studio speakers to Creed, Al Lion, and Bob Thiele all of whom produced a myriad of sessions during the era. In any event, years later when a coffee table book of Francis Wolff photographs was issued, sure enough included was a photo of Paul Chamber’s bass with a mic wrapped in some sort of material and jammed into the bridge.