Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dutch Jazz : Yesterday and Today

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Recently a friend in Oregon sent the editorial staff of JazzProfiles the Dutch National Public Service radio broadcast of the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw’s April 28, 2011 performance featuring Jan van Duikeren, one of Holland’s premier Jazz trumpeters.

Thanks also to the generosity of a close friend in Holland, we have been able to listen to Dutch Jazz dating back to the 1950s right up to those creating the music for Holland’s contemporary Jazz scene.

As our previous features on the subject have indicated, The Netherlands has a long-established involvement with Jazz which has been fostered and developed by a number of resident large orchestras such as The Metropole, Rotterdam and Concertgebouw, a variety of fun-to-listen-to small groups and a whole host of engaging, individual soloists.

In order to share with visitors to JazzProfiles examples of both early and recent forms of Jazz in Holland, we asked the crackerjack graphics team at CerraJazz LTD to develop the following videos.

The April 28, 2011 Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw [JOC] April 28, 2011 Bimhuis concert featuring the marvelous Dutch trumpet player Jan van Duikeren is the source for the audio tracks on the first, two of these. Henk Meutgeert is the musical director of the JOC and deserves a great deal of credit for the consistently high quality of its music.

On the first video, Jan performs his original compositions, No Flowers, while the second, continuation video puts pianist Peter Beets in the solo spotlight playing 1912 Seventh Avenue. The graphics for the second video consist of a retrospective of classic Dutch LP covers which we hope will help underscore the longevity of Dutch Jazz.

And here are the insert notes to a retrospective CD by The Diamond Five, one of the earliest Dutch Jazz quintets, after which you will a video tribute to the group.

“Time and again during the past decade or so John Engels would say to me: ‘Cees, don’ t you think its time for a CD of the Diamond Five? Isn’t there any way, any possibility to get this done?' And invariably my reply would be that in this day and age where especially in the entertainment business, most art forms are so volatile and everything has to be always new and different, nobody will be waiting for the recordings of a Jazz quintet from the sixties, and not even an American jazz quintet at that! So who on earth would be interested to furnish the money to realize such a project?

And then, out of a clear blue sky, here comes this man Henk Toorenvliet who not only is interested to release a Diamond Five CD and is prepared to invest in the project, but also goes out of his way to find out where the tapes are and who owns the recording rights and how he can lay his hands on them which, with all the recent mergers in the record industry appears to be not all that easy.  But with the determination and perseverance of a terrier  or should I say of a Jack Russell? - he sets his teeth into the matter and he gets it done!

Thanks so much Henk. We really are very much indebted to you for this.

So here it is. Music we recorded in the sixties as it appeared on our LP Highlights from the 60's which is now a collector’s item The second and third sentences of the liner notes I wrote on the cover of that album read as follows:  When we had that good feeling making our first recording in Brussels way back in 1959, we had no way of even suspecting that (now) in 1978 we would have that same good feeling listening to Alone Together and Diamondate   Much less that we would like the material to be reissued.  Now I may add: Let alone that in the 21st century this would happen again now taking advantage of great new techniques to make the sound even better.

We are all very proud and grateful that we had this rare opportunity to make a band that people later would refer to as the legendary Diamond Five. Something to rejoice for us.

Sadly the most legendary member of our group, Cees Smal [trumpet/flugelhorn] cannot share this with us. After a long illness he passed away on May 24, 2001. And let there be no doubt about this: Without Cees enormous drive and enthusiasm, his grand musicianship and his arranging skill, the Diamond Five would have been but a shadow of what they have become with him.  Fortunately Cees knew this CD was going to be released and he was thrilled by the idea.

And thus I may speak for all five of us whishing our many fans who will hear and/or own this CD many happy listening hours.

And. surprise! There's more to come after this one. so watch cut!”

- Cees Slinger, pianist, arranger and composer

"Highlights from the 60’s was the apt title for the LP compilation that was released in 1978. Although the original Diamonds were founded in the fifties, their 'finest hour' so to speak was their tenure at the Scheherazade Club in Amsterdam, where the band resided from October 1958 through April 1962. As a result no post-war Dutch jazz quintet with a bebop site has played as tastefully and with more tightness than The Diamond Five

I first encountered ‘The Diamonds from Haalem’ at a concert in the Stadsgehoorzaal in Leiden in the summer of 1955.

Cees Smal on valve trombone and Harry Verbeke on tenor sax were then front-lining Wim van Beelen, piano, Henk de Jong, bass, and Tonv Funke-Kupper on drums. In their neatly striped jackets and dark pants they performed standards along with original compositions by Cees Smal, who already then proved to be a real 100 carat diamond!

Actually this was the second version of the group, the first one having, beside Cees Smal on trumpet, Ruud Brink on tenor sax, Cees Slinger on piano Henk de Jong on bass and Ruud’s brother Han Brink on drums.

But the real Diamond Five - a little later so re-baptized when a popular duo called the Blue Diamonds scored a huge hit in Holland with their rendition of the old war-horse Ramona - were actually born when Cees Slinger was requested by the then owner of the Scheherazade to form a band that would pep up the place again after some bands of lesser quality had caused business to be slow. Slinger was lucky to recruit Harry Verbeke and Cees Smal whose catchy tunes and arranging skills were to become the most valuable asset of the group. The quintet was competed by John Engels on drums and Dick van der Capellen on bass, the latter soon after to be replaced by Jacques Schols.

And thus the languid lyrical lines of Harry Verbeke and the masterful versatility of Cees Smal were a perfect match for the great soloing and comping of pianist Cees Slinger the big booming bass of Jacques Schols and the ever-propelling, flexible timekeeping of drummer John Engels.

A typical night at the "ZADE" for me was a wet walk from the tram stop at the Rembranctplein trying to get in past doorman Willem Ruska (to later become 1972 Olympic champion judo in Munich) then opening the thick-padded door looking for a seat and finally winding up standing in front of someone.

Taking in the immense cloud of cigarette smoke, not thinking of all the alcohol in rows of bottles on the left side of the bandstand, I would soon be deeply immersed in the music just wondering who would drop in to jam.

It all comes back listening to the highlights from the 60's for the first time on CD, sounding as fresh as if recorded yesterday Thanks to the engineers and of course the cats that bared their souls in Brussels, Amsterdam and Hilversum some forty years ago.”

- Cees Schrama
(live jazz radio show)