Thursday, March 7, 2019

Barend Boy ten Hove - Jazz Caricatures

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


“During the years after World War II there were a large number of
jazz clubs in Amsterdam. These clubs were of different character.
Some were aimed at blues or at modern jazz, some at traditional
jazz. De 'Amsterdamse Jazz Club' belonged to the latter category.
It existed for nearly ten years.

When it ceased to exist it owned a small sum of money, which was
put into a fund for future use. Several years later the members of
the board decided to apply the fund for projects related to jazz
music.

The first of these [projects] is the publication of the present book
on Boy ten Hove's drawings.

We are proud to be part of the team that made it all possible.”
- Stichting Jazz Beheer [Jazz Management Foundation]  Amsterdam
- Fred Horn
- Paul Habraken

“Boy ten Hove drew and worked at a time that jazz was still hot and was bound to be so. Jazz musicians were expected to play with passion and their music should be accessible. This passion in jazz caught on with a small young audience, which admired the music and idolized its practitioners passionately. Boy ten Hove was one of these admirers and he caught his idols in striking drawings. He could definitely not live on these drawings; neither could a lot of practitioners on playing hot jazz at the time. And yet he drew them, principally out of his devotion to jazz, but it made it easier for him to buy records as well.

Passionate music yields passionate fans. Ate van Delden, having been active for Doctor Jazz Magazine among other things for more than forty years, cannot make a living out of his jazz publications and research either, neither could his illustrious predecessors. It is still pure devotion that has to urge you on. And it wonderfully led to the realization of this book on Boy ten Hove. It is this very passion which has made hot jazz and all its practitioners timeless.”
- Ben Kragting Jr., Chief editor of Doctor Jazz Magazine

Whatever the source for such statistics, let alone how accurate they are, the Jazz listening public is estimated to be 2-3% of those who purchase recorded music, attend performances, or are engaged in other music related activities.

But as is the case with those who hold minority interests relative to the whole, those relatively few Jazz fans are passionate in their devotion to the music and they come to it in various way.

Some play it; some collect recordings; some photograph musicians in action or in portraiture; some paint of illustrate; some sponsor Jazz parties, scholarships, and grants-in-aid; some create and maintain websites and blogs; some become record producers and established their own labels - the list is endless.

But in my experience, limited though it may be, only a very few of Jazz’s devotees draw caricatures.

One of the best Jazz caricatures artists was Barend Boy ten Hove [the “e” is pronounced more like “ah” in English - “Hovah”].

Unfortunately, due to when he worked as an artist and where his work was published, ten Hove’s work is known primarily in Holland and to a few collectors of his work: if you will, he’s a minority within a minority.

Adding to their general lack of awareness was the fact that the ten Hove caricatures were only drawn from 1935-1940 and published in a Dutch Jazz magazine, after which they stopped being created, due largely to the advent of the Second World War in Europe.

The good news is that thanks to the efforts of Ate van Delden, the legacy of the unique artistry of Barend Boy ten Hove [1909-1969] is not lost to posterity for with the help of family members, a grant from a Jazz Foundation [Stichting Jazz Beheer - Amsterdam] and the assistance of the magazine [Doctor Jazz] for which he drew the caricatures, Mr. van Delden has edited a collection of Boy ten Hove’s Caricatures: Drawing of Jazz Musicians 1935-1940 which was published in book form in 2006 by Aprilis.

Barend "Boy" ten Hove (1909-1969) belonged to a circle of Dutch friends who were insiders in the pre-war jazz scene. As a highly talented graphic artist he was a designer for several major Dutch periodicals and a pioneer of comic strips. Jazz was Boy’s hobby. His great opportunity came when one of his friends, Henk Niesen, started to write articles about various aspects of jazz music in Algemeen Handelsblad. a daily newspaper. These articles appeared from 1935 until a few months after the German invasion into The Netherlands in 1940. Boy ten Hove produced drawings of the artists that Niesen would write about. His drawings were also becoming popular in the UK and the USA. The war put an end to this happy period and ten Hove withdrew from the jazz scene. It was not until the 1970s when the interest in his jazz drawings started again. A new public saw them for the first time on the covers of the Dutch Doctor Jazz magazine, and in the form of an exhibition during the annual Breda jazz festival. With the help of several older generation collectors,  editor Ate van Delden built a comprehensive collection of ten Hove's drawings, which forms the basis for this book. The ten Hove family generously provided biographical information about the artist

Ate van Delden (b. Groningen, The Netherlands. 1941) has a university degree in electronics and spent his professional years in marketing. He is the chairman of the Doctor Jazz Foundation, a Dutch organization for the promotion of traditional jazz styles. He has been writing articles about early jazz for over 40 years, both for Doctor Jazz magazine and for other periodicals, He has also written liner notes for several IPs and CDs in this field His interest in the artist Boy ten Hove dates back to the 1980s. He is married and has two sons.

The context for and significance of ten Hove’s work is detailed by Mr. van Delden in the following excerpts from the Introduction to his book.

In case you are wondering where the first name of “Boy” came from, Barend ten Hove was born on March 7, 1909 in Flushing, a seaport in the southwest delta area of The Netherlands. He met his first wife Maria in Amsterdam in 1930 or 1931, According to his son Jan: “He called her ‘Girlie” and she called him ‘Boy.’” According to Mr. van Delden: “From then on Barend has been better known as Boy ten Hove, and this is how we call him from now on.”


“In the course of its ample forty years' existence the cover of the Dutch jazz magazine Doctor Jazz has seen various metamorphoses. For a long time it was graced with a pretty vamp of the Roaring Twenties, taken from the sheet music of the song Birmingham Bertha. After that, in 1973, the style changed. The cover of issue number 60, in June of that year, showed a fine, somewhat cubist drawing of Fats Waller, drawn, as the signature indicates, by B. ten Hove. This stood for Barend 'Boy' ten Hove. With it the interest in this artist was roused again, almost forty years after he had made these drawings and caricatures.

In 1979 this renewed interest culminated in the form of an exhibition of his jazz-related work by the Jazz Ten Toon foundation in Breda, The Netherlands. The exhibition counted twenty-nine caricatures, the greater part of his oeuvre insofar it was known until then. Then publicity died on him once again. Meanwhile the search for his other work continued and with good results. More than 200 drawings, of which mainly caricatures of over 100 musicians, have come to light. Besides, a considerable number of other illustrations have been found, some of which are associated with jazz. But there may still be more. Some magazines published ad hoc work by Ten Hove that has not been found yet. There may be collectors who own unpublished drawings that ten Hove exchanged for jazz records. Although it is a pity that hardly any original drawings of all this material are known, the number of drawings known is still increasing. [I know of two originals in the archives of De Spaamestad publishers, and five with a jazz collector in The Hague. In England there are some in the Max Jones archives, and in the USA in jazz promoter Milt Gabler's estate.]

On the occasion of the exhibition a leaflet had been written, telling something about ten Hove. But there is still room for a definitive biography and therefore I did not only look for his drawings but I also tried to find more details about his person. I owe the following story of Boy's life in particular to his brother Ab, his son Jan, and his daughter Berti.

Dolf Rerink, my long-time partner in the Doctor Jazz Foundation, and I interviewed Ab ten Hove on 1 February 1994 in the presence of his wife Karla. Ab consistently referred to his brother as Barend, not as Boy. He had prepared himself very well for this conversation: he had found photographs and he had even written down a brief history of Barend's life.

Jan and Berti came to visit me in Geldrop in August 1997. They, too, contributed facts and photographs. They still possess some of their father's work, but unfortunately no caricatures of jazz musicians. Both of them were so kind as to write down some facts about their father. In a later stage Ten Hove's daughter [from a different marriage] Sylvie also contributed material.

What you will read here are mainly the results of conversations with the ten Hove family, and of further research in various magazines and newspapers.

The Netherlands discovered jazz during the 1920s. Around 1930 there were numerous youngsters who danced to jazz sounds and several of them started collecting 'hot' records. Barend ten Hove was one of these. He was a member of those initiated whose interest and knowledge in 1931 resulted in the first Dutch jazz magazine De Jazzwereld.

I am very grateful for the help of those who provided me with biographical material or drawings by Boy ten Hove. But for their cooperation the present book would not have seen the light of day. Their names can be found on page 353 under the heading "Acknowledgements". I also thank Fred Horn, Jan Mulder and Peter Rijkhoff. Fred saw about a small team to produce the book, and kept an eye on the business aspects. He, too, was responsible for the format of the book. His contribution went even further, as you can see on the next pages. Jan provided the translations and was responsible for the quality of the English language. Peter's experience as a graphic artist was essential in reconstructing an often mediocre reproduction in a magazine or newspaper into a usable image. Even more visible is his general design of the book and the layout of the pages. Both Fred and Jan provided numerous corrections to the musicians' biographies. I have never realized that so many artists used so many different names and birth dates."
Ate van Delden Geldrop, July 2005


In a Preface to Mr. van Delden’s Introduction, Jan ten Hove [Boy’s son from his first marriage] had this to say about his father:

"When thinking of my father, I see a lovable man before me, whose life mainly consisted of working hard. The fear of not having enough financial means was a specter to him. That is why he did not always fulfill his role as a father. He was a shy and timid man. Though highly talented he was not self-assured, but he knew that his work was very much appreciated. He was absolutely convinced of this, he liked doing it and so it was hard to stop him.

I was eleven when my parents divorced (1947) but these eleven years were of inestimable value for me. We generally lived in the back room and my father worked in the front room. Through a chink in the sliding doors we saw his back, bent over his drawing board. This would continue till deep into the night. I should add that he did not start working until late in the morning. He was a night person. On his left there was a gramophone and every three minutes another 78 rpm record was started. Mostly jazz music and from time to time alternating with Mozart or Rachmaninov. It was not allowed for us children to come into the front room and disturb him. There was one exception: I (Jantje, four years old at the time) was allowed to sit next to him and see another new drawing come into being. I was talented, he said, and he would give me a piece of paper and set me a task. I have learned much from him and until today I still pursue the same trade as my father. Of course times and techniques are changing. My father mostly worked with India ink, or he painted in watercolors, in which he was an absolute master. When I was twenty and discussing the new techniques t used, such as air brush, he said: "Should you really do that? It's so difficult. It’ll take so much time." This is what I mean with "he was a timid man".

In addition to the illustrations that he made for magazines, books and dust covers, he was of course very busy with caricatures of musicians, mostly in the jazz scene. Also he did some booking work by bringing well-known musicians to The Netherlands. As a result life at home was quite varied. Jazz musicians from America used to come to our home and they would often spend the night there as well. In fact, as a child I often sat on the laps of the greats of jazz.

All in all I only really lived with my father till my eleventh year, but it was enough to leave a deep impression on me. I will never forget him.”
- Jan ten Hove

And in a second Introduction, Ditmer Weertman of the Dutch Jazz Archive put forth these observations;

“An artist with a great interest in jazz music, who was well-known all over the world: That was Boy ten Hove. With his beautiful caricatural style he made lots of drawings of "hot" jazz musicians. And they liked it: Chick Webb put ten Hove's drawing on his bass drum.

This makes it even more surprising that so few people in the Netherlands took notice of this artist. Apart from an exhibition in 1979, (which initiated the more thorough research which is the foundation of this book), his drawings were hardly ever shown. Even our quite extensive Jazz Bulletin on Dutch jazz history lacks any reference to this artist. All this is probably due to the fact that Boy lived his "jazz life" mainly before the war. It is during that time that he was active in the jazz scene and made most of his drawings. After the war he seemed to have disappeared from the scene.

When we look at his caricatures today, the great comic quality catches the eye. For example the Strange Fruit drawing of Billie Holiday is of great tension, which perfectly matches the strong feeling of the song as performed by her. And some of the drawings are in compliance with the trend of the fifties, which can also be seen in comics by for example Joost Swarte.

Therefore it is of great value that the making of this book was initiated and, more important, that it has been realised. I hope that this will lead to a renewed and widespread enthusiasm for this great Dutch 'Jazz Artist.’”


Mr. van Delden completes his introduction by asking three artists their opinion of ten Hove’s work in a section entitled “Present Appreciation.”

“Ten Hove's caricatures belong to a different age but they are still widely appreciated among the jazz public of newer generations. His work is also liked by other artists. Interestingly some of them, like ten Hove himself, combine a love for jazz with a profession as a graphic designer. We have asked three of these to give an impression of Ten Hove's work. All three were born during the thirties, the period during which Ten Hove made his drawings.

Louis Debij is a drummer. He noted that the quality of Ten Hove's work was quite inconsistent. Some of his drawings were substandard, while others were of the highest level. He thinks that this has to do with ten Hove's different drawing styles, his work in Rhythm being particularly fine. In Debij's opinion his technique of making line drawings was not always correct, but graphically his work is excellent.

Martien Beenen also is a drummer and as a graphic artist he works in a more abstract style [than Louis Debij]. He disagrees with Debij about ten Hove's technique and believes it was fully adequate for what ten Hove wanted to express. Beenen stated that Ten Hove's approach of giving a person a large head and a small body was typical for his time. Like Debij, Beenen noticed various approaches in ten Hove's work, such as the wash pen drawings for Willie Lewis and Willie Smith, and what could be described as a sculptor's technique for the drawings in Rhythm. Ten Hove's combination of India ink with pencil was quite unique. Beenen agrees with Louis Debij that ten Hove must have had a very good feeling for the graphic elements of his work, judging the quality of the reproductions, even in newspapers.

The third person we asked was Frits Muller, who creates political cartoons and as a jazz musician is a reed player. His first impression when seeing these drawings was a feeling of sadness, since they concern musicians who were part of his life. But he also noticed Boy ten Hove's great talent as a portrait artist. Whether it was a detailed portrait, like the caricatures in Rhythm, or a simple drawing consisting of a few lines, it showed the subject's personality. In Muller's view even a drawing that looks sketchy was carefully planned and executed by ten Hove. The various drawings show that he was a real professional. He had a multitude of techniques at hand to reach his artistic goal.

It is a pleasant thing to see that there is still a large public appreciating ten Hove's art. His subjects, the jazz people of his time, still have a large following. Books, LPs and CDs have been published about them, and will be in the future. Ten Hove's drawings have enlivened the covers of [some of those] books and records and are still being used [to illustrate articles and books], notably his caricatures of Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Frank Trumbauer and Clarence Williams. Ten Hove would have loved to see this happen.”

You can view a selection of Boy ten Hove’s Jazz caricatures in the following video set to the Count Basie Band performing Bugle Call Rag [1940].


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