Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jean Robert - The European Hawkins

Jean Robert: The start of his musical career. (English) Jean Robert: De start van zijn muzikale carriere (Nederlands) Jean Robert: The European Hawkins ( English) Jean Robert: De Europese Hawkins ( Nederlands) Jean Robert: The Belgian Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit (English)Jean Robert – De Belgische Boeuf Sur Le Toit (Nederlands)

The Jean Robert archive
Hans Koert

One of the most important saxophone players of Belgium must have been Jean Robert. Although he played in numerous bands and recording sessions and with a more then 40 years career in music, he seems now complete forgotten by the younger generation. What a shame! The great American saxophone player
Coleman Hawkins, who played in this region for some years during the late 1930s, labelled Jean Robert as one of the best tenor saxophone improvisators in Europe, so ………. no doubts about that. Thanks to his grandchildren Michelle and Bas I can share with you some photos from Jean Robert’s own personal scrap books in some contributions. Some people on the photo’s were easily to identify; others not – that’s why we ask for your help identifying the musicians on the pictures. Today the second contribution about Jean Robert titled: Jean Robert: The European Hawkins. To be continued.

Coleman Hawkins Trio: f.l.t.r. Maurice Van Kleef, Coleman Hawkins and Freddy Johnson

As a member of the Freddy Johnson Trio Jean Robert performed at the Negro Palace in Amsterdam during the last quarter of 1938. This Freddy Johnson Trio contained Freddy Johnson at the piano, Jean Robert on the alto saxophone and Rally Wachtel on drums. At the end of a three month gig, the group made room for the Coleman Hawkins Trio featuring Freddy Johnson at the piano and Maurice Van Kleef, a Dutch musician, at the drums. Jean Robert played during this period as a substitute for Coleman Hawkins. When “Bean’( = Coleman Hawkins) had to perform in Paris or elsewhere, where he could make good money) , Robert took his place and became known as a great soloist; Coleman Hawkins labelled him once, as one of the best tenor saxophone improvisator in Europe. Gus Deloof ( photo courtesy Jean Robert archive)
In 1939 Jean Robert played with Eddie Oliver, who once played in the Ben Bernie Band as a pianist. During the 1930s Jean Robert had his own band at the Atlanta club and a quartet at the Cotton Club; both in Brussels, but he have to wait until Februariy 1940 for the first recordings under his own name. He made tworecords for Decca with Rudy Bruder at the piano and Buddy Heyninck at the drums. Jean Robert played, except his regular instruments, also the trumpet.
Jeff De Boeck ( photo courtesy Jean Robert archive)
In January 1940 Gus Deloof recorded two 78rpm records for Jazz Club, with a septet in which Jean Robert played the tenor saxophone, Gus Deloof trumpet, David Bee clarinet, Rudy Bruder piano, Andre Van Wijmersch guitar, Gene Kempf bass and Jeff De Boeck, an energetic percussionist, who loved to attract a lot of attention during concerts – too much, his critics said.

Jean Robert ( photo courtesy Jean Robert archive)

Four titles were recorded, like Gus’ own famous Sweepin’ the Floor, which he wrote in cooperation with Fud Candrix. Listen to another tune from this session, the evergreen: Whispering, in an arranged by Gus Deloof.

In 1938 Jean Omer founded a cabaret, dance hall, named Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit, where the Jean Omer Orchestra became the house band. Jean Robert was one of the members of that band. More about that period in the last contribution
One of the best record releases with a survey of Belgium jazz is the 2CD Jazz in little Belgium ( The collection Robert Pernet). It contains almost 50 tracks from the complete Belgian jazz history and an extensive illustrated and informative booklet. ( No English, sorry – only a French and a Flemish version exists). A must !!

According this contribution, it contains:

Riffin' at the Arena - F225
Recorded in Brussel, 11th of March 1941
Jean Robert director, tenor sax, clarinet, trumpet - Rudy Bruder piano - Buddy Heyninck drums.

Hans Koert

Love to thank Michelle and Bas for sharing photo's from their grandfather's archive - photo's which need some identification. Please contact us if you can identify musicians and bands.

Freddy Johnson or not? ... that's the question! ( photo courtesy Jean Robert archive)
De next photos are from Jean Robert’s scrap book and it would great if we could identify some of the musicians. I had to rack my brains over the first photo. The written words on the photo read something like: To my best pal from Taylor J…. or Johnson – As I don’t have the original photo, I’m not sure about it. The man on the photo seems to have eyes, cheeks and eyebrows like ( a ripe aged) Freddy Johnson, who passed away in New York City March 1961. But, I know this isn't correct - the wish is father to the thoughts. But who is this man? Any help welcome.

The CGD-orchestra. Jean Robert plays the bass sax. ( photo courtesy Jean Robert archive)
This band shouldn’t be too difficult to identify, as the letters on the bass drum reads: CGD It could be a band of Chas. Dolne, as I have a picture of Chas. Dolne Swingtet, with the musicians wearing the same jacquets and ties and the man–in-black looks like band leader and violin player Chas. Dolne, the Belgian Stephane Grapelly as he was labelled. He also played the guitar very well and made some special recordings with David Bee ( = Ernest Craps) on harp. It is remarkable that this band contained both a double bass and a sousaphone. The third man on the left is Jean Robert on the bass saxophone. Ate van Delden told me that Jean Robert met Adrian Rollini, the great expert on the huge bass sax, while playing at the Fred Elizalde orchestra in one of the Belgian coast clubs. Can someone help me identifying this band and its members?

The Happy Flanders Band ( photo courtesy Jean Robert archive)

Another band that can be named easily: The Happy Flanders Band, but who are the members? Jean Robert is on the right behind the baritone saxophone. Who’s the lady in the centre?
All help is welcome.
Thanks Ate for your commends.

Hans Koert

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Anonymous Umum_cypher said...

(about the first photo)

I happen to have a photo of Freddie Johnson here, and that ain't him.

Umum_cypher (London)
(Organissmo Jazz forum)

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Julian Vein said...

The autograph seems to read: "To my best pal from Taylor ?????" Freddie Taylor perhaps?

Julian Vein
( 78-L list)

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Roseman said...

Hello Hans,

Don't know if I can add anything in the way of helping to identity this band. It very well could be Chas Dolne, as you indicated on your blog. But doing a search on Chas Dolne did not return any hits with reference to any middle name or what the 'G' stands for. But that doesn't mean it's still not Chas Dolne initials on the band stands.

You indicated this pic is probably from Belgium in the 1930's. If so, and he continued into the 40's, this recent YT post may be the same Chas Dolne, but with an updated band and minus the bass sax. And I hear a harp in this piece, which you indicated that he had made some special recordings with David Bee on harp.

And thanks for introducing me to some really find Belguim jazz. I had not run across this yet and must say it's some really pleasing vibes. It's got the Golddilocks sound; not too flat, not to bouncey, it's just right.
Roseman (USA)
(from Dismuke Message Board)

6:01 PM  

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