Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thom Kelling - A celebrated gypsy guitar player

Thom Kelling - De gevierde zigeuner met zijn gitaar ( Nederlands) Thom Kelling - A celebrated gypsy guitar player ( English) Thom Kelling - Een Hollandse Latino ( Nederlands) Thom Kelling - A Dutch Latino ( English)

His jazzy 1940s.
Hans Koert

Almost three years ago I posted a contribution about the Dutch entertainer, guitar player and vocalist Thom Kelling, titled Thom Kelling - 42 years later. He became known in Holland for his Latin American repertoire and he had some hits in the 1950s with tunes like Maria Dolores and Lola. Not much jazz in that ..... I posted a blog about him, remembering the fact that he was one of the first artists I heard in a live concert somewhere mid 1960s in De Prinsse ( = De Prins Van Oranje Theatre) in Goes in the southwest part of The Netherlands. I still remember queueing to get his autograph .............
Ticket with autograph of Thom Kelling and some other, unknown band members.
Last week Frenk Van Meeteren from The Hague contacted me that he had found two glass based records with three tunes sung by Thom Kelling: You Stepped Out Of A Dream - two takes of Ik Denk Nog Steeds Aan Jou and an unknown English tune, problably one of his own composition. A good reason to find out more about his life and career. Today the first part: Thom Kelling - A celebrated gypsy guitar player.
Glass based record with Ik denk nog steeds aan jou by Thom Kelling ( Collection Frenk van Meeteren).
Thom was born as Thom Zomerschoe in The Hague March 1922 as the eldest son of Jan Jurjen Zomerschoe and Coba Kelling. Both parents played at Dutch theatrical companies like the Hollandsch Tooneelgezelschap, directed by Nap de La Mar and the Nieuwe Haagsche Tooneel. Both used Kelling, Coba's family name, as their artists name and so did Thom later. After he had finished the HBS ( = the High School ) and his military service at the navy, he became a guitar player. He was also to be seen in plays, as breeding will out, at the Residentie Tooneel, a theatrical company, in which his parents were active too.
Glass based record with You stepped out of a dream by Thom Kelling ( Collection Frenk Van Meeteren).

In 1944 he became a member of the Boyd Bachman orchestra and performed as Tom Kelling, de gevierde zigeuner met z'n gitaar ( = Thom Kelling, the celebrated gypsy guitar player) all around The Netherlands and during the post war period he played for the US and English army. In 1946 he became a member of Piet Van Dijk en zijn dansorkest and played in venues like the Scheveningen Kurhaus, dancing La Cocogne and La Plaza in The Hague. One of his first recordings was with the Piet Van Dijk Dansorkest ( May 1946) ( unless the glass bases records in Fenk's collection turn out to be older then 1946). During the summer of 1947 he travelled with the Piet Van Dijk orkest to Portugal, where he stayed for one and a half year, learning the Portuguese and Spanish languages.
Thom Kelling ( 1922 - 1968)
In Portugal he got his own radio program where he sung fado's and he even became an honory member of the Hot Clube de Portugal. In Portugal he played in several night clubs with artists like Don Byas. It is said that Don liked his playing and wanted him in his bands. Kees Hazevoet, who studied the career of Don Byas and compiled an extensive bio-discography titled Don Byas: part 1: American Records - part 2: European records (Cornelis J. Hazevoet, Ph. D. - Lissabon (2009)) can't confirm this.
Piet Van Dijk and his Dutch Radio Dance Orchestra. White dressed Thom Kelling and Rita Reys: the two vocalists. Others f.l.t.r. Piet Van Dijk tenor sax - Wim Vernie clarinet - Ado Broodboom trumpet - Daan Pfann guitar - Wesel Ilcken drums and Ted Powder bass ( photo Borgers ( collection Dutch Music Centre))
In 1948 Thom travelled with the Piet Van Dijk orchestra to Morocco for a four month gig in Tanger. Rita Reys, now in her 80s and still active as a vocalist, and Wessel Ilcken, were both members of the Piet Van Dijk band too. Rita sung the American songbook and Thom the Latin-American songs. In her biography "Rita Reys - Lady Jazz", written in Dutch by Rita Reys and Bert Vuijsje, released last year, she tells about this period, about their 1948 four-month contract at the Freddy's Embassy Club in Tanger ( Marocco). She tells that Thom didn't drink and that he was very critical about his food, because he was careful about his voice. He even didn't eat ice creams: Als ik ijs eet, dan krijg ik kou op mijn stembanden ( = When I'll take an ice cream, my vocal cords might get a cold .....), Thom explained. Rita Reys would develop into the leading European vocalist, honored as Europe's First Lady of jazz. In 1949 the band was to be found in Holland again performing in clubs like the Cascade in Rotterdam.
In the second part: Thom Kelling - a Dutch Latino more about his career during the 1950s and 60s.
Thanks to Kees Hazevoet for his information and Frenk van Meeteren for sharing his record scans. For more info about the glass-based records please contact.

Hans Koert

Thom Kelling, one of those almost forgotten musicians in the post war period, known for his Latin-American repertoire during the 1950s and his TV-programs in the 1960s like Top of Flop. Today you could read about his jazzy 1940s in which he played in the Piet Van Dijk Dansorkest. Thanks to two recently discovered glass-based records dusted off in this Keep swinging blog. Register for its news letter!

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Anonymous Sandra J. Bouwman-Ord said...

I can not believe what I saw! All of a sudden I felt like looking up Thom Kelling. For years when I was in the Netherlands I tried to find his music in the stores. no luck. Thom is family from me. His father and my grandmother are brother and sister.
Are there any CD's available from Thom? I do live in the States but come 'home' often.
I also knew his parents, very nice people. They lived in their later years on the van Alkemade laan in Den Haag.
Please can you inform me if any of his music is available? Thanks. Regards from Mrs. S.J.Ord.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Clive Sinoff, Ohio said...

I saw Thom Kelling and his band playing Latin American music in South Africa around 1957 or '58 which began my persistent love of Latin music. He was fantastic and I have been trying to obtain additional recordings. I know only of 2 10" LPs under the then Philips label, but have not found anything else.

6:49 AM  

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