..... free coffee, tea and fresch drinks!
DUTCH LADIES BANDS with CLARA DE VRIES and ANNIE VAN'T ZELFDE
When you are a regular visitor of jazz clubs or festivals you know that Jazz seems to be a predominant male activity. Most jazz musicians are male and if female artists are part of the band, they happen to be the vocalist ......... Of course, I know, there are lot of exceptions that proves the rule ............ The same conclusions can be drawn for the entirely light music scene, as it seems. Women-instrumentalists seem to be rare species, but what about a complete orchestra with women-instrumentalists! That must be very very rare ......... During the 1930's and 1940s those All-Girl bands or Ladies bands, were very popular among the general public.
Babe Egan and her Hollywood Redheads ( 1932-1933) ( photo: Doctor Jazz Magazine nr. 73)
Some of you will have heard of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the Hour of Charm All Girl Orchestra, directed by Phil Spitalny or from Ina Ray Hutton who directed an All-Girl band entitled the Melodears.
Enjoy an old Soundie (1936), for the youngster amoung us, a kind of video clip avant la lettre, entitled Accent on Girls in which you can see Ina Ray Hutton directing her Melodears in the song Blues in the Groove.
Annie van 't Zelfde ( also known as Annie The Same) ( 1913 -2002) ( photo: Annie van't Zelfde archive from Doctor Jazz Magazine nr. 73)
I found a nice book about these All-Girl bands entitled Take-Off - American All-Girl Bands During WWII written by Tonya Bolden (2007). It has a CD enclosed with most Ina Rae Hutton and Sweetheart of Rhythm recordings.
All-Girl bands were not a pure American phenomenon - also in The Netherlands we had numerous All-Girl orchestras, although most are now completely forgotten. Damesorkesten (All-Girl bands), were very popular during the first half of the Twentieth Century in The Netherlands.Clara de Vries and her Jazzladies ( The Hague - 1935) (from Doctor Jazz Magazine nr. 71)
Most damesorkesten played Tango's, waltzes, polka's and the Wiener repertoire, but when in the 1930s bands like Babe Egan and her Hollywood Redheads, an All-Girl orchestra, visited The Netherlands early 1933, All-Girl bands, that played jazzy dance music, became popular. Some well known women instrumentalists, who played that kind of swinging dance music were Clara De Vries and Annie Van't Zelfde. Annie Van 't Zelfde started to play the saxophone when she heard Babe Egan's band, and together with Clara she started to play jazz or jazz-related music. Juultje Cambre, Mickey Besemer, Hannie Rutgers, Florentine Peuschgens and Rita Dalvano played all kinds of styles - also jazzy dance music, but the regular stuff was in the light-classical or light music. In a Dutch documentary, produced in 1989, made by Netty Van Hoorn, entitled Sweet and Hot Music - Nederlandse damesorkesten uit de jaren ‘30 they are well portraited as the last surviving 1930s artists that played in that kind of Dutch ladies bands. ( More about that in the next contribution)
Pschorr - Rotterdam ( 1930s)
Clara de Vries was born in Schoonhoven, a small city near Gouda, on the last day of 1918 and became a well known trumpet player. She got lessons from her father, who directed several brass bands and was a younger sister of Louis and Jack De Vries, who became well known musicians too. Louis, nicknamed The Dutch Armstrong, also played the trumpet in the Excellos Five, a band that was recorded in the mid 1920s in Berlin. Later he played in the band of his brother Jack. Jack, who played the bass and sousaphone (and sometimes trombone ) became a band leader and one of his bands was named Jack en Louis' International Band. Clara became a member of the Blue Jazz Ladies directed by Leo Selinsky in the early 1930s and this band seems to have been very popular - it played, except in The Netherlands, in Berlin, Stuttgart, Essen, Prague and München-Gladbach.
Vlissingsche Courant ( 2nd of June, 1932) (source: KrantenbankZeeland)
In June 1932 the band played at the Moeder en Kind Beurs ( = Mother and Child fair), a kind of home fair in Amsterdam and they seem to have been a very popular attraction. In a giant ad their concerts were promoted. The Vlissingsche Courant, a regional news paper, reads on the 2nd of June, 1932: Reusachtige Weensche tuin met het beroemde damesorkest The Blue Jazz Ladies. (= A giant Wiener garden with the famous ladies band The Blue Jazz Ladies.) Geopend tot 1 uur. (= Open up to 1 a.m.) Dansmuziek tot 12 uur. (= Dance music up to midnight ) 2 Dansvloeren ( = Two dance floors). Schitterende Show op het tooneel.(= A great show on stage). Gratis koffie, thee en frissche dranken.(= Free coffee, tea and fresh drinks). The editor makes objections against this ......... : Is dat alles niet écht iets voor Moeder en Kind, - dansen en gratis drinken? ( = Is this really someting for Moeder en Kind? Dancing and free drinks?) Bèl, bèl 't is toch!
In the second part more about the Dutch ladies bands of the 1930s in Dutch Blue Jazz Ladies: She Could Play That Horn
It's a pity that no film or audio fragments have survived from these great Dutch instrumentalists, but you can find numerous fragments of US All-Girls bands on YouTube. So I love to share with you a fragment from a concert by the The Ingenious playing The Tiger Rag(1929)
During the 1930s ladies bands were very popular in The Netherlands. Most bands played light classical music, Wiener songs and waltzes, polka's and tango's. Clara De Vries and Annie Van 't Zelfde played a more swinging repertoire, inspired by American All-Girl bands that had visited Europe. They became very popular and played in venues like Heck's Lunchroom and Pschorr in Rotterdam, but their music, which was never recorded, is now complete forgotten. Keep Swinging loves to point you to that part of the music history. If you don't want to miss any contribution, ask for its free newsletter.
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