Saturday, November 06, 2010

Veen-Goetz-Tegler: A Tribute to The Great Trios In Jazz

Veen-Goetz-Tegler in een eerbetoon aan de grote Jazztrio's (Nederlands) - Veen-Goetz-Tegler: A Tribute To The Great Trios In Jazz ( English)

Three Men in a Beat

VEEN-GOETZ-TEGLER: A tribute top the great trios in Jazz
Hans Koert

Last year saxophone player Robert Veen, pianist Mike Goetz and drummer Brooks Tegler made a small concert tour in Europe. Preceding this tour they recorded an album in Terwispel, a village in the northern part of The Netherlands (November 2009), dedicated to the Great Trios in Jazz entitled: Veen Goets Tegler - Three Men In A Beat.

Sometimes you get what you want. In a previous blog about a new album by the Beau Hunks Saxophone Quartet, in which Robert Veen plays the tenor saxophone, I wondered why he didn't play the bass sax - that monstrous instrument seldom used. Some weeks ago I asked Robert why he didn't play the bass sax on that new Beau Hunk Saxophone Quartet recording, although they played some tunes, recorded by the Six Brown Brothers in the second decade of the 20th century, in which Harry Flink played the bass sax. Robert explained me that a bass sax doesn't fit in a saxophone quartet, but of course it fits well in larger saxophone groups, like the Beau Hunks Saxophone Soctette. The new album, although a trio, has the bass sax, played by Robert Veen - What a great sound. Robert Veen on tenor (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

The members of the trio are Robert Veen, who plays reeds; Swiss Mike Goetz at the piano and the US drummer Brooks Tegler. All three work for years on end, succesfully, in the traditional jazz scene. Robert Veen is a member of the retro-orchestra The Beau Hunks, known for its projects, like the recollection of the music of the Laurel & Hardy films, the Paul Whiteman's Saxophone Soctette recordings and the reissues of the compositions and arrangements by Raymond Scott and Ferde Grofé. He is fascinated by the music of the legendary soprano saxophone player Sidney Bechet. He is also a member of the Aces of Syncopation, also a trio, containing tuba, banjo and clarinet.
Mike Goetz is a Swiss piano player who is fascinated by the great stride piano players like Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. He played numerous times with Robert Veen as a guest player of the Aces of Syncopation, like on the album In In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree ( Stomp Off CD 1372)
Brooks Tegler
Brooks Tegler is a Philadelphian born drummer, now living in Washington D.C. and active in numerous bands. He plays often in Europe and will join in a few concerts in The Netherlands January 2011. He played with Robert Veen in the so-called Jimmy Lunceford Legacy Orchestra.

Robert Veen says in the liner notes that he is fascinated by the trio, but that some people talk about a trio, as if it is an incomplete quartet. There are a lot of famous jazz trios in history, like the ones led by Benny Goodman, Lester Young or Gene Krupa. The latter seems to be honoured in the tune Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone, which Gene Krupa recorded with his trio ( Charlie Ventura on tenor saxophone, Teddy Napoleon on piano (brother of Marty Napoleon, who was a piano player too) and Gene Krupa on drums) in January 1953. But it doesn't seem as if the Veen-Goetz-Tegler trio selected tunes that are known as typically trio recordings.

Robert Veen on alto saxophone ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

The bass saxophone, used by Robert in almost half a dozen tracks, is not often heard and but few reed players recorded this rare reed instrument. In fact, Adrian Rollini was the first one who used it as a solo instrument and recorded it for the first time in the early 1920s as a member of the California Ramblers, but I only found some vaudeville recordings in duets by Adrian Rollini on bass sax and Cliff Ukulele Ike Edwards in the mid 1920s and a rejected recording session in a trio with Rollini on bass-sax, Frank Froeba at the piano and Teddy Bunn guitar ( January 1930) ( Thanks to Ate Van Delden, who researched the musical heritage of Rollini.). He can be found too in some 1927 sides ( as accompanist for Annette Hanshaw) with a quartet entitled the Four Instrumental Stars or the Sizzlin' Syncopators and with the Joe Venuti Quartet. Other bass saxophone players were Charlie Jackson, who recorded in the early 1920s with Joe King Oliver; Billy Fowler, to be heard in early Fletcher Henderson bands ; Spencer Clark, who replaced Adrian Rollini in the California Ramblers and related bands during the late 1920s. In the early 1940s you can find Joe Rushton on bass saxophone in Benny Goodman's band and after the war in Red Nichols bands. Some post war bass saxophone recordings were used in the more modern style jazz scene by musicians like Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Only Vince Giordano seems to use the bass sax now a days regularly in his recordings.
(source: Lewis Porter in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz)
Robert Veen on baritone saxophone ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)
So no retro music on this album - music, transferred note for note from the original recordings. Robert Veen tells in an interview with Ben Kragting jr. in the Doctor Jazz Magazine nº 172, entitled Klassieke Jazz als Klassieke Muziekbeoefening (= Classical jazz as Classical Music) about the discussion, that this kind of retro-music calls up being no jazz, because the musical score is fully written out, instead of a collective improvisation, one of the basic elements of jazz.

Well, the Three Men in a Beat, referring to the characters in Jerome K. Jerome's book Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), selected well known standards from the Django Reinhardt repertoire, like Swing 39 and Swing 42, Hoagy Carmichael's 1920s Jubilee, with a great intro by Robert Veen on bass sax; Yacht Club Swing from Fats Waller and Stuff Smith's It's Wonderful. Robert Veen selected some of his own compositions: At Ease and Cheer Up. The latter tune, however, has nothing to do with the 1931 Misha and Wesley Portnoff theme for the Ballyhoo "Cheer up" revue, a theme actual in the Depression era; a subject still actual.
Mike Goetz ( as seen through the eyes of artist Joe Busam on the cover of the In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree - Aces of Syncopation album) ( tekening: Joe Busam)
Three Men in a Beat
is not only a must-have for every one who is fascinated by the sound of the bass sax, but also for traditional jazz fanatics, who love to hear the sound of the 1920s and 1930s in full stereo.
The album can be ordered contacting Robert Veen or at the Downtown Records site.

Hans Koert

In 1841 Adolphe Sax introduced his latest invention, the bass saxophone at the Exposition de l' industrie belge ( = The Belgium Exposition for Industry). As the instrument hadn't been finished yet, it was demonstrated, hidden for the audience, behind a curtain. Five years later, on March 1846, Adolphe Sax was granted a patent for his bass saxophone ( in translation) (source: Adolphe Sax en de uitvinding in de muziekinstrmentenbouw - Ignace de Keyser (in Een muziekgeschiedenis der Nederlanden.- p. 423).

In the opening track, Jubilee, of the new album by the Veen-Goetz-Tegler band, the trio strikes the right chord as an honour to the bass sax, the instrument that plays the first fiddle in the album. This monstrous instrument is not often heard in Jazz nowadays and that's a shame. Together with stride-piano player Mike Goetz and drummer Brooks Tegler Three Men in a Beat has become a great album, a tribute to the great trios in Jazz. Keep Swinging loves to point you to this kind of albums - if you don't want to miss any contribution follow it at Twitter: @KeepSwinging or ask for its free newsletter.

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Blogger Jo said...

Thank you, Hans

I agree with you, a great album!


11:18 AM  

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