Saturday, December 04, 2010

Jan Verwey and that endless discussion!

Jan Verwey en de eeuwige discussie! (Nederlands) - Jan Verwey and that endless discussion! (English) - Jan Verwey ontmoet Bert van den Brink in Standards & Other Pieces (Nederlands) - Jan Verwey meets Bert Van Den Brink in Standards & Other Pieces ( English)

About a love-hate relationship with the maestro: Mr. T.........
JAN VERWEY and that endless DISCUSSION!
Hans Koert

Last weekend harmonica player Jan Verwey and pianist Bert Van Den Brink played at the Dutch VPRO TV-program Vrije Geluiden at the BIM-huis in Amsterdam. They presented their latest album Jan Verwey meets Bert Van Den Brink Standards & Other Pieces. This unique duo in improvisation hit off immediately and the results is a great album with ten standards and five free improvisations, entitled as Studio Fantasies.

I love to share with you part of the program, in which Bert and Jan perform in the Michel Petrucciani composition It's a Dance

The Jan Verwey Quartet early 1990s: f.l.t.r.: Hein Van de Geijn - John Engels jr. - Jan Verwey - Jack van Poll (Photo courtesy: Jos Fielmich)

Jan's discography contains almost half a dozen albums under his own name and several on which he is present. His first cd-album was entitled You Must Believe In Spring on which Jan Verwey played the chromatic harmonica with his quartet featuring Jack Van Poll at the piano, Hein Van de Geijn on double bass and John Engels jr. on drums. Angelo Verploegen plays the flugelhorn on two tracks - Theme for Joke, one of the two own compositions on the album and Bud Powell’s Bouncin' with Bud.
Jan Verwey (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)
In the liner notes of his first cd, Jan complains about the fact that the chromatic harmonica is often depicted as a toy for kids: ... the instrument is treated rather disparagingly, probably because people seem to think that the harmonica is mainly an instrument for children. Or they believe that the harmonica is only used by folk or blues singers, who utter some heartrending cries in songs ..... Jan plays the chromatic harmonica and that is a complete different instrument then the diatonic accordion, used by kids and blues players.
Jan Verwey - You Must Believe in Spring (1992)(heruitgebracht in 2006)
The chromatic harmonica is very hard to play and it feels as if Jan always has to prove that. Playing the chromatic harmonica is [....] much more difficult than it seems to be and is, in any case, much more difficult to play than most other instruments.

Jack Van Poll ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Another aspect that Jan has to accept to the inevitable, seems to be the fact that he is always compared with that other chromatic harmonica player, Mr. T. The general public links the harmonica to Toots, who simply names his instrument, Mijn Muziekske, as if there are no ot
hers that play this instrument on such a high level. What to think about Larry Adler? Are Buddy Lucas or Malachi Favors still remembered? And what about the harmonica in the Low Countries? We have our own Jan Verwey, or course, who plays at a high level and, at a resectful distance Rony Verbiest. If you have heard Jan playing his little instrument you won't compare him with Toots anymore. Jan is a real bebop player with his own style. But the Dutchman himself would certainly not be the last to admit that he is still struggling with a love-hate relationship with respect to the maestro. Maybe the best recommendation is quoted on Jan's site: Jan is de enige mondharmonica-speler die ik ken, die mij niet probeert na te spelen ( = Jan is the only harmonica player I know, who don't tries to imitate me ..) ( Toots Thielemans). Jan honours Toots in a song entitled One For Mr. T.
Jan Verwey - The Miles Davis Project (1996)

When he was recording the album You Must Believe in Spring, Jan got the idea for his nex
t cd, an album, fully dedicated to the music of Miles Davis. On the former, one of the tunes was called Nardis, originally composed, but never recorded, by Miles and this same number can be found on the 1996 album: Jan Verwey - The Miles Davis Project. Two times Nardis, but two complete different versions. The first one in a straightahead bebop style, while the second, the 1995 version, seems to be a more free, modern version, with Jos Machtel on tuba. What a great sound colour! Jan changed his quartet into a quintet featuring Jos Machtel on trombone ( and tuba on some tracks), Peter Hertmans on guitar, Frans Van Der Hoeven on double bass and Hans van Oosterhout on drums. This album, which contains nine tracks, all Miles Davis compositions, seems, as the liner notes by Jan Rensen read: to break away more and more from the big man on the little instrument, Jean "Toots" Thielemans.

Jan Verwey plays Thelonious Monk (2004)

In 2004 Jan Verwey released his one but last album dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk.

Jan Verwey invited a new rhythm section featuring guitar player Olaf Tarenskeen, Sven Schuster on double bass and Jasper Van Der Wilden on drums. Jan Verwey added the Gustav Klimt String Quartet to most of the tunes and I'm sure a lot of listeners will appreciate that, but it isn't by accident that I liked the tunes Rhythm-a-ning and In Walked Bud best- both without strings. For me ... no Monk with string! Especially the latter is a great track with Jan Verwey and Olaf Tarenskeen in duet. Especially Olaf Tarenskeen, who plays both classical as jazz guitar ( in the Tineke Postma Quintet), surprised me. In Round Midnight, a solo performance at the guitar, Olaf surprised again. I hope to learn more about this great guitar player.

If you need a surprise for Xmas maybe this Jan Verwey meets Bert Van Den Brink in Standards & Other Pieces, or one of the mentioned previous albums by Jan Verwey, could be a good choice. Get yourself a copy.

Thanks Jan for pointing me to your previous records!!

Keep Swinging

Hans Koert

Jan Verwey complains in the liner notes of his first CD-album You Must Believe In Spring, about the fact that he feels he has to prove himself. Each time critics mention the name of that other harmonica player, Mr. T. He has to explain too that his instrument, the chromatic harmonica, is very hard to play. If you have heard Jan Verwey's music you won't join this discussion anymore, as Jan's music is unequalled, original and very swinging. A week ago his latest album was presented, recorded together with piano player Bert van den Brink and the Keep Swinging blog reviewed it, together with some of his previous recordings and was surprised. If you fdon't want to mis it, follow the blog at Twitter or ask for its free newsletter.

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