Monday, June 06, 2011

Jimmy Wormworth: The 1957 American Jazz Quintet in Holland

A recollection by JIMMY WORMWOTH of the Dutch 1957 summer tour by the AMERICAN JAZZ QUINTET
Hans Koert
Thanks to the recently released 1957 Concertgebouw concert live album by the J.J. Johnson Quintet: What's New I came into contact with Jimmy Wormworth who was the leader of the American Jazz Sextet ( Quintet plus one) which was scheduled to play the first set during that concert. Jimmy loved to share his remembrances about this concert and started to inform us about his first trip to Holland in 1956 as part of a Student Cruise Program organized by the Holland America Line and the NBBS ( a Dutch student organisation) which offered young music students a cheap opportunity to visit Europe by performing during the boat trip. Donn Andre, who was the leader of the Catatonic Five shared his recollections of this period in: Donn Andre: The 1956 Dutch Catatonic Five Tour. Today I love to continue Jimmy Wormworths recollections about the summer of 1957.
The American Jazz Quintet in the Roterdams Nieuwsblad. f.l.t.r.: Roland Ashby (piano) - Barry Rogers (trombone) - Jimmy Wormworth (drums) - George Braithwaite (= George Braith) (alto saxophone) and Sal Amico (trumpet) (Rotterdams Nieuwsblad 27th of July 1957) (Jimmy Wormworth archive)
In the spring 1957 the leader of the 1956 HAL Students Cruise band was asked again to form a band for the summer cruise program to Europe, but couldn't go because he had to round off his studies and asked Jimmy if he wanted to lead a band for that trip. He loved to do it. "and instead of parting dixieland musicians to play I hired friends who were basically bebop musicians .......". He invited Roland Ashby who played the piano, Sal Amico who was a trumpet player, Barry Rogers who played trombone and George Braithwaite on alto sax. He named this band The American Jazz Quintet. Jimmy, who directed the band, played drums. "And through a close friend I met in 1956 the great late jazz drummer Al Levitt, who was in Holland working with the Dutch pianist Pia Beck - got me some work for August in Paris at the club which eventually became famous - the name of which was Le Chat Qui Peche.".

The small article at the Rotterdams Nieuwsblad 27th of July1957 (Jimmy Wormworth archive)

In the first blog with Jimmy Wormworth recollections, I wrote that Pia Beck had invited Lloyd Thompson and drummer Al Levitt to play in her club De Vliegende Hollander in Scheveningen, were Jimmy had met Al, the percussionists, he admired. In 1956 Jimmy performed too in Pia's club with the Donn Andre Catatonic Five (plus one). Jimmy Wormworth and his men arrived in Holland with the SS Johan Van Oldebarneveldt and very soon after they arrived they were invited to play in a TV-program. "We were on Dutch television, I think the second day after we arrived and how that came about I have no idea. It is possible the HAL gave the information to however the Dutch media, I can't remember." ...... in Holland someone saw us at the street approaching us, saw we were musicians and asked us to do a TV-show in Hilversum - Holland. What we did. ...............
The American Jazz Quintet: f.l.t.r.: Roland Ashby - Sal Amico - Jimmy Wormsworth - Barry Rogers and George Braith. ( photo: Jimmy Wormworth archive)
Although Dutch television had only one channel in those days, the list of TV-programs in the local newspaper don't gives us any usefull information about this TV-show. "And thanks to that TV-show a Rotterdam newspaper, using our promotional picture, wrote a small article about us". Thanks to that article the boys were soon asked to join a "travelling troup or variety show", produced by Kees Manders, who was a well known producer in those days. Sjef Van Nierop, who had a theater agency in the 1960s, was the promotor with Hans Sanders, who was his friend or assistance.
The American Jazz Quintet at a gig at the "Zuiderzee hotel"(!). Can someone tell us more about this location? (July 1957) ( photo: Jimmy Wormworth archive)
One of the artists that sung at that little tour was Joop De Knegt, who had become famous with his song "Ik Sta op Wacht", which was a hit in the summer of 1957. "Joop the Knegt was labelled as the "Eddie Fisher of Holland", Jimmy remembered. "And an acrobat, a young girl named Miss Alice, and I can't remember who else was on the bill." The American Jazz Quintet was enlarged with a Dutch bass player, named Thijs Chanovski, who named himself Mike Fels on the bills, which seemed to fit better in the line-up of the American Jazz Sextet (!).

An open-air theather somewhere in Holland. Can someone help to find the right place? (July 1957) (photo: Jimmy Wormworth archive )
Ik weet echt niet meer hoe ik er bijgekomen ben, ( = I really don't know how I came with that band), Thijs, now in his 80s, remembers. Ik speelde bas en later ook vibrafoon (= I played double bass and, later, vibes too). Jimmy remembers that Thijs joined the quintet when they were invited to play at the J. J. Johnson concert, but Thijs remembers the variety show very well. Jimmy tells, that they performed at the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse, "a large international hiking event with basically soldiers and some other kind of organisations similar to military like boy scouts or something like that.", which was scheduled from
Tuesday the 16th up to Friday the 19th of July, 1957.
Jimmy Wormworth with a Dutch bike at the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse ( 16-19th of July,1957) ( photo Jimmy Wormworth archive)
Jimmy remembered that they played for four days in a tent to entertain the hikers. "We performed in a tent, which was especially set up for us to entertain during De Vierdaagse." Thijs remembers this event, as he lived in Nijmegen in those days. Ik was toen bedrijfsleider bij een modezaak in Nijmegen en het feit dat de winkelmeisjes me zouden kunnen zien spelen viel niet erg goed bij mijn superieuren. ( = I was the manager of a fashion store in Nijmegen in those days and my superiors didn't like the idea, that the shop workers could see their manager play in a jazz band.) Jimmy says to have played in a hotel named Zuiderzee, and he handed me some photos where his band can be seen on stage in that venue. "I also remember, we played in some outdoor venue, some park, which had small amphy-theatres outdoor theatres".
The American Jazz Quintet (?) at the "Zuiderzee Hotel"(July 1957) ( photo: Jimmy Wormworth archive)
The news paper article refers also to a concert at the Amsterdam jazz club "Sheherazade".
"And I think, our last performances, the finally tour was in Rotterdam at a big glass place, which I can't remember the name as for that Rita Reys joined us, who was, I think, a big singing star in Holland at that time." Later Jimmy isn't so sure about that name. "In fact it was something like Reik or Riek". Thijs Chanovski told me that not Rita Reys, but Rika Jansen, aka Zwarte Riek, was part of the show. Like the fore mentioned Joop De Knegt, she had become a popular star due to some local hits. She had married to Kees Manders, the producer of the show. Thijs remembers that, when they played in the Rotterdam Zoo, he had to keep a young chimp in his arms when Rika sung her popular hit: Alle apies (in de Artis lijken op me Ome Hein).( = All monkeys in the zoo look like my uncle Hein). The big glass place was named The Rivierahall and located in the Rotterdam Zoo Blijdorp, so it was rather easy to find a young chimp for Rika. During this
series of Dutch concerts the American Jazz Quintet featured Sal Amigo on trumpet; George Braithwaithe on alto saxophone; Roland Ashby on piano, Jimmy Wormworth, "the whistler", the leader, as George labelled him at the drum and Barry Rogers on the trombone. The Dutch photographer Carel Vogel published some anonymous photos for a small article entitled
Het gezicht van de Jazz (= The face of Jazz), which was published in Disco Discussies. Jimmy identified his fellow musicians on three of the four photos. I'll post them in the next contribution.

They hired a car to drive along Holland (and France) - Jimmy says that the car was too small for all six members including a double bass. ( photo: Jimmy Wormworth archive)
As the quintet didn't had a bass player, they had asked Thijs Chanovski on double bass. Thijs remembered that the five American musicians loved
to sit at their hotel rooms all day, playing and jamming together. The Riviera hall concert must have been on the 28th of July, 1957 ( a newspaper article dated the 27th of July reads: Deze jonge Amerikanen kan men morgenavond in Rotterdam horen en zien ( = These young Americans can be heard and seen in Rotterdam tomorrow night), the last one in the series Kees Manders variety shows and after the concert, early August 1957, the five Americans had to leave Holland for Paris, where they had to perform in Le Chat qui Peche. Thijs had met Lou Van Rees, the famous producer, and had told him that he was performing in a very nice band that played as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Lou invited them to play at the J. J. Johnson Quintet concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the 17th of August, 1957, just a few days before they had to leave for the States. And so they did, but first the quintet moved to Paris for a fortnight trip to Paris ( France. )
Next times the Quintet trip to Paris and the Concertgebouw concert.
Thanks to Jimmy Wormworth, Faith Gibson and Thijs Chanovski for their support.

Hans Koert
keepswinging@live.nl

The August 1957 J. J. Johnson Quintet Concertgebouw concert started after the break with a great concert. Before the break, during the first set, the audience was offered the American Jazz Sextet, a group of young students, that visited Holland and played at an amusement show of Kees Manders. They didn' t had a bass player of their own, and thanks to Thijs Chanovski, who played the double bass during their Dutch gigs, they were invited by Lou Van Rees to play during the opening set of the J.J. Johnson Quintet concert at the Concertgebouw. Jimmy Wormworth, the leader of the American Jazz Sextet, loved to share his recollections of that summer trip, before they actually left for a short trip to Paris.
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(English links) Jimmy Wormworth: The 1956 Student Cruise Program stay in Holland - Jimmy Wormworth: The 1957 American Jazz Quintet in Holland - Jimmy Wormworth: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris (1957)- part one Jimmy Wormworth: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris (1957)-part two The American Jazz Sextet: The 1957 J. J. Johnson concert
Nederlandse link: Jimmy Wormworth: Het Studenten Cruiseprogramma en zijn verblijf in Nederland (1956) - Jimmy Wormworth: Het American Jazz Quintet in Nederland (1957) - Jimmy Wormworth: Het American Jazz Quintet in Parijs (1957)- deel 1 Jimmy Wormworth: Het American Jazz Quintet in Parijs (1957)- deel 2 Het American Jazz Sextet opent J.J.Johnson concert.


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