Thursday, March 05, 2009

Andre Ekyan - Saxophone Player: the 1930s

Andre Ekyan - Saxofonist: De Jaren Dertig (Nederlands) Andre Ekyan - Saxophone Player: The 1930s (English) Andre Ekyan - Saxofonist: De Jaren Veertig en Vijftig (Nederlands) Andre Ekyan - Saxophone Player: The 1940s and 1950s (English)

A rather extensive
ANDRE EKYAN DISCOGRAPHY (recordings under his own name) - Hans Koert
A rather extensive
ANDRE EKYAN DISCOGRAPHY with recordings as a side man - Hans Koert

André Ekyan – A French Saxophone Player
The 1930s
Georg Lankester

(Translation: Hans Koert)

It is within French jazz that one finds some of the earliest evidence of European voices establishing themselves on the saxophone. The contributions which André Ekyan (12907-1972) and Alix Combelle (1912-1978) made to the musical genius Django Reinhardt in the late 1930s are clearly informed by their literate enthusiasm for such American masters as Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter and - above all - Coleman Hawkins. In their recordings one finds altoist Ekyan and tenorist Combelle preparing cultured pathways for the elegancy and bite of their American confreres. (Quote from: European Voices - Michael Tucker (in: Masters of Jazz Saxophone)). George Lankester, guitar player and expert in pre-war French jazz history loves to introduce you today to Andre Ekyan's pre-war career in: Andre Eykan - Saxophone Player: the 1930s and the post war years in: Andre Ekyan - Saxophone Player: 1940s and '50s.

André EKYAN et son orchestre du BŒUF sur le TOIT. On the right: Andre Ekyan. The drummer is Jerry Mengo. Second from the right Andy Foster. (ca. 1934)

Andre Ekyan was born in Alicante, Spain, October 1907.
No-one could have foreseen that he would become one of the most important pre- war pioneers in the French jazz scene and an important soloist on his instrument.
His mother was a Hungarian; his father was from Armenia. His official name was Echkyan. He was raised in France and as a kid he learned to play the clarinet and saxophone.

Vocal trio in the André EKYAN orchestre du BŒUF sur le TOIT : f.l.t.r. Andy Foster, Jerry Mengo, André Ekyan. (ca. 1934)

His early career

André visited the university to become a dentist. During his study he bought himself an alto saxophone and within a week he could play the first tunes on the instrument. Late 1920s he stopped his dental studies and became a full time professional musician. He started as a member of the Orchestra of Perroquet in Paris and had his own small group playing at the “La croix du Sud’ cabaret early 1930s. Delaunay stated that Django Reinhardt must have been one of the regular visitors of that club. He played with bands like Jack Hylton’s, (1931) with the Orchestra of Fred Astaire and in Grégor et ses Grégoriens. One of the known members of that band was a young Stephane Grappelli. In 1934 and 1935 he was part of ‘Le Jazz du poste parisien’. Since the early 1930s, André Ekyan made a name as an arranger for tunes, like “Jazz symphonique Salabert’. He recorded St. Louis Blues and Moonglow as the director of the “French Hot Boys”.
Listen to a tune, titeled Le jour où je te vis, sung by the famous French chansonier, crooner, Jean Sablon, recorded in 1934, accompanied by
André Ekyan et son orchestre.

In 1935 he became one of the major organizers in the ‘Boeuf sur le Toit’, a cabaret where a lot of jazz musicians performed and he recorded for the Ultraphone label. A year later he played in New York with Tommy Dorsey and with Joe Turner and
Fats Waller. Returned in France he started the Swing Time cabaret in which his orchestra became the house band. Tenor sax player Alix Combelle remembered some great jam-sessions in this club (jam-sessions are called Des Boeufs in French).
Andre Ekyan: Saxophonist and clarinet player
In “Au Florence”, one of the numerous cabarets in Paris, trumpet and alto sax player Benny Carter jammed until day break with the great tenor saxophone Coleman Hawkins, Django Reinhardt and trumpet player Bill Coleman. Both Hawkins as Carter were invited in the spring of 1937 by the Hot Club du France organisation. Another fragment on which we can hear
Andre Ekyan as a member of the Patrick et son Orchestre de Danse on a Pathé recording from december 1934: Okay Toots!

Historical recordings
In 1937 Ekyan was one of the first to be recorded by the new Swing label founded by Charles Delaunay. He is to be heard in recordings with Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Alix Combelle and Django Reinhardt with tunes like “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Crazy Rhythm”; “Out of Nowhere” and “Sweet Georgia Brown”, essential sides by Coleman Hawkins and his All Star Band that should be in each collection.
Music on three levels: from the top to the bottom the bands of Django Reinhardt, Gus Viseur and Andre Ekyan (Paris 1941) ( in: Les grands orchestres de Music Hall en France - Jacques Helian)
In 1939 André Ekyan is to be heard in five swinging Django Reinhardt recordings, titled The Sheik,, “Dream Ship”, “I Can’t believe”...., “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” and “Blues of Yesterdays”. In three tunes the US tenor sax player Big Boy Goodie is to be heard, in whose band
Oscar Alemán played for some months. He had settled himself in Paris, from the state of Louisiana, USA, in the early 1930s.

Georg Lankester: of via

(translation: Hans Koert)

A rather extensive Andre Ekyan Discography ( recordings under his own name) - Hans Koert

ANDRE EKYAN and his ORCHESTRA (feat. Alix Combelle) – Paris September 1935
St. Louis blues- Moon Glow – Limehouse Blues – You Rascal You (Ultraphone)
ANDRE EKYAN-DJANGO REINHARDT – Paris – 7th of July 1937
Pennies From Heaven – Tiger Rag ( Swing)
ANDRE EKYAN et son ORCHESTRE (feat. Frank Big Boy Goudie, Joe Turner, Django Reinhardt) –
Paris, 24th of May 1939
The Sheik – Darktown Strutters’ Ball – Blues for Yesterday (HMV )
ANDRE EKYAN TRIO ( with Django Reinhardt) Paris, 24th of May 1939
Dream Ship – I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me (Swing)
ANDRE EKYAN Quartette (feat. Django and Joseph Reinhardt) – 22nd of March 1940
Rosetta – Sugar – A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody – Margie (Swing)
ANDRE EKYAN Quintette (feat. Django Reinhardt) – Paris 11th September 1941
Hungaria – De Nulle Part (Swing)
ANDRE EKYAN et Orchestre (feat. Andre Ekyan ) Brussels 1943
Palm Beach – Irene – Place Blance – Bugle Call Rag ( Decca)
ANDRE EKYAN et Orchestre (feat. Andre Ekyan) Paris 10th of July 1945
Blue Smoke – Royal Garden Blues – Take The A Train – Stardust ( Odeon)
ANDRE EKYAN et Orchestre (feat. Andre Ekyan-Andre Salvador) Paris 1945
Cement Mixer – Hey Ba Ba RE Bop – I Should Care – Saturday Night – Perdido – Perfidia – Mop Mop – Stars in your Eyes ( Odeon)

(Later) A rather extensive ANDRE EKYAN Discography ( as a side man) - Hans Koert

Links about French Jazz you should have read:
Gus Viseur Josephine Baker Oscar Alemán: His European Career Miles Davis: Ascenseur pour L'échafaud Raymond Guyot Gerry Mulligan Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Keep Swinging News letter Keep Swinging Contributions

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Blogger Jo said...

Thanks for an interesting and informing article about the formative years of this great sax player. Looking forward to the follow-up.


5:42 PM  

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