Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hank Jones - A Legend on the Keys

Hank Jones - A Legend on the Keys (English) Hank Jones - Een pianolegende ( Nederlands)

North Sea Jazz 2009 - 10th of July 2009
Hans Koert

The North Sea Jazz Festival 2009 was scheduled on the 10th up to the 12th of July 2009 at Ahoy in Rotterdam. hundreds of concerts - hundreds of artists and ten-thousands of visitors from all parts of the world joined the festival. Friday, the 10th of July 2009, when I visited the festival, 18,000 visitors made it feel comfortable – on Saturday and Sunday, with almost 25,000 visitors each night, the venue was jam-packed. Today the last review of the North Sea Jazz Festival with the concert by Hank Jones Trio. The previous blogs about the North Sea Jazz Festival were titled: North Sea Jazz: A Critical Note
North Sea: Festival of Extremes Fred Hersch Trio + 2 live at North Sea Jazz

Hank Jones ( North Sea Jazz 10th of July 2009) ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert*)

To be honest ……… Hank Jones’s planned concert was one of the main reasons to decide for a Friday visit to the festival. Last year he would have celebrated his
90th birthday with Roberta Gambarini and Roy Hargrove, but he had to cancel that concert due to health problems. This year he was scheduled with his trio featuring Georg Mraz and Willie Jones III.
Georg Mraz ( North Sea Jazz - 10th of July 2009) ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert* )
Hank Jones was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on the last day of July 1918 as the eldest one with two musical brothers, Thad and Elvin. Thad Jones became famous a trumpeter and band leader of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra ( its successors, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra were playing the previous concert at the Hudson) and Elvin Jones became known as a skilled drummer in recordings and performances with great names as John Coltrane. I heard him in a concert with his Jazz Machine, at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, July 2002.
Hank Jones a legend on the keys ( North Sea Jazz 10th of July 2009) ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert* )
Hank Jones raised into a musical family in Pontiac, Michigan, although his father, who was deeply religious, didn’t like him to play Jazz, especially on Sunday: ……. He thought Jazz was a bad influence because back then it was associated with places of ill repute and people of questionable backgrounds: Don Quellette quotes Hank in the liner notes of For My Father. And he was right. I was always running into people like that, but I was also able to disassociate myself from that part of the scene. He started to play professionally after the Second World War with Hot Lips Page. He is to be heard as pianist in the Hot Lips Page Septet on a Continental recording session ( November 1944). In the New York Jazz scene he learned other jazz musicians and performed with them: Coleman Hawkins, Howard McGhee, Andy Kirk and Billy Eckstine. And he became part of the famous Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, organized by Norman Granz. He made the first recordings under his own name in 1947 for Clef. In April 1952 he played with the JATP at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen ( The Hague) and a few days later at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Georg Mraz ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert*)
Since the 1950s up to now, Hank Jones played in innumerable recording session and became a sought after accompanist for both jazz as non-jazz musicians. One of his latest recordings is an album with Roberta Gambarini, titled You Are There; the music of that album should have been spotlighted in last year canceled concert at the North Sea festival.
Willie Jones III ( North Sea Jazz 10th of July 2009) ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert*)
Hank Jones brought his trio to Rotterdam with George Mraz on bass and Willie Jones III on drums. Georg Mraz, the Czech-born bass player, who started his career in the 1960s in the S & H Quartet ( named after Spejbl and Hurvínek, who runned the club they played) and is to be found in the rhythm section of numerous jazz (hard)bop albums. Great to hear him playing in this small setting. Willie Jones III, drummer in Roy Hargroves groups for years, is a well known guest at the Porgy en Bess Jazz club in Terneuzen (south west part of The Netherlands) and the last time I heard him was in the
Roberta Gambarini concert March 2009. Being the third Willie-Jones-in-jazz he uses the Roman III to indicate that.
Hank Jones Trio ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert*)
Most of the tunes played by the trio were standards like Blue Minor, Lady Luck, Recorda-me, Lament, Stella By Starlight and Round Midnight. It was great to learn how these great musicians could get the audience as still as a mouse – only the irritating sounds from the near by concerts were disturbing.

I pointed in a previous blog to the severe security measures and the fact that the ordinary visitor were not allowed to bring in a professional camera. Jacques Los, blogger of the (Dutch) Draai Om Je Oren blog even had to boycot the festival. Well, to make some pictures I was early in the Hudson, when the men were doing some sound checks. You should know that I wore a T-shirt with the cover of the Cannonball Adderley “Something Else” cover, the 50 years old Cannonball Adderley recording, on which Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones and Art Blakey play as side men. When Hank Jones returned back stage he saw my shirt and he gave thumbs up – it made my day

Hans Koert
* Due to the fact that I wasn’t allow to use my “professional camera” the pictures are of a minor quality – I explained it in a previous blog: North Sea Jazz – A Critical Note.

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Anonymous Marek B. said...


Iheard Hank Jones at the 1983 North Sea Festival the good old days when it still featured jazz (I am a listmate on DJML, rememeber?). Wow! As soon as the first show ended we had to clear the hall, but I immediately walked back in! What a great performance!


(Dixieland Jazz List)

5:56 AM  

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