Thursday, October 29, 2009

A unique report: Louis Armstrong in Blokker - 1965

A unique report: Louis Armstrong in Blokker ( 1965) ( English) Een uniek verslag: Louis Armstrong in Blokker - 1965 ( Nederlands)

Unique photos and an eyewitness report

A few months ago I posted a blog, titled Satchmo, live in an auction hall in Blokker,
about a legendary concert by Louis Armstrong then 50 years ago, May 1959. It was a great success and Louis had liked it very much - he promised to come back. And he did so .......... six years after this concert Louis returned to Blokker, a small village between Enhuizen and Hoorn in, what we call, de kop van Noord-Holland, the northwestern part of The Netherlands and Henri Hoogewoud, now living in Spain, joined that concert with his camera; a concert which was less successful then the first one. Only 1,800 fans had found Blokker for that concert, that was scheduled on the 27th of May, 1965. Looking back upon this, the football game between Inter Milan and Benfica on Dutch television, a live report, thanks to Eurovision, could be the reason, or, more likely, the growing interest by the youth for new music styles. Well never mind, Henri made a lot of pictures and loves to share his remembrances and a selection of his photos with the visitors of the Keep Swinging blog.
Louis Armstrong All-Stars in Blokker.( f.l.t.r. sitting Tyree Glenn - Louis Armstrong - Eddie Shu - Danny Barcelona. Behind the piano Billy Kyle. In front: Buddy Catlett. ( May 1965) ( photo courtesy Henri Hoogewoud)
This second concert by Louis Armstrong in de Veilinghal of Blokker on Thursday, the 27th of May, 1965, Ascension Day, ( and his last one in Holland) started less spectacular then 6 years ago - no great entry in the village of Blokker like in 1959, but, nevertheless, 3,000 people joined both concerts in the auction hall. Louis had brought his All-Stars, feautirng Eddie Shu on trumpet, clarinet and tenor saxophone, Tyree Glenn on trombone and vibes, Billy Kyle at the piano, Buddy Catlett on bass and Danny Barcelona on drums. Louis, the leader on trumpet and vocals of course, had brought Jewel Brown, a 27 years young vocalist, who had performed with
Lionel Hampton as a teenager and sung in Louis Armstrong All-Stars from 1961 up to 1968.
Louis Armstrong All-Stars in Blokker ( May 1965) ( photo courtesy: Henri Hoogewoud)
Two concerts were schedulde: a matinee and one in the evening; 1,800 men visited the latter. Satchmo opened the concert with the Royal Garden Blues, the overture for a series of jazz standards as played regular by Louis's All-Stars: Mack the Knife, When it's Sleepy Time Down South, Lover Come Back To Me and I Left My Heart in San Francisco ( both with Jewel singing), Tiger Rag and, of course, Louis's last hit, Hello Dolly, he recorded in December 1960. This tune, was used in the musical Hello Dolly and became a hit thanks to Louis's version. Other tunes performed might have been, according the Paris concert a week later, Indiana, Back O'Town Blues, Perdido, Blueberry Hill, Bill Baily and the less known It's Easy to Remember and When I Grow Too Old To Dream. The concert was a financial flop - the organization had a loss of 37,000 Dutch guilders.
The audience in Blokker had to sit on crates. ( May 1965) ( photo courtesy: Henri Hoogewoud)
Let's share Henri Hoogewoud's memories to the 1965 Armstrong concert ( in translation):
We were really excited for the concert - finally we should see him live in concert - Louis Armstrong in person. It was a pity, but I missed his first concert in Blokker in 1959. It was, in fact, the first time I was in de Veilinghal in Blokker. I was surprised to learn how they had changed it into a real concert hall; no chairs at all - we had to sit on vegetable crates and the hall wasn't jam-packed as I had expected. Well, that was no problem, because their was a relaxed atmosphere.
Louis Armstrong and Gert Timmerman ( Source: De Beeldbank - National Archive)
The concert started with Gert Timmerman and an orchestra, featuring Gert on clarinet. As I was not a fan of Gert Timmermans singing, I learned that he really could swing on the clarinet. During the break, poor Louis had to present Gert a golden and a diamond record for his "Ik heb eerbied voor jouw grijze haren", a 1963 hit in Holland. After the break: Louis Armstrong in person. The stage was build with all kind of platforms made with crates and decorated with flowers; in the centre of the hall a place was created for the photographers. On stage they had create a construction for flashlight, with cords all over the place. Life photographer John Loengard had to make a photo report of Louis' concerts in Europe. Of course Blokker was one of the concerts to register. His photos were released in LIFE Magazine of the 15th of April, 1966. Loengard could takes his photos, walking around and connect his camera to the flashlight installation wherever he wanted; what a different with the digital camera’s now a days.
Louis Armstrong. Behind him Eddie Shu on clarinet. (Blokker - 1965) ( photo courtesy: Henri Hoogewoud)
I brought my own camera, an Ashi Pentax. My girlfriend sat with some friends in the center of the audience and I could walk around, as if I was one of the organization and talked to people. One time, I remember, I talked to a man in a glitter costume. Later my girl friend told me I had talked to Gert Timmerman! .... oops. This would be impossible now a days - the security men would protect the artists and the stage. In those days, it seemed that nobody cared if you walked around, making photos. I think I must have made ca 60 photos during the concert; I selected some to share with you in this blog.
Louis Armstrong (Blokker - 1965) ( photo courtesy: Henri Hoogewoud)
After the concert I loved to have an autograph of Louis, but the stage door was secured and I couldn't get in. So I went outside and walked to the house next to the auction hall and entered it. There I saw him, in the kitchen, just entering the living room. In the kitchen all the members of the orchestra were having their coffee - I couldn't enter into the living room - I had to wait until Louis invited me.
Louis singing. f.l.t.r.: Tyree Glenn - Louis Armstrong - Danny Barcelona - Eddie Shu. (Blokker - 1965) ( photo courtesy: Henri Hoogewoud)
In the mean time my friends had lost me and didn't know where I was, so I had to contact them that I was waiting for permission to meet Louis. Well, if you are already inside the house, you can easily leave the house and return later. I told the security that I had forgotten to take my camera from the hall and so I could inform my friends. Back in the kitchen Louis invited me to come in. There he was, sitting at the table. "Please sit down", he invited me. He had enough time to talk to me, about my camera and about my photos .....I almost forgot to ask him for an autograph and the only paper I found in my pocket was the entree ticket of the Blokker concert - I still have it ..... as a relic !!
Henri Hoogewoud ( translation: Hans Koert)
Tyree Glenn and Louis Armstrong ( Blokker - 1965) ( photo courtesy: Henri Hoogewoud)
It was one of the last concerts organized in the Veilinghal Op Hoop Van Zegen of Blokker - one of the last concerts in a series of legendary concerts, like the one with Louis Armstrong in 1959, the concerts with Benny Goodman, The Pretty Things, the Dutch Swing College Band, Robert Stolz, Rita Reys with the Trio Pim Jacobs, Nana Mouskouri, Jacques Brel and ............ the Beatles of course. The end of a period........

Hans Koert

I love to thanks Henri for sharing his photos and remembrances to this concert. It is good that such information should be shared with further generations!

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Anonymous Agustin said...

Absolutely superb article, Hans!!!!

Thanks a lot,
Agustín ( Madrid - Spain)
( organissimo jazz formus)

8:53 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

A great post featuring unique photos, first-hand report of the event and additional info - what a treat, the carisma of Louis shines through all of it. Thanks a lot for this great post!


9:55 AM  
Anonymous Steve S. said...

Thank You for the wonderful story and photos from Blokker!---

Steve S.

5:35 AM  

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