Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jean Robert's sax: a great souvenir

Jean Robert's sax: Een tastbare herinnering ( Nederlands) Jean Robert's sax: a great souvenir (English)

The original Selmer saxophone back home.
Bas Robert - Hans Koert

Last summer the grandchildren of the Belgium / Dutch tenor saxophone player Jean Robert ( 1908 - 1981 ) contacted me, as they were searching for the stories behind some photo's they'd found in their grandfathers legacy. Jean Robert was a saxophone player who was to found in the Belgian jazz orchestras of the 1930s like the one directed by Jean Omer. Coleman Hawkins labeled his as the best saxophone player of Europe. After the war he played in cabarets before he settled as an arranger for the Dutch radio orchestras in Hilversum. This contact lead to three contributions about Jean Robert's life and career: Jean Robert: The start of his musical career - Jean Robert: The European Hawkins and Jean Robert: The Belgian Le Boeuf sur le Toit .
A few weeks ago this series of blogs got a special continuation, I love to share with you. Bas Robert, one of his grandchildren, wrote me: The Selmer tenor saxophone of Jean Robert. ( photo courtesy: Bas Robert)

The Jean Robert triptych in your Keep Swinging blog got a great ending I love to share with you. Thanks to the publications in your blog I could trace the original tenor saxophone of my grandfather Jean, which he used in the European jazz scene since the late 1930s. Jean Robert (1908-1981) with his instrument.

Pierre, my father, Jean's son, played the bass guitar late 1970s - early 1980s in the band of Toni Macaroni. This group is still active now-a-days. My father left the band, short after the death of my grandfather in 1981 and he divorced from my mother. Since that day I haven't heard from him. The original instrument. ( photo courtesy Bas Robert)

Thanks to my mother I learned that my father had lent out Jean's former saxophone to his band member Hans Luikinga, who played ( and he still does) saxophone in the band of Toni Macaroni. Thanks to your blogs I decided to contact Hans Luikinga. I did sent him an email and asked him if still had the Jean Robert saxophone and if so, I asked him if I was allowed to have a look at it. Hans' response was very nice and he informed me that the instrument was still in the storage room of the band. Ten years ago the instrument was restored by Ton Kooiman in De Meern ( centre of The Netherlands).

The instrument is still in its original case ( photo courtsy: Bas Robert)

Hans is a physiotherapist with a practice close to my parent's house ( can you imagine?) and a few weeks ago he handed me there the Jean Robert tenor saxophone. It is a handmade Selmer tenor saxophone, selected by Jean in person in 1939 at the Henri Selmer factory in Paris. Thanks to the restoration it can be used right away and it contains even its original case. Except for some photos and some music I'd sent you, I didn't had any relics from the past; now I do have the ultimate relic you can imagine: his original instrument, thanks to your blogs. I'm most grateful to you for that. That's what I loved to share with the visitors of this blog. Thanks and ............ Keep Swinging!

Bas Robert

Thanks Bas for sharing this with us; congratulations with the instrument - a great souvenir from the past - part of your roots.
Hans Koert

If you like stories like the one today, about people searching for their roots, like Bas did which finally succeeded in finding his grandfather's sax, then you might be anxious to learn what other subjects have been posted lately. Of course you could visit our surview site, but you could also ask for the newsletter. Please register

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Anonymous Rich Hargrove said...

Good Evening !

First off, hats off for a fine article on Mr. Jean Robert. Well done !

I have just heard Hot Trio Jean Robert on decca - SWINGIN AT THE ARENA- 1941.

Hawk is 100% correct !!! Jean Robert is one OUTSTANDING and swinging musician .....bar none !!

As a musician/ASCAP composer/ bandleader of 53 years, I've heard many greats and I can honestly say that Robert is A number one !

Come on Belgium, give this man some
recognition. Why isn't there some of his works on cd for sale ?
He certainly deserves his works to be heard.

Thanks &............

Rich Hargrove,
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

2:29 AM  

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