Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ramblers: recordings from a post-war Brussels

De Ramblers: opnamen uit het naoorlogse Brussel ( Nederlands) The Ramblers: recordings from a post-war Brussels ( English)

Rue des Radis

Hans Koert

De Ramblers, het Ramblers Dansorkest, or in English The Ramblers Dance Orchestra, is one of the most famous Dutch dance orchestras from the last century. Doctor Jazz Magazine reissued some post-war recordings made in Brussels, when the band performed for the allied soldiers in Brussels. The Ramblers in Brussel (1945 - 1948) - Rue des Radis (DJ 007 )

In years of dance-going, I have heard and danced to the music of America's finest orchestras, but it is my opinion that your orchestra plays the most danceable musical arrangements I have ever heard. Your "presentations" are the equal of the superior arrangements of Fred Waring's orchestra, which plays fine choral arrangements but does not play dance music. ( Edward F. Kennedy, special advisor of the American Military Service in Bavaria (Germany)) in a leter to Theo Uden Masman, the leader of the band (ca. 1949) ( in Tuney Tunes April 1949)
The Ramblers in front of the American Force Networks studio in Munich ( ca. 1949) ( photo: T.T.63 april 1949)

Founded in the mid 1920s out of the Resonance Seven the Original Ramblers developed into one of the leading dance bands in Europe before the second World War. The band became known for its Decca recordings with great jazz artists like Coleman Hawkins in 1935 and 1937.
The rhythm section of The Ramblers: f.l.t.r.: Wim Sanders - Theo Uden Masman - Jac. Pet - Kees Kranenburg ( in Tuney Tunes April 1949)
The Ramblers Dansorkest was one of the regular radio bands for the V.A.R.A. networks and played, except jazzy dance tunes, also popular music which brought it some great hits like the Zuiderzee Blues and song like Wie Is Loesje? or Meneer De Baron Is Niet Thuis. During the Second World War the band continued to play its music, not only in The Netherlands, but also in Belgium. Thanks to the pre-war radio programs, the music of the Ramblers became very popular in Belgium ( two members of the band were actually Belgian: Marcel Thielemans and André Van Der Ouderaa) and in 1942 the band was invited for a series of concerts in the major cities of the country, like Brussels and Antwerp. These concerts were a great success!
De Ramblers at one of its first performances in The Netherlands after the war: Maastricht 1946 ( photo CD-booklet: The Ramblers in Brussel (1945-1948)
A year later a new tour was scheduled and Decca invited the band to several recording sessions, where they recorded tunes like Au Revoir ( = Farewell Blues - its signature theme for a long time); Chasse á Coure ( = Hindernisrennen - better known as Steeple Chase) and Orient Express. When the war was over, now 65 years ago, the Ramblers were invited to play for a two month gig in Brussels in The Officers Club situated in the former Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit - for years a popular club in Brussels founded by Jean Omer. I wrote about it before when I talked about Jean Robert's career. Part of the Ramblers Orchestra - f.l.t.r.: Bert Grijs - Pierre Wijnobel - Rinus v. d. Broek - Marcel Thielemans - Ferry Barendse ( photo: Tuney Tunes 63 ( April 1949))
When the two months gig was over they continued to play for the US soldiers in Brussels around Rue Des Radis, a street in the Brussels entertainment centre. The Ramblers Orchestra made its first records after the period of German occupation in Brussels for Decca and these records are now reissued in a great album entitled The Ramblers In Brussel - Rue des Radis, published by the Doctor Jazz Magazine.
Photos from a so-called Miss Rambler-avond ( = Miss Rambler-evening)( ca. 1947) (photo Tuney Tunes 39 (April 1947))
When its leader, Theo Uden Masman returned to The Netherlands October 1945 he had to visit the so-called Eereraad Voor De Kleinkunst, a comité to clear and punish musicians who had performed or collaborated for the Germans; The Ramblers weren't allowed to play in public for a few months. A Tuney Tune article, a Dutch popular music magazine from April 1949 reads about this period: Over de verrichtingen tijdens de bezettingsjaren en haar onaangename nasleep ( zuivering!) is destijds in de pers veel aandacht besteed, zodat we hierover kort kunnen zijn. ( = About its activities during the German occupation and the unpleasant effects ( the clearance), have been extensively discussed in the press – so let’s make it short). Due to these clearances in its homeland, the Ramblers could perform more easily in Belgium in 1945, the first post-war year en zich enigzinds (konden) uitleven in Amerikaanse muziek ( = and could play the US repertoire). Paul Acket, who wrote the Tuney Tunes article, then a modest music journalist, later a famous producer, labels the concerts of the Ramblers in Le Boeuf sur le toit for the US Officers Club in post-war Brussels as one of its best: De eerste na-oorlogse triomfen oogstten Masman en zijn orkest in ditzelfde land en wel in de Amerikaanse officiersclub "Le Boeuf sur le toit" in Brussel. Its first public performance in The Netherlands was on the 1st of January 1946 at Tivoli in Utrecht in the centre of the country and soon after that, the weekly broadcasts for the VARA-radio started.
The Ramblers ( ca. 1949) ( photo: Tuney Tunes 63 ( April 1949))
On the album you can find two dozens of tracks - all recorded in Brussels ( except the bonus track: Rue des Radis, which was recorded in Het Hof van Holland in Hilversum, June 1946) between 1945 and 1948. Most of these recordings haven't been reissued up to now and were only available in Belgium in the Decca Swing Series - they belong to the best post-war recordings made by this famous dance band. After these recordings in Brussels the Ramblers Dance Orchestra continued to play for the allied forces, like concerts at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and radio broadcasts like Bouncin in Bavaria for the A.F.Networks in Munich at five o' clock in the afternoon. Its signature tune became the Ramblers recording of Bouncin' in Bavaria.
The sax section f.l.t.r.: Tommy Helweg - Wim Poppink - Tinus Bruyn - Fred van Ingen - Kees Bruyn ( photo: Tuney Tunes 63 ( April 1949))

The original material was restored by Harry Coster, Holland's best audio engineer, specialized in 78rpm recordings ( he was also one of the team responsable for the sound restoration of the Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944) 10 CD-set ) and Skip Voogd was responsible for the extensive informative liner notes.
A historical document that should be in every serious collection. You can get your copy at the next Doctor Jazz Dag in Wageningen ( in the centre of The Netherlands) on Saturday the 17th of April 2010 or at its website - information: ramblers@doctorjazz.nl
Hans Koert

In years of dance-going, I have heard and danced to the music of America's finest orchestras, but it is my opinion that your orchestra ( = Theo Uden Masman's Ramblers) plays the most danceable musical arrangements I have ever heard. Your "presentations" are the equal of the superior arrangements of Fred Waring's orchestra, which plays fine choral arrangements but does not play dance music. ( Edward F. Kennedy: special advisor of the US Military government in Bavaria ( Germany)(1949)
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Anonymous Al said...

I heard the band every Tuesday night in 1938 on the radio program "De Bonte Dinsdag Avond Trein"
They were very fine, even to the ears of a six year old.
I have lots of their recordings. Excellent dance music and decent jazz.
But for some crazy reason Rust chose not to include their output in his Jazz discography.
His reasoning?"...he wrote...."as the personnel included no internationally famous names ,except when Coleman

Hawkins and Connie Boswell recorded with them both q.v., it was decided to omit them from the present volume."
Patent nonsense. Many bands that were listed in the discography included personnel that had no famous names. None!
A very strange inconsistency.


7:25 PM  
Anonymous Dr. F. said...

Excellent article, Hans! (as always)

Dr. F
(Organissimo Jazz Forums)

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Big B. St. said...

wonder if the way this "endorsement" that compares Masman's music to that of FRED WARING is featured prominently

here is doing the band much of a favor if SWING/jazz fans are to be attracted to these reissues (Fred Waring, of all

band leaders .... shudder .... )

I have most of the Ramblers LPs released on the PANACHORD label quite a long time ago, and while those with U.S.

guest solists stand out, quite a few other recordings on these LPs are very nice too (though these pre-war

recordings do include their share of dross that really has dated pretty badly and shows the ability to swing is not

something sustained that easily all the time ).

Will probably get this new reissue as the track listing sounds rather original (not the umpteenth early post-war

re-recording of In The Mood or Chattanooga Choo Choo etc., though yet another version of Americna patrol apparently

could not be avoided ).
Big Beat S.
(Organissimo Jazz forums)

7:26 PM  

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