Friday, September 24, 2010

Dutch Blue Jazz Ladies: She Could Play That Horn!

Hollandse damesorkesten met Clara de Vries en Annie van't Zelfde (Nederlands) Dutch Ladies Bands with Clara De Vries and Annie Van 't Zelfde ( English) Hollandse damesorkesten - Blue Jazz Ladies (Nederlands) Dutch Blue Jazz Ladies: She Could Play That Horn ( English)

Annie Van't Zelfde and Clara De Vries
DUTCH BLUE JAZZ LADIES: She Could Play That Horn!

Hans Koert

Dancebands were in the pre war years very popular in the Netherlands and a band with only ladies was top of the bill, maybe because the emancipation of women was still in its infancy. Both Clara de Vries and Annie van't Zelfde were popular women musicians, who played jazzy dance music, in stead of the light-classical repertoire of their colleagues who played walzes, tango's and Wiener songs. In a previous blog, entitled Dutch Ladies Bands with Clara De Vries and Annie Van't Zelfde I wrote about this early period too.

Pschorr in Rotterdam during the 1930s

Early 1930s Clara became a member of the Blue Jazz Ladies directed by Leo Selinsky and this band became extreme popular. Also Annie Van 't Zelfde became one of the members of the band. She played the tenor saxophone. In The Netherlands they played at dancings like Pschorr in Rotterdam and in Heck's Lunchroom in Amsterdam or The Hague. Annie told, that she sometimes played swinging jazz music, although not part of their repertoire, when the boss was not in the house ....... and the musicians and the audience liked it and became crazy. Clara De Vries ( 1918 - 1943)

Both Clara as Annie played in several girls-bands like the Wiener Jazz Ladies, in which she had to play the light-classical repertoire. In 1935 Clara De Vries founded her own band, the Jazz-Ladies, with female artists like Annie Van 't Zelfde on tenor saxophone and piano and Mickey Bezemer on reeds and cello, to name another colleague. It's a short-lived band. Annie remembers Clara as a very good trumpet player. It is said that Louis Armstrong even remembered Clara 30 years later. To quote the late Arie van Breda in his great hand book "100 jaar" Jazz in Den Haag - het New Orleans van de Lage Landen ( p. 156): Louis should have said: That Louis De Vries, he had a sister Clara with a ladies-band. Oh boy, she could play that horn! ( p. 156)Lunchroom Heck in The Hague ( 1920sg)

Clara gets a place in the orchestra of her brother, the Jack De Vries Internationals for some years. In 1937 the Jazz-Ladies is re-founded and they played at gigs in Mephisto in Rotterdam. On the 12th of July 1937 they even accompanied Coleman Hawkins. Jac. Papier, the manager of Mephisto, renamed Annie as Annie The Same, a literally translation of her family name. In 1938 Annie and Clara played in the Rosian Ladies, a damesorkest directed by accordion player Ro Hakker. They played at Heck's Lunchroom in Rotterdam.

Annie Van't Zelfde ( 1913 - 2002)
Annie Van 't Zelfde was born in Rotterdam May 1913 and passed away in June 2002, 89 years old. She studied at the conservatory of Rotterdam piano and in the early 1930s she changed to the clarinet and alto saxophone, thanks to a concert by the American dance band of Babe Eagan. In the 1930s she played in several all-girl bands together with her friend Clara De Vries. From 1939 up to 1946 she had her own band, entitled The Swing Stars. During the war she continued playing, like in the Otto Hendricks Zondagmiddagcabaret ( = Sunday morning cabaret). In the post war period she still played, in her 80s, at City Corner in Rotterdam. I remember to have heard her playing once in the 1970s or 1980s at the Doelenplein in Rotterdam, together with the Willem Breuker Kollektief. Can someone show me pictures from these events?
Evelyn Novacek - One of the numerous musical women of the 1930s and 1940s. Ad for Evelyn Novacek at Heck's City Lunchroom in Rotterdam.(source: )
In a tv-documentary, entitled Sweet and hot Music - Nederlandse damesorkesten uit de jaren ‘30 by Netty van Hoorn, Annie remembers Clara De Vries. In September 1942 she received a farewell letter from her friend Klaartje ( = Clara), who writes that she believes to be picked up soon by the Germans to be transported to an internment camp - a very emotional passage of the film.
Amsterdam - Heck's Lunchroom at the Rembrandts square
In the film six women remember there years in show biz during the 1930s and 1940s: Annie Van ’t Zelfde, piano, saxophone and clarinet; Juultje Cambre, trumpet and vocal, Mickey Besemer, saxophone, clarinet and cello; Hannie Rutgers, drums; Florentine Peuschgens, violin and Duifje Walvis, better known as Rita Del V
ano, violin.
Rita Del Vano ( aka Duifje Walvis) en haar Solisten Dames Ensemble. (1930s)
Thanks to Piet Van 't Zelfde, who pointed me to the Sweet and Hot Music documentary by Netty Van Hoorn ( in Dutch). It can beordered at her website. and to Sarah De Vries for her support. Sources: Heb je wel gehoord van Clara de Vries by Hans Langeweg ( Dr. Jazz magazine 71 p. 25 - 29) - Heb je wel gehoord van Annie van 't Zelfde by Hans Langeweg (Dr. Jazz Magazine 72. p. 8 - 12) - Annie van't Zelfde ( NJA Bulletin 45 p. 18-19)

Hans Koert

Dancebands were popular in The Netherlands during the pre-war years and especially all-women bands, damesorkesten, drew full house. Clara De Vries and Annie Van't Zelfde were two popular musicians who played jazzy dance music. Others played only in the light-classical repertoire of walzes, polka's and Wiener Songs. Netty Van Hoorn, a Dutch film maker, produced a documentary about this period. Keep Swinging saw it for you. If you don't want to miss any contribution, please ask for its news letter.

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Blogger Jo said...

Very interesting subject discussed in this and the previous entry regarding Dutch all-female orchestras. I wonder, if these orchestras and the mentioned female muscisians have been recorded? Is there any audio documentation available anywhere? Just curious, anyway, very interesting subject as said.



6:25 PM  
Anonymous Hans said...

AS far as I know Jo, there were no recordings made by these Dutch ladies bands.


6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating post! Do you have any further information about Leo Selinsky or his band(s)? My mother-in-law played in several different bands with him for many years in the '30s and '40s--they were eventually arrested together in Milan and sent to Fossoli concentration camp in Italy and eventually Leo was sent on to Auschwitz. My mother-in-law, Baby Pleskow escaped before they left Italy. She played violin and saxophone. Any information and/or photos would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much. Boyd Hagen

10:01 PM  

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