Monday, May 23, 2011

Donn Andre: The 1956 Dutch Catatonic Five tour

We played in Scheveningen at Pia Beck's through the end of July, working three performances in each of the three clubs in the building (Flying Dutchman, Scheherazade and Les Galleries). (Donn Andre)

Don Andre - Hans Koert

Donn Andre: The 1956 Dutch Catatonic Five tour (English) Donn Andre: De Catatonic Five toernee in Nederland (1956) (Nederlands)

Last week I posted the recollections of Jimmy Wormworth, drummer and leader of the American Jazz Quintet / Sextet, entitled Jimmy Wormworth: the 1956 Student Cruise Program and stay in Holland. Jimmy visited The Netherlands in 1957 and was, with his American Jazz Sextet, part of the Jay Jay Johnson Quintet concert at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. The previous year Jimmy visited Holland for the very first time as a member of the Catatonic Five, a student band, playing dixieland music, directed by Donn Andre.
I promissed to post the second part of Jimmy's recollections this week, but, guess ........ Donn Andre sent me an extensive message with his recollections of this 1956 Catatonic Five tour, so I decided to post that first before continuing with Jimmy's story about his 1957 trip to Europe. Let's share Donn Andre's recollection:

A Dutch advertisement of the Pia Beck club De Vliegende Hollander ( The Flying Dutchman) ( Zeeuws Dagblad - 12th of May, 1962) (source: Krantenbank Zeeland) ( click to enlarge)

The Catatonic Five (plus One) was a band started at Hamilton College in Clinton NY in 1953. I joined it on banjo in 1954 as a freshman, and took over leadership in 1956. We did play our way over to Holland in June 1956 on the Holland-America Line's SS Waterman. On both the voyage to and from Europe the band played for mainly college students usually twice a day. I had made contact with the renowned Dutch pianist Pia Beck the previous winter and she invited us to play at "her" club, the Vliegende Hollander (Flying Dutchman) in the resort town of Scheveningen when we got to Den Haag (= The Hague) in late June. We had trouble getting a work permit, but were given lodging in the club manger's apartment in downtown Den Haag. which was located above the in-town winter Flying Dutchman and the permit came through after two weeks. We played in Scheveningen through the end of July, working three performances in each of the three clubs in the building (Flying Dutchman, Scheherzade and Les Galleries); then set out with two rented Opels to tour Europe. We returned to Den Haag in late August, had a gig up in Winschoten, then took the SS Zuiderkruis back to the States.

Pia Beck says about the fact that foreign musicians played at her club: Ik heb altijd succes gehad in Scheveningen, wie ik ook meebracht als begeleiders of extra attracties. (= I have been always succesful in Scheveningen, even not to say my accompanists or extra attractions.) Ieder jaar zocht ik daarvoor een andere musicius uit. (= Each year I invited another musician) ( in Muziek in zwart-wit - Cor Gout)

Pia Beck ( Zeeuws Dagblad- 10th December, 1960) ( source: Krantenbank Zeeland)
The picture of Jimmy on the SS Waterman was taken by me, or perhaps a lady named Caroline who befriended us. The band members were me on banjo (and leader/manager/tour leader, etc.); Jimmy Wormworth on drums; Peter Ill on trumpet; Phil Mead on trombone; Johnnie Johnson on piano; Emerson Brown on clarinet/soprano. Of note is that another Utica NY product, Ronnie Zito (Woody Herman, among others) also worked frequently with the Catatonic Five. In fact, Ronnie was our drummer until his family would not let him travel to Europe with us in 1956. Some other notable musicians who worked with us were Charlie Traeger (double bass), with Bob Wilber), Charlie Queener (piano), Billy Rubenstein (piano at Kai Winding's ), Mike Parker (trumpet) and Derry Hall (piano). Another real highlight for the Catatonic Five was a performance in Carnegie Hall in NYC in November 1956, playing opposite Jack Crystal's Central Plaza All-Stars. Jimmy played that gig with us, too. Federal Jazz Commision (Washington DC) at the Guldfisken bar in Køge (Denmark) March 1998. Donn is the banjo player.
The members of the other band, as best I can remember were: Dick Wellstood piano), Gene Cedric (clarinet), Panama Francis (drums), Johnny Windhurst (trumpet), Lou McGarrity (trombone), Conrad Janis (trombone). As for me, I have worked with many Washington area musicians in a number of mostly trad jazz bands since moving to the area in 1960, notable of which were Southern Comfort and most recently the Federal Jazz Commission, which disbanded three years ago. Those two bands played numerous festivals; and the FJC toured Denmark in 1998. I also was a member of the Louisiana Jazz Band of Copenhagen from 1989 to 1991.
Louisiana Jazz Band of Copenhagen: leader was Per Birge Seehusen. There was another gig where I played with a group in Koge Denmark) that was mostly Lousisiana, but also from Ricardo's Jazzmen, with good players (e,g, Jørgen Svare from Papa Bue's Viking Jazz Band, and Borge Ehler from Ricardo's). I am presently inactive.

Dag! In jazz, ( Donn Andre )
Thanks Donn for your lengthy recollections about your trip to Holland. I hope to post the Jimmy Wormworth recollections for 1957 later.
Hans Koert

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Donn Andre, a banjo and guitar player, visited Holland in the summer of 1956 at a Student Cruise Program of the Holland America Line and the NBBS. His group, the Catatonic Five, performed at the Vliegende Hollander in Scheveningen, the club of Dutch entertainer and piano player Pia Beck. One of the members of his band was Jimmy Wormworth, drummer, who was the leader of the American Jazz Sextet, a group of students to play as the opening performance at the J. J. Johnson Quintet concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. You can find his recollection about this 1956 tour in this Keep Swinging blog too. If you don't want to miss any contribution at the Keep Swinging blog follow it at Twitter or ask for its free newsletter.
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