Friday, July 22, 2011

Jimmy Wormworth: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris (1957)-part one

August 1957: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris.
Yeahhh, kid, you were playing great!! (Kenny Clarke)
Hans Koert
( Thanks to the recently released 1957 J.J. Johnson Quintet album What's New I came into contact with Jimmy Wormworth who was the leader of the American Jazz Sextet, which was scheduled to play the first set during that concert (17th of August,1957). Jimmy loved to share his remembrances about this concert and started to inform me about his first trip to Holland in 1956 as part of a Student Cruise Program of the Holland America Line which offered young music students a cheap opportunity to visit Europe while performing during the boat trip. Donn Andre, who was the leader of the Catatonic Five shared his remembrances of this period in: Donn Andre: The 1956 Dutch Catatonic Five Tour in a previous blog.
The rented EMW, probably in The Hague: In front: Roland Ashby and Sal Amico . (photo courtesy: Jimmy Wormworth)
During he summer of 1957 the American Jazz Quintet ( + Dutch bass player Mike Fels (aka Thijs Chanowski)) toured with a kind of variety show, featuring artists like
Zwarte Riek and Joop De Knegt, two Dutch popular vocalists, not related to jazz music at all. Mijn stiefvader was Jan Fels en ik heb in mijn Apeldoornse tijd ook zijn naam aangenomen.( = My stepfather was Jan Fels and when I lived in Apeldoorn I used his family name ) Thijs explained his pseudonym Mike Fels. Chanowski is mijn eigen naam die door Ger Lugtenburg van de AVRO weer te voorschijn is gehaald toen ik daar ging werken als producer / regiseur. (= Chanowksi is my real name, which was used again by Ger Lugtenburg of the AVRO-network again, when I started there as a producer). Thanks to Thijs, Lou Van Rees, the great Dutch jazz producer, invited the American Jazz Quintet (+ one) to play as the opener of the J.J.Johnson concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the 17th of august, 1957, but first they had a gig in Paris.
Barry Rogers, the trombone player of the American All Stars with Jean, who was a fan, a hanger-on in Paris when we worked at the Chat Qui Peche (quote: Jimmy Wormworth) (photo courtesy: Jimmy Wormworth)
During the two weeks preceding the Concertgebouw concert Jimmy Wormworth and his men travelled to Paris where they were invited to play at the famous Le Chat Qui Pêche club. The members of the band were: Jimmy Wormworth drummer and leader, Roland Ashby piano player, Sal Amico trumpet, Barry Rogers trombone and George Braithwaite (= George Braith) alto saxophone. Jimmy Wormworth had rented a car when they arrived in Holland late June 1957 to travel more easily. We had our own rented car, an EMW, which we purchased from a car dealership in The Hague, when we 1st arrived in Holland. The EMW's, full named Eisenacher Motoren Werk, were build in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, later called East Germany; later the factory built the better known Wartburg motor car. I think that they cheated us, because the car was always breaking down, and we had to pay all the repairs. The repairs cost us a lot of our money, Jimmy remembers.

George Braithwaite (= Braight), a I'm with the band girl, a groupie and trumpet player Sal Amico (Paris August 1957) ( photo courtesy: Jimmy Wormworth)
The American Jazz Quintet was invited to Paris by the US drummer Al Levitt. Jimmy had met him in Scheveningen at the Pia Beck Flying Dutchman club the previous year, where he accompanied Pia Beck together with
the Canadian bass player Lloyd Thompson. (He) got me some work for August in Paris at the club which eventually became famous, the name of which was Le Chat qui Pêche. In Paris Jimmy needed a double bass player and invited the French bass player Michel Gaudry to complete his band. Michel Gaudry, born in September 1928 in Eu (France), had studied the double bass at the Lausanne Conservatory in Switzerland and had returned to Paris in 1957 to become a sought after accompanist for musicians like Art Simmons, Billy Holiday and Carmen McRae who visited Paris in 1957. Michel Gaudry, who must be in his 80s now, has always been active in jazz and performed and recorded with dozens of well known jazz musicians from Bud Powell, Stephane Grappelli, Sonny Criss, Barney Kessel up to Sam Woodyard and Lionel Hampton ( to list some).
Billie Holiday while in France (November1958) with Mal Waldron (piano), unknown bass player and Michel Gaudry on bass ( source:

Jimmy remembers that they met Lucky Thompson, the US saxophone player, who had recorded as a leader on a dozen albums in Paris in 1956 and, back in the States, returned to France in the summer of 1957 to stay there up to 1962. In the summer of 1957 Lucky Thompson can be find in the recording studios with Martial Solal and Sammy Price and, in September 1957 with US drummer Kenny Clarke. In the intervening periods Lucky Thompson and his men must have played in the Paris club St. Germain where they heard him playing, together with the Dutch piano player Nico Bunink, who had replaced Martial Solal in Lucky Thompson's regular quartet.
Another Parisian snapshot: Jean Plaisir and Roland Ashby (photo courtesy: Jimmy Wormworth).
Jimmy don't remembers the bass player who was in the Lucky Thompson Quartet. It was not Pierre Michelot, I think that the bassist was another guy named Pierre; Pierre Fol, maybe? I really cannot remember. Jimmy has sweet memories to Kenny Clarke who played the drums: Klook was the drummer; it was his gig and he was there. He was not on holiday! I think Al said that Barney (Kenny Clarke used to play with Barney Wilen) was on summer holiday, like so many people in Paris in the summer. But, I’m not very sure of that. Jimmy sighs: So many of those people have died! I know that one night, after we sat in with Lucky (Thompson) and Nico (Bunink), we played "I Remember April". After we got off the bandstand, Klook ( = nickname for Kenny Clarke) said to come over to him and he was laughin and he gave me a kiss on the cheek, because he liked how I played that!! He said something to me, like, "Yeahhh, kid, you were playing great!!" I will remember that, for the rest of my life! Kenny Clarke told me that I was "playing great"!! (to be continued)
Thanks Jimmy and Faith for your kind support.
Tomorrow: Jimmy Wormworth: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris (1957)-part two
Hans Koert

Jimmy Wormworth had met Al Levitt, the New York drummer, in the summer of 1956 while playing at the Pia Beck Flying Dutchman in Scheveningen, the beach resort of The Hague and when Jimmy returned to Holland the next year he was invited to play with his group in Le Chat Qui Pêche Club in Paris, August 1957. Jimmy Wormworth, now in his 70s, remembers the inspiring Paris jazzscene of 1957. Tomorrow part two of his Parisian gig with his recalls to Dutch piano player Nico Bunink. The Keep Swinging blog loves to share with you Jimmy Wormworth's recollections about his first trip to Europe in 1956 and 1957, when he played in Holland and France. If you don't want to miss any contribution, follow this subject at Twitter (#keepswinging) or ask for the free Keep Swinging newsletter (

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(English links) Jimmy Wormworth: The 1956 Student Cruise Program stay in Holland - Jimmy Wormworth: The 1957 American Jazz Quintet in Holland - Jimmy Wormworth: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris (1957)- part one Jimmy Wormworth: The American Jazz Quintet in Paris (1957)-part two The American Jazz Sextet: The 1957 J. J. Johnson concert
Nederlandse link: Jimmy Wormworth: Het Studenten Cruiseprogramma en zijn verblijf in Nederland (1956) - Jimmy Wormworth: Het American Jazz Quintet in Nederland (1957) - Jimmy Wormworth: Het American Jazz Quintet in Parijs (1957)- deel 1 Jimmy Wormworth: Het American Jazz Quintet in Parijs (1957)- deel 2 Het American Jazz Sextet opent J.J.Johnson concert.

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