PORGY & BESS – Good clubs are a blessing for jazz musicians and, as a consequence, for the audience. Professional equipment, a fine-tuned piano, supportive management and atmosphere are all part of the attraction. Porgy & Bess, the famed jazz venue in Terneuzen, The Netherlands, which celebrates its 60th birthday in 2017, scores way above average. The passionate and welcoming handling of affairs by the team built around general manager Maja Lemmen, who has been associated with Porgy & Bess almost from the start, and the warm-blooded atmosphere are something else. Musicians from all over the world love to perform at Porgy & Bess.
Porgy & Bess was founded in 1957 by the Suriname-born Frank Koulen, who had arrived in Dutch Flanders with the Allied Forces in 1944. It started out as a tearoom but soon staged dixieland, and later on, modern jazz. Koulen, who passed away in 1985, was famous for organising street parades, a novelty in Holland. Porgy & Bess has hosted concerts by Chet Baker, Arnett Cobb, Don Byas, Art Blakey, Benny Golson, Ray Brown, Horace Parlan, Cedar Walton, Phil Woods, Lou Donaldson, Nat Adderley, Lee Konitz, Cecil Payne, Ray Bryant, Toots Thielemans, Philip Catherine, Christian McBride, Danilo Perez, Diana Krall and many others. Simultaneously, Porgy & Bess is a cultural institution that also stages roots music, classical music matinees and literary readings.
Porgy & Bess started off its year of celebration with the return of Porgy regular Roy Hargrove on January 14. In April, festivities continue as Porgy & Bess organizes a Mini Anniversary Festival. On April 20 the Dutch guitarist Anton Goudsmit performs with blues singer Phil Bee, on April 21 Ambrose Akinmusire, one of America’s greatest young trumpet players, performs with musicians from the Conservatory Of Antwerp, April 22 will see a cooperation of the Dutch pianist Bert van den Brink and the Greek pianist/singer Maria Markesini, and on April 23 the Belgian writer Tom Lanoye will mix jazz improv with literature.
For info and tickets, go here.
For my interview with general manager Maja Lemmen, go here.
Photography above: eddywestveer.com