Scott Hamilton in Holland


In December 2023 I reviewed Live At De Tor by Scott Hamilton and the Rein de Graaff Trio, a great disc of a performance by the acclaimed and swinging tenor saxophonist from 2004. See here. That was a Japanese release by Timeless Records, which has now released Live At De Tor worldwide. Also on vinyl.

A good opportunity to reunite. Hamilton and his Dutch colleagues, the swinging, ever-dependable Dutch maestros Rein de Graaff on piano, Marius Beets and Eric Ineke on drums embark on a tour in The Netherlands that starts on April 19 in Eindhoven and ends at Bimhuis, Amsterdam on May 2. See below.

19 april 24 Muziekgebouw – Eindhoven;
21 april 24 Musicon – Den Haag;
22 april 24 Hnita Jazz Club – Heist op den Berg (Belgium);
24 april 24 Theater de Willem – Papendrecht;
25 april 24 SPOT – Groningen;
26 april 24 Theater Mystiek/De Tor – Enschede;
28 april 24 Tivoli Vredenburg matinee concert – Utrecht;
30 april 24 BIM Huis – Amsterdam;
1 mei 24 Nieuwe Kerk – Zierikzee;
2 mei 24 BIM Huis – Amsterdam;

Scott Hamilton & Rein de Graaff Trio

Find Live At De Tor on the website of Timeless here.

Eran Har Even Shorter Days (World Citizen Music Records 2024)


Shorter circuit? On the contrary.



Eran Har Even (guitar), Omer Govreen (bass), Wouter Kühne (drums)


in February 2023 at Roode Bioscoop


as World Citizen Music Records in 2024

Track listing

El Toro
The Big Push
One By One
Dance Cadaverous
Night Dreamer

It’s not exactly armageddon that is conjured up by guitarist Eran Har Even on his tribute to Wayne Shorter, the greatest composer of the post-bop era. No mistaking, dark and ominous clouds are rolling. Brown leaves are dancing on the cobblestones like gypsies wandering over the moorland. Occasionally, the world is upside down, its blue and green resembling the colors of the head of someone who has been hanging out of the saddle of his horse on his way to the illusion of Eldorado. There’s tenderness and melancholy, a tear of sorrow, a tear of joy. This is how it should be on a record of Wayne Shorter compositions.

There is no piano to back up Even, an Amsterdam-based, Israeli axe man who played with Benny Golson, Gilad Hekselman, Jasper Blom, Logan Richardson and is a prolific partaker in the Dutch scene. His broad sound scape makes up for this suavely and he’s filling the canvas with nifty combinations of single runs and off-kilter harmonies. The tight-knit and flexible duo of Omer Govreen on bass and Wouter Kühne on drums brings out the best in Even.

There is a mixture of deceptive simplicity and challenging movements in Shorter’s compositions that is most appealing to jazz musicians, not least listeners. Obviously, Eran Har Even thoroughly comprehends the Shorter Book and re-created it to make an appealing piece of his own, whether it’s the stormy version of Lost or the lesser-known Capricorn, which swings freely and bites its own tail like a snake. Interestingly, the Juju album or anthemic Footprints is absent. He did pick the classic Nefertiti from the Miles Davis period and Night Dreamer, a great album climax that mixes nocturnal New York shadows with the whirling winds of the desert.

Eran Har Even

Find Shorter Days here.

The Ghost, The King And I We Got Rhythm (Sound Liaison 2023)


Fresh tribute to George Gershwin. Seemingly impossible but that ain’t necessarily so.

The Ghost, The King And I - We Got Rhythm


Rob van Bavel (piano), Vincent Koning (guitar), Frans van Geest (bass)


on March 19, 2023 at MCO in Hilversum


as Sound Liaison in 2023

Track listing

It Ain’t Necessarily So
I Loves You Porgy
‘S Wonderful
I Got Rhythm
First Prelude (The Man I Love)
Second Prelude (The Blues)
Third Prelude

Giving credit where credit is due, pianist Rob van Bavel emphasizes the trio interaction that is seamlessly developed with bassist Frans van Geest and guitarist Vincent Koning, hence The Ghost, The King And I. (pun intented) It is in existence since 2008 and has performed all over the world. We Got Rhythm, a celebration of the music of George Gershwin, is already the trio’s sixth release. A Gershwin tribute may seem a downtrodden path. Not in the hands of these Dutchmen, who recorded this album for a live audience in the studio in Hilversum.

Plenty originality. With a capital P. ‘S Wonderful is joyfully old-timey, wonderfulee one might add, a rendition that conjures up the ghost of Fats Waller, exceptionally executed and segueing into fluent swing. I Got Rhythm is a similar mix of pre-bop stylings and modernity, incorporating contrafact-king Charlie Parker in the lively process. While It Ain’t Necessarily So thrives on a funky beat, First Prelude (The Man I Love) presents a thoroughly enjoyable blend of classical devices and the blues. A sparkling introduction by Vincent Koning sets up the rhythmically upbeat, perennial favorite Summertime.

Over the years, 58-years-old Van Bavel has developed into a man of many trades. A veteran of Woody Shaw and Johnny Griffin outfits and the exciting Jarmo Hoogendijk/Ben van den Dungen Quintet, he has been part of the hard-bopping Eric Ineke JazzXPress for years now. At the same time, he also rearranges classical pieces with his son Sebastiaan, also an acclaimed pianist. In the business, Van Bavel is known as that rare tickler of the eighty-eighty keys that, regardless of the condition of the piano, always tears it apart unfazed.

Studio 2 harbors a fine piano and Van Bavel relishes the occasion. His lines are crystal clear, oozing with exceptional technique that is never demonstrated for virtuosity’s sake. Hearing all that stuff, his melodic construction work of simple riffs, bluesy trillers, beautiful baroque harmonies, locked hands-playing, bass commentary on the right hand-phrasing, all this leading to a perfectly logical climax, is an awesome experience. In fact, always an elation. Like watching the marvelous outpouring of lava from the Etna.

Both features of the prelude – its origins in improvisation as well as latter-day formality – are explored by The Ghost, The King And I. Third Prelude is simply sublime. An eleven-minute-long marriage of swing and rhapsodies, with Koning sounding somewhat like the great René Thomas, Van Geest typically driving the band with a warm tone and great feeling and Van Bavel indulging in high classical drama.The fluency they share between them is demonstrated like it’s nothing.

Gershwin would’ve undoubtedly admired the imaginative We Got Rhythm by The Ghost, The King And I, the cream of the European crop.

The Ghost, The King And I

Find We Got Rhythm here.

Scott Hamilton Live At De Tor (Timeless 2023)


Detor Ahead.

Scott Hamilton - Live At De Tor


Scott Hamilton (tenor saxophone), Rein de Graaff (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


on December 3, 2004 at De Tor, Enschede, The Netherlands


as Timeless 47448 in 2023

Track listing

Rhythm Riff
Easy To Love
Old Folks
After You’re Gone
Pennies From Heaven

Iremember buying Hamilton’s The Grand Appearance not too long ago, one of his first records featuring Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan. I was struck again by his beautiful sound and authentic conception. Back then, in 1979, the tenor saxophonist was quite the sensation in the jazz realm, a cat that seemingly came out of nowhere to conjure up the spirits of Lester Young, Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. His association with Roy Eldridge and Benny Goodman kickstarted a fruitful career on both sides of the Atlantic and in jazz-crazed Japan and South Korea.

Hamilton always relied on the best rhythm sections in Europe, notably the Rein de Graaff Trio. (Coincidentally, Hamilton gigged in Holland just last month with another good group featuring bassist Hans Mantel and drummer/vibist Frits Landesbergen) Proof of Hamilton’s excellent pairing with the De Graaff Trio is 2013’s Live At The Jazzroom in Breda. Live At The Tor in Enschede is a great follow-up featuring the same group with drummer Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke.

To be sure, it is actually a prequel, recorded in 2004 at one of the finest and longest-running clubs in The Netherlands, far away from the central Western area of Dutch jazz, close to the border of Germany. The band is captured in full glory, courtesy of bassist/engineer Marius Beets.

Eric Ineke says: “With a great swinger like Scott you have nothing to do except for laying down a light swinging carpet. But as easy as it seems it is never boring because Scott is always interactive. He has a choice of the best standards and he knows so many tunes. The audience loves him.” (The Ultimate Sideman, FM)

Appropriate. And he has a sound as enjoyable as a bite of the best Shepherd’s Pie in the vicinity, phrasing as satisfying as a stroll through the streets of Siracusa. Evidently a joy to back up, as one can hear on Live At De Tor. Hamilton and his men dig up Easy To Love, Old Folks, Tangerine, After You’re Gone, Pennies From Heaven and relish Hamilton’s own variation on I Got Rhythm, named Rhythm Riff. De Graaff’s rock solid trio is perfect foil for Hamilton, who keeps ‘traditional’ things interesting with abundance of ideas and balanced story developments from warm showers to boiling point.

A couple of spoilers: Rhythm Riff and After You’re Gone have a jubilant Kansas City vibe. Tangerine showcases De Graaff’s beautiful long and bar-stretching lines. The audience feels inclined to join in with the lyrics of Pennies From Heaven, the album’s exquisite closing tune. Finally, Hamilton quotes I Got Rhythm three times throughout his performance on that winter evening in the ‘Far East’.

The latter’s an example of timeless playfulness during a top-notch live session of rather timeless mainstream jazz.

Scott Hamilton & the Rein de Graaff Trio

Find the Japanese release of Live At De Tor here. According to Rein de Graaff, Timeless will release it for the Western market in 2024.

The Pulitzers Honk Honk (Zip Records 2023)


Superfunky fellows from the Low-Lands are firmly in the pocket.

The Pulitzers - Honk Honk


Frank Montis (organ), Bas van der Wal (guitar), Phil Martin (percussion), Salle de Jonge (drums)


in 2022 at Epic Rainbow Unicorn Studio


as Zip 343 in 2023

Track listing

Side A:
Honk Honk
Sitting Duck
Sun Trippin’
Side B:
Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
Smack ‘Em
The Girthship
Booth Rider

The Pulitzers deal in old-school groove. A good thing that they didn’t choose an obvious retro band name like Grease Machine or Chicken & The Dumplins. The Pulitzers sounds just right. Touch of class. What’s with Pulitzer? A luxury train coach? No, that’s Pullman. An automobile? Can’t seem to remember but it’s very likely. After all, the sleeve from their debut album Honk Honk shows one car trying to pass another on the highway.

Turns out it’s none of the above. As Frank Montis says, “We were Spark but that doesn’t sound very original. Then Salle said, ‘we gotta have sumpin’ like The Pulitzers or sumpin’ like that.’

Well done. At any rate, The Pulitzers are young veterans of the Dutch scene, organist Frank Montis, guitarist Bas van der Wal, percussionist Phil Martin and drummer Salle de Jonge. Even better than picking a good name, and more importantly, they invested all their expertise and soul into a real good’n and offer a variety of spices with a modern sound all their own and plenty ear for detail.

As taste and detail go, take Smack ‘Em, a bonafide homage to The Meters, a sassy tune and monster groove. Salle de Jonge not only perfectly carries over the history of jazz funk drumming to this day and age but here also reproduces the “primitive” New Orleans sound of the snare drums. All the renditions of original tunes by The Pulitzers (old warhorse Don’t Get Around Much Anymore is the only cover) are great too because they are both firmly in the pocket as well as marked by killer solos.

Honk Honk is a powerful uptempo burner that highlights the guitar work of Van der Wal, a great mix of Grant Green and Melvin Sparks. Montis, the hottest ‘bluesjazz’ organist for miles and miles around, puts his heart and soul, not to mention exceptional chops, into a mere minute of Hammond B3 variations.

Pay attention as well to how The Pulitzers rock The Girthship and Montis teasingly provides high-pitched backing to Van der Wal and subsequently takes center stage on a similarly spirited note. This type of hard funk is alternated with supple, slick soul, the kind of sensual or sexual healing force that should push many a romantic rendezvous in the living room or bedroom to a well-deserved and pleasurable climax.

If there would be something like a Pulitzer Prize for soul jazz, there is no doubt as to who should be the Dutch nominee.

The Pulitzers

Find Honk Honk at Frank’s place here.

Cuber On Camera


The late baritone great Ronnie Cuber was a popular guest in European studios, clubs and on the continent’s many festivals. Here are some pictures from the Skeppsholmen festival in Stockholm in 1990 from the collection of Jan-Erik Karlsson.

Jan-Erik Karlsson is a Swedish jazz fan and major collector. He also took a lot of pictures in clubs and during festivals like the Skeppsholmen festival in Stockholm. We got to talking when he put one photograph of Ronnie Cuber up on FB and kindly sent me a couple more from his private collection. Jan-Erik says that the year of Cuber’s performance in Skeppsholmen was probably 1990.

(Cuber and Jan-Erik Karlsson)

Thanks, Jan-Erik!

Ronnie Cuber

See many more pictures of jazz legends on one of Jan-Erik’s Instagram pages here.

Ronnie Cuber Memorial Service


Legendary baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber passed away last year on October 7 at age 80. A memorial service is held at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan, New York City on October 16.

Spearheading the Latin movement with Eddie Palmieri? Playing on Paul Simon’s Graceland? With Aretha Franklin, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa? Epitomizing jazz funk with George Benson and Lonnie Smith? Setting the standard of slick groove stuff with The Gadd Gang? Whodunnit? Ronnie Cuber did all of this, and then some.

First and foremost, Cuber was one of the greatest jazz players on the baritone saxophone. Hard bopper with a huge gritty sound, Brooklynite that worked his way up from Marshall Brown’s Newport Youth Band to a career that found him working with Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Barry Harris, Lee Konitz, Randy Brecker, Horace Silver, Joey DeFrancesco, Rein de Graaff, Gary Smulyan and many others. Not to mention, Cuber played mean tenor, soprano, clarinet and flute and composed lasting songs as Arroz Con Pollo.

His last appearance on a record release, Center Stage, a cooperation with the WDR Big Band, Eddie Gomez and Steve Gadd, was nominated at the Grammy Awards for Best Large Jazz Ensemble in 2022.

The service, featuring many musicians that Cuber played with, is organized by Roberta Arnold, Jazz Foundation Of America and Saint Peter’s Church. Live streaming here. Find tickets below.

Ronnie Cuber

Find tickets here.

Ronnie Cuber Memorial