The real thing


We heard from guitarist Jack Kinsella, a fine straightforward jazz guitarist from The Hague, The Netherlands, who also plays in the positively charming country band The Good, The Bad & The English. Kinsella uploaded a couple of rare tunes from The Real Thing session from tenor saxophonist Houston Person featuring guitarist Grant Green and organist Brother Jack McDuff.

Of course, all participants are the grooviest, but as a guitarist, of course Kinsella is specifically interested in ‘hero’ Grant Green, also a Flophouse Favorite as everybody who trespasses the premises frank and free is well aware of. In the early 1970’s, Grant Green had moved from New York City to Detroit. The most prolific artist of Blue Note in the early 1960’s, even eclipsing chart magnet Jimmy Smith as far as number of sessions is concerned, he gradually vanished from the scene in the mid-1960’s, largely due to his addiction to narcotics.

Green returned at the end of the decade, inspired by his feature on organist Reuben Wilson’s Love Bug and, with strong support of Francis Wolff, set up a new career as jazz funk guitarist. Green made a series of great albums, revered nowadays as jazz funk classics by aficionados (though there always has been a strong segment that considered him a sell-out to real jazz at this point) and good sellers. Although Green remained quite frustrated at not having reached the kind of fame like Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery, who had passed away in 1968 after a run of extremely successful commercial albums.

Green was recently divorced and bought a house in Detroit. Motor City had always been a place where black people, secured of regular jobs in the automobile factories, owned more homes in general than elsewhere in the USA. Motown had left to Los Angeles but people still appreciated good ‘n’ groovy black music. One of the centerpieces of action was Watt’s Club Mozambique. How great the atmosphere and music was at this club can be heard on organist Lonnie Smith’s Live At Club Mozambique (recorded in 1970) and Green’s Live At Club Mozambique, (recorded in 1971 and also featuring Person and Muhammad) both ‘previously unreleased’ Blue Note albums from, respectively, 1995 and 2006.

Green was a regular musician on the stand of Club Mozambique. Another album, The Real Thing, by the great tenor saxophonist Houston Person, a double LP, was recorded in March 1973 and released the same year on Eastbound. It featured, in different line-ups, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, organists Brother Jack McDuff and Sonny Phillips, bassist (and Motown ‘Funk Brother’ legend) James Jamerson, drummers Idris Muhammad and Hank Brown and singers Etta Jones and Spanky Wilson. A solid album of pop, funk, blues and ballads. Listen to The Ohio Players’s Pain here.

Green appeared on five tracks on the official release. Kinsella found a bonus track on a compilation CD, Lester Leaps In, listen here. Great to hear Green, McDuff and Person in a straight-ahead mode. Next, Kinsella uploaded the funky Grazy Legs from the CD version, better quality than the vinyl rip, listen here.

Kinsella also mentions an upload from Big John Patton’s Blue John album featuring Grant Green from 1963, only released on CD in Japan in 2004, five bonus tracks including Green’s Jean de Fleur, five months before Green’s recording on his seminal Idle Moments, listen here.

Green is beautiful.

Daan Herweg In Search Of The Lost Chord (Key Element 2024)


As they say, it’s not about the goal, it’s the journey to it that counts.

Daan Herweg - In Search Of The Lost Chord


Daan Herweg (piano), Lorenzo Buffa (bass), Jeroen Batterink (drums), Suzan Veneman (trumpet), Matthias van den Brande (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone)


at Key Element Studio in 2023


as Key Element Records in 2024

Track listing

Cloud Cathedrals
Until My Muse Comes Along
In Search Of The Lost Chord
Onderweg Naar Bloemfontein
Promenade (Patches Of Sky)
Symphony Of Loose Ends

We were sitting in the garden, tired and a bit apathetic. A woodlouse crawled under a plant pot. Two ants were carrying a sliver of sawdust to the patch of lavender. It was like a little shell on their backs. It fell to the ground. They painstakingly picked it up and resumed their path.
“Sisyphean task,” I said.
“This is our life,” my wife said.
“At least we can skip the zoo.”

Who knows which events sparked the imagination of Daan Herweg when he decided to give a tune on his new album the title of Sisyphus. In Greek myth, the naughty and cruel king Sisyphus, among other assorted misdemeanors, accused Zeus of getting it on with his daughter. The Gods got him in the end and forced him to carry a rock on his back on the hill on the island of Thanatos till the end of time. The myth was updated for the modern world by existentialist writer Albert Camus in the early 1940’s.

Herweg’s Sisyphus is an eventful trip, starting at a Latin-tinged up-tempo pace, a danceable feast, mixed with a Brubeckian, Blue Rondo A La Turk-feeling, developing into hard swing. It’s lithe but also dramatic. It might be that one moment his Sisyphus is fighting off demons but another moment is strolling down the boulevard with a lollypop between his lips.

Tyrion, which also originates in Greek mythology but perhaps is inspired by the myth-grabbing tv-series Game Of Thrones, is a playful Bach-tinged affair, enlivened by Matthias van den Brande’s supple embellishments on soprano sax. Finally, concluding this bundle of references, a word on the album title of Herweg’s 2nd album as a leader, In Search Of The Lost Chord. Remember The Moody Blues?

In his liner notes, Herweg says: “Often we don’t recall the moment we were blown away by the bright colors of a toy as a child. This can happen with music too. I remember as a kid stumbling onto chords at the piano without any prior knowledge being devastated by their beauty. Only later come music school, compositional class, day to day life and one sometimes loses that feeling as the rational brain comes in and takes center stage. Soon you will find yourself searching for that lost chord without even knowing it.”

Herweg is pianist first and foremost but also part of an indispensable jazz species: the jam session leader. He organized the weekly sessions on Monday at De Nel in Amsterdam for 15 (!) years, a playground for the scene that at one time even featured Brad Meldhau and Cory Henry. (Where the hell was I?)

On his personal search of the lost chord, Herweg’s group consists of bassist Lorenzo Buffa and drummer Jeroen Batterink, completed by saxophonist Matthias van den Brande. Trumpeter Suzan Veneman appears on two tracks. Eventfulness didn’t stop with Herweg’s mythical jazz excursions. For instance, he comes up with Until My Muse Comes Along, a Horace Silver-type smoker that displays the kind of sprightly piano playing that Nel regulars had grown accustomed to. South-Africa-inspired Onderweg Naar Bloemfontein could almost, but not quite, be defined as The Beatles’s Norwegian Wood put to jazz.

Quite exciting popfunkjazz bookends the program of Herweg’s newest release. Cloud Cathedrals finds Veneman in a melancholic, Miles-ish bag, Herweg in a contrastingly expressive mood. Symphony Of Loose Ends, one of myriad examples in contemporary music of jazz influencing Steely Dan and Becker/Fagen having impact on jazz in return, wonderfully and paradoxically, features two surprises in the guise of a polka intermezzo and lively trumpet/tenor exchanges.

Herweg wrote a batch of strong tunes. On Herweg’s sole cover, Leonard Bernstein’s Tonight from West Side Story, a solo rendition, his piano sounds slightly come from a distance, vaguely as if a shellac record is played on an old Victrola from the 1930’s. Nice touch.

Take notice. Herweg is a very accessible and lively ‘new old’ cat on the block.

Daan Herweg

Check out Daan’s website here.

Alvin Queen Trio Feeling Good (Stunt Records 2024)


Snappy and happy American-Swiss veteran runs the gamut from Tin Pan Alley to firmly rooted post-bop.

Alvin Queen - Feeling Good


Carlton Holmes (piano, synthesizer), Danton Boller (bass), Alvin Queen (drums)


on September 26-28 at Tedesco Studio, Paramus, New Jersey


as Stunt Records 24041 in 2024

Track listing

Out Of This World
It Ain’t Necessarily So
Waltz For Jamal
Bleecker Street Theme
Love Will Find A Way
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
Spartacus Love Theme
Feelin’ Good
Firm Roots
Send In The Clowns
Falling In Love With You
Someone To Watch Over Me
Three Little Words

Alvin Queen is reported as saying that for all their excellence he’d rather not record with celebrity jazz stars. Instead, intent on leaving egos at the door, he prefers to work with relatively unknown musicians that deserve wider attention. An admirable stance, though it’s saddening to realize that interesting star line-ups, that most everybody in the jazz realm will be able to imagine, will never see the light of day. The last half decade, Queen has stayed true to his words and released two Oscar Peterson tributes with bright young lions from Denmark and Sweden.

Here’s another one for the books. Drum legend Queen, whose life story reads like a jazz fairy tale, chronicled among others by Flophouse in two parts here and here, assembled pianist Carlton Holmes and bassist Danton Boller. No stars perhaps but, mind you, guys with impressive credentials. Holmes is an experienced musician that played with a diversity of greats as Lionel Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis and Diane Reeves. Boller was a pinnacle of Roy Hargrove groups and cooperated with Mulgrew Miller, Ari Hoenig, Steve Nelson, Robert Glasper, among others.

An excellent pairing. Whether the music is like stormy or sunny weather, or sweet or peppery soul food, the trio’s playing is marked by uncommon airiness. Jazz in its purest form, a mix of swing, melody and interaction, needs to breathe and Queen & Co, three guys that interact like kids jumping on a trampoline, know it all too well. Holmes’s touch is subtle and his lines flow gracefully from head to tail, abetted by the solid and lyrical bass playing of Boller and by Queen, Mr. Precision, dynamic and always a servant of the song and the ideas of his fellow jazz cats.

He’s still only 73, but it seems as if he’s been around forever. That’s because Alvin Queen was barely thirteen when Elvin Jones took him under his wing and he never looked back, a shoeshine boy on the streets of Manhattan that migrated to Geneva, Switzerland and the fruitful jazz realm of Europe, mingling with giants like Ray Brown, Sweets Edison, Guy Lafitte, not least enriching the classic piano trio format with Oscar Peterson and Kenny Drew.

It’s all the more fitting that Queen included Out Of This World and The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, classics that have arguably been re-invented most imposingly by the John Coltrane Quartet, with Elvin Jones behind the kit. Queen’s vivid cross rhythms and driving rolls markedly take those two standards to the next level. The former’s light-footed bossa coda is a nice touch.

Diversity and re-invention is key. Oldies like It Aint’ Necessarily So are turned into a shuffle, Someone To Watch Over Me into a lovely solo piano piece, contrasting nicely with an epic, impressionistic take on Send In The Clowns. Holmes adds a touch of mellow synth on Love Will Find A Way, taken from a 1977 album by Pharaoh Sanders. The meaty, Latin-tinged version of Feeling Good makes everybody happy no doubt, as will Cedar Walton’s Firm Roots, that starts with a stunning drum intro, mixing Afro-tones and Billy Higgins in thunderous fashion.

As you may have noticed, interesting repertoire. Brought back to life outstandingly by the latest installment of the Alvin Queen Trio.

Alvin Queen Trio

Buy Feeling Good here, here or here.

Vive La France


Who is this guy Percy France? That’s the thought that has gone through the minds of many jazz freaks no doubt when taking a look at or listening to Home Cookin’, one of organist Jimmy Smith’s many bestsellers on the Blue Note label. His name is on the sleeve and his excellent tenor playing is part of Smith’s solid waxed offering.

It turns that plenty people, and not just your average cat, knew where France was at, not least his fellow New York-born saxophonist, Sonny Rollins. This is because of the efforts of former journalist and jazz researcher Daniel Gould. I came into contact with Gould when I wrote a bit about pianist Eddie Higgins and he kindly gave me permission to quote from an interview.

Gould assembled almost every conceivable piece of information about the enigmatic Percy France and produced this excellent website – see here – giving credit where credit is due. Percy France (1928-1992) was a regular at Minton’s Playhouse when Charlie Parker et. al. created bebop. He spent years in the popular band of organist Bill “Honky Tonk” Doggett. In the 1980’s, France was an acclaimed if under-recorded part of the New York scene.

(Three albums featuring Percy France; the furthest Flophouse got to the story of France until Gould came along.)

Sometimes all it needs to make your jazz day is a fellow freak. At the time when Gould built his site, I interviewed pianist and organist Mike LeDonne and a side step in our talk revealed the surprising fact that he was acquainted and played with Percy France in the 1980’s. LeDonne is featured in Gould’s page.

A great job he’s done. Perfect to browse through while listening to some of the stuff that France is on. Vive La France!

Florian Mode


Gargantuan and mad to the point of magic. Only hyperbole is fitting to describe Conversations #1-#12 by Swiss drummer and composer Florian Arbenz.

Twelve installments of musical conversations with totally different line-ups, spread over nine record releases. The Basel-based Arbenz, a staple of progressive European jazz that worked with Bennie Maupin and Dave Liebman and a member of the well-known VEIN trio with his piano-playing brother Michael, started it in the summer of the ‘pandemic’ 2021 and recently concluded the massive project with Conversation #11&12: On! featuring the voice of Yumi Oto and the percussion of Jim Hart, among others.

The series features a radical variety of musicians, instruments and styles. Among others involved are trumpeter Hermon Mehari, bassist François Moutin, accordionist João Barradas, saxophonist Tineke Postma, pianist Kirk Lightsey, tuba player Oren Marshall, saxophonist Greg Osby, Hammond organist Arno Krijger and trombonist Nils Wogram. Certainly, this has meant a lot of organizing, writing, arranging, mixing and plugging. Quite a rare and courageous effort! All albums are recorded in Arbenz’s Hammerstudio in his hometown in Switzerland.

The artwork is beautiful. Its design is strikingly coherent and together with the music has made the Conversation albums very collectible among jazz lovers.

To add to the uniqueness of his concept, Arbenz included Eddie Harris’s avant-groove anthem Freedom Jazz Dance on every single session of Conversations. A challenging idea which led to intriguing, creative interpretations showcasing the various strong points of all concerned. Go to Bandcamp and find the streams. Listen, for instance, to this version with Kirk Lightsey. (better even, watch the video) Or this one, made into a fugue, with Barradas and Rafael Jerjen on bass. Or this version with Marshall and trumpeter Jorge Vistel and saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig. Finally, there’s the version with Osby and Krijger. Interestingly, I saw them perform it live in Paradox, Tilburg last November. On the spur of the moment, I was told afterwards, they unanimously decided to skip the theme, going for the gritty skeleton groove instead. That was something else.

Florian Arbenz

Find Conversations 1-12 on Florian’s Bandcamp page and buy the downloads or CD’s and vinyl here. Collectors that have completed #1 to #12 can get a box, contact Florian at Bandcamp.

Steve Nelson Trio A Common Language (Daybreak 2024)


Doing a Double Nelson.

Steve Nelson Trio - A Common Language


Steve Nelson (vibraphone), Joris Teepe (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


on October 23, 2023 at De Smederij, Zeist


as Daybreak 802/3 in 2024

Track listing

Bag’s Groove
Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise
Body And Soul
I Hear A Rhapsody
My Shining Hour
I Thought About You
Star Eyes
Oh, Lady Be Good
Embraceable You
Well, You Needn’t
Up Jumped Spring
Lover Man
I Remember April
Satin Doll

“There’s no telling what we’ll play in the second set,” bystanders overheard bassist Joris Teepe say at the CD-release concert of A Common Language by the Steve Nelson Trio at De Pletterij in Haarlem on April 1. Among others, it turned out, they played a lush version of ‘Round Midnight and a gritty jump blues take on Frankie And Johnny, both made up on the spot and not presented on the American vibraphonist’s first album on the Daybreak imprint of Timeless Records.

Steve Nelson, preeminent 69-year-old vibraphonist and past associate of Dave Holland and Mulgrew Miller, is an invitee of ‘Dutch New Yorker’ Teepe, who as artistic advisor of the Prins Claus Conservatory of Groningen regularly brings his American connections to his home country. The trio is completed by veteran drummer Eric Ineke, pinnacle of Dutch jazz that played with a who’s who in jazz from Dexter Gordon to Jimmy Raney and Eric Alexander to Tineke Postma.

On stage, the quiet and reserved Nelson says: “I like to play with everybody, young and old, but with these guys… (sighs). They are so experienced and know exactly what they are doing.” And then some. It is quite a team, full of interaction and balanced energy. Especially from playing a bit more together the last few years than in the past, the Teepe/Ineke tandem has become particularly tight-knit and flexible, Teepe’s way of making the music breathe quite phenomenal and Ineke’s succinct questioning-and-answering typically steady, dynamic and vivid.

All this is in evidence on the appropriately titled 2CD-set A Common Language. Fifteen standards, no less, and Nelson must have felt like a kid in a candy store, relishing the various melodies and changes of iconic tunes, and like a counterfeit passenger on a magic carpet, enjoying the ride with his top-rate colleagues from the Low-Lands. Whether it’s Bag’s Groove of Nelson’s iconic precursor Milt Jackson, De Paul/Raye’s Star Eyes, two standard ballads Embraceable You and Lover Man, or swing anthem Oh, Lady Be Good, Nelson is on a constantly creative level, pouring out vivacious and flowing lines like a tap dancer that’s swinging in the rainy streets of Storyville.

This set, indeed, is a city of versatile stories. Relentless trio drive marks Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise, while I Thought About You moves ever-so-slowly in a good groove, a version that is kickstarted by a gorgeous introduction on the vibraphone and finds Nelson in a pensive mood, as it were, in deep thought like Socrates on a rock on the Olympus. The slapping rockabilly bass of Teepe spurs on Monk’s Well, You Needn’t, which also includes one of Teepe’s finest solo spots.

It may not be, as stated in the liner notes, the first-ever album of vibraphone, bass and drums – rare as it is, at least there’s Khan Jamal’s 1986 Steeplechase album The Traveler that has explored this territory before. But it is an undeniable truth, as Ria Wigt from Timeless Records pointed out on stage at De Pletterij, that A Common Language is one of the best career efforts of the number one vibes player of his generation, with more than a little help from his exceptional Dutch friends.

Steve Nelson Trio

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.