Herman Schoonderwalt The Winner (NJA 2017)


Herman Schoonderwalt’s album The Winner just sold over a couple of hundred copies in 1964, backed poorly by the Philips label. It has now been re-issued by the Dutch Jazz Archive and has found its proper place among the milestones of Dutch jazz.

NJA, 2017
NJA, 2017


Herman Schoonderwalt (clarinet 1-4, 10, 13, alto saxophone 5-9, soprano saxophone 11, 12), Cees Smal (trumpet, flugelhorn 5-8), Jan Vleeschouwer (trumpet 5-6), Rudy Bos (trombone 5-8), Tony Vos (alto saxophone 5, 6), Rudi Brink (tenor saxophone 5, 6), Harry Verbeke (tenor saxophone 5, 6), Toon van Vliet (tenor saxophone 9), Fred van Ingen (baritone saxophone 5-8), Rob Madna (piano 1-8, 13), Ruud Bos (piano 9), Jan Huydts (piano 10-12), Ruud Jacobs (bass 1-4, 9, 13), Jacques Schols (bass 5-8), Peter Trunk (bass 10-12), (Cees See, drums 1-13)


on December 20, 1963 (13) in Hilversum, May 11 (1,3), April 2 (2,4), April 13 (5-8), 1964 at Phonogram Studio, Hilversum and April 14, 1964 at Cinetone Studio, Duivendrecht and October 11 (10-12) in Hilversum


as NJA 1702 in 2017

Track listing

The Winker
Get Out Of Town
The Winner
I Loves You, Porgy
Ol’ Man River
Speak Low
My Plea
Thema Uit De Film “Mensen Van Morgen”
Visca l’Ampurda
Our Delight

Abeautiful, lighthearted tone on clarinet, a desire to fly off the rail gently or with an edgy twist on alto saxophone. Melodic finesse, sustained momentum and evenly developed sentences. The Dutch jazz audience knows Herman Schoonderwalt (1931-97) as one of the great musicians from the Low Countries. But that his 1964 album The Winner, which was recorded after Schoonderwalt won the Wessel Ilken Prize and has been a treasured collector’s item ever since, is that good will surprise more than a few people.

Schoonderwalt earned most of his money teaching and in show business, like so many European jazz men from the sixties and seventies, although Schoonderwalt did exceptionally well. Notwithstanding his extra-curricular activities, Schoonderwalt left an impression as an top-notch player to this day, a key figure in the influential Hilversum circle of straightforward jazz musicians who also played extensively in Boy Edgar’s Big Band and The Skymasters. The fifth in its series of Treasures Of Dutch Jazz, the Dutch Jazz Archive has done a wonderful job again, from the extensive, insightful liner notes to the remastering of the original master tapes from the Philips/Phonogram vaults. Heard in stereo for the first time, the various groups that Schoonderwalt used for The Winner and the bonus tracks (the icing on the cake consisting of Schoonderwalt and bassist Peter Trunk’s soundtrack to the Dutch movie Mensen Van Morgen as well as Schoonderwalt’s performance of Tadd Dameron’s Our Delight surrounding the festivities of the Wessel Ilken Prize) sound resonant and punchy, a real treat.

Schoonderwalt’s compadres are excellent, responsive. Pianist Rob Madna, drummer Cees See and bassists Ruud Jacobs and Jacques Schols stand out as top European cats, playing tastefully and passionately. And Schoonderwalt rises to the occasion, flowing fluently through, among other tunes, the I Got Rhythm-changes of The Winker, weaving tenderly in and out of the cushion-soft brass and reed sections that arranger Rob Madna provided for the Miles Davis gem Nardis and elevating the old warhorse Ol’ Man River to a probing mid-tempo cooker. Cole Porter’s Get Out Of Town is a highlight, Schoonderwalt’s sensitive and sizzling lines pick up the band for a thoroughly swinging ride and make abundantly clear that he was one of the finest practitioners on clarinet of his day.

A short while ago, just before the official release of The Winner, Flophouse heard alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman play the canny line of The Winker at club Pavlov in The Hague. A nice tip of the hat. Herman will be playing at a celebration of Schoonderwalt and release of The Winner at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis on December 17, which will also feature unseen footage and comments by longtime colleagues Ferdinand Povel, Jan Huydts and Schoonderwalt’s brother Rob. Recognition where recognition is due.

Find the album here.
And info about the December 17 CD Presentation here.

New Cool Collective Electric Monkey Sessions 2 (Dox 2017)


New Cool Collective is nearing its 25th anniversary and isn’t about to stop putting out classy, danceable albums either.

New Cool Collective - Electric Monkey Sessions 2


Benjamin Herman (alto saxophone), David Rockefeller (trumpet, trombone), Rory Ronde (guitar), Willem Friede (keyboards), Leslie Lopez (electric bass), Joost Kroon (drums), Jos de Haas (timbales, bongo, percussion), Frank van Dok (congas, percussion)


in 2017 at Electric Monkey, Amsterdam


as Dox 294 in 2017

Track listing

La Rana
Machu Picchu
Acapulco Gold
Ar Ping Talk

One album, 2017’s Featuring Thierno Koité, is still lukewarm and another New Cool Collective release has rolled off the assembly line. Electric Monkey Sessions 2 is the NCC’s 12th release in its 24th year of existence as the dance jazz band that alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman and friends founded in 1993. It’s also the sequel to the exotica set of 2014’s Electric Monkey Sessions, named after Kasper Frenkel’s studio in Amsterdam, where the album was recorded.

Eclecticism abound also on Electric Monkey Sessions 2, which comes as no surprise. Having said that, who could’ve been prepared for a tune such as Machu Picchu? A bubblegummy altpop tune consisting of a punchy backbeat, nifty keyboard line and probing reed and brass, it brings the ones who dig that stuff back to the music of acts from the early 00’s as Weezer and Tahita 80 and the ones who couldn’t care less about all this reference innuendo to the student pad y’all loved so dearly when you were forever young.

The contagious Skalypso, perfectly Doe Maar-ish in nature, would make an excellent follow-up to the single release La Rana, the uplifting cartoonish hook that opens the album. The smooth soul of Ar Ping Talk, the sensual, perhaps sexually healing Marvin Gaye-meets-Idris-Muhammad exercise of Acapulco Gold and Afro-Jazz jams like Lanakwa and Max (the latter based on a Max Roach rhythm pattern) have as a common denominator the group’s nonpareil rhythmic expertise.

Strikingly, Benjamin Herman’s commercially attractive NCC output and straightforward/avant-leaning jazz approach isn’t mutually exclusive, but rather re-enforces one another. Take Villachaize, the album’s exotic ballad and certainly a highlight, which reveals Herman’s liquid golden tone and heartfelt affinity with classic cats like Lou Donaldson and Johnny Hodges. Unbridled joy, bluesy romanticism. Electric Monkey Sessions 3 is probably not too much to ask.

Find streaming and download services here.
Check out NCC’s website here.
And the new video of La Rana here.

Sonny Clark Trio: The 1960 Time Sessions

SONNY CLARK – Great news, the independent Tompkins Square label has put out a 2LP, yes, vinyl, of Sonny Clark music. Sonny Clark Trio: The 1960 Time Sessions With George Duvivier And Max Roach is due out on November 24. It boasts several outtakes of Clark’s session at Bell Sound Studios in NYC in January, 1960, a session that would lead to the first album of compositions written solely by Clark. It preceded Blue Note’s Leapin’ And Lopin’, Clark’s swan song as a leader, also a recording that showed the fulfillment of Sonny Clark as a composer. The story of how this new release came about on Josh Rosenthal’s Tompkins Square label is surprising and has something to do with comedian Judd Apatow… Read an illuminating article on Sonny Clark and the new release by Nate Chinen of WBGO here.

Rein de Graaff 75

HURRAY – Pianist Rein de Graaff turns 75 years old today on October 24. During a career of 55 years, De Graaff has recorded more than 40 albums. Although the pianist recorded his share of outstanding avant-leaning jazz during the seventies and early eighties with the Rein de Graaff/Dick Vennik Quartet, he’s basically a champion of bebop and hardbop, playing in a style close to Barry Harris, Hampton Hawes, Horace Silver and Sonny Clark. With his Rein de Graaff Trio, the winner of the Boy Edgar Prize and Bird Award accompanied countless American legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt and Johnny Griffin. Many Dutch jazz fans fondly remember De Graaff’s Stoomcursus and Vervolgcursus Bebop from 1986 till 2012. As ‘Professor Bop’, De Graaff organized performances of American legends and unsung heroes as well as contemporary musicians all over The Netherlands, lecturing about the history of bebop and hardbop along the way. Musicians included Teddy Edwards, Lee Konitz, Al Cohn, Jimmy Raney, Charles McPherson, Houston Person, Harold Land, Clifford Jordan, Webster Young, Buck Hill, James Clay, Rene Thomas, Pete Christlieb, Eric Alexander, Vincent Herring, Jarmo Hoogendijk, Benjamin Herman and many, many others.

It’s not for nothing that the American legends and unsung heroes liked the accompaniment of Rein de Graaff. His comprehension of their language is unmatched and he adds typically fluent, sax-like phrasing, laid-back timing and responsive rhythmic variation. Besides, De Graaff is a thorough professional and organizer, which stands him in good stead during cooperations with contemporary colleagues to this day. A talent that might be explained by the fact that, for a big part of his career, De Graaff was also a businessman, running an electro ware wholesale company during the day.

De Graaff holds strong views about his beloved art form, dubbed ‘real’ jazz as opposed to ‘impro’, which may bear beautiful fruit but has nothing to do with the blues-drenched, swinging music that was created by black artists for black audiences, under dubious circumstances that somehow ring through. Circumstances De Graaff has been all too familiar with, sharing the stage of dingy NYC clubs with Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Elvin Jones as early as 1967 or sitting in with trumpeter Louis Smith in a rowdy all-black club in Detroit in the early eighties. In the view of the passionate torchbearer of mainstream jazz, this has become an endangered species, virtually extinct, yet the pianist remains on the look out for young lions whose playing retains a sense of the tradition and occasionally performs with the pool of talent still available in The Netherlands. Perhaps the ‘incurable romantic’, in the words of Lee Konitz, secretly hopes ‘real’ jazz will live to see the 22nd century.

Rein de Graaff: ‘Swing has become a dirty word.’ (Flophouse Magazine)

Rein de Graaff: ‘I approach the piano as if it’s a horn.’ (Jazz Journal UK)

Rein de Graaff: ‘The music I play comes from the smoke-filled clubs, where sex often was cheap, and the blues was heard…’ (Flophouse Magazine)

Rein de Graaff: ‘Oscar Peterson is the greatest pianist in the world, but he’s too bloody perfect for me. Boring.’ (Jazz Bulletin)

Rein de Graaff: ‘Evelyn Blakey asked me to open the door. My heart burst out of my chest. There was Hank Mobley. ‘Hi, I’m Hank,’ he said.’ (Flophouse Magazine)

See YouTube footage of Rein de Graaf below:

On fire with Clark Terry in 1975 also including Rogier Vanhaverbeke and Freddie Rottier here.

Boppin’ and burnin’ with his household friend, the bop poet and songwriter Babs Gonzalez in Paris in 1979 here.

Appearing on the Dutch tv show Gedane Zaken with Teddy Edwards in 1986 including Harry Emmery and Eric Ineke here.

An unforgettable performance of Charles McPherson in 1990 also including bassist Koos Serierse and drummer Eric Ineke here.

THE Dutch bop trio accompanying the great clarinet and saxophone player Eddie Daniels in Vrije Geluiden in 1995 here.

Playing Blue Bossa with David “Fathead” Newman and Houston Person in 1998 here.

Rein, Marius Beets, Eric Ineke and Grant Stewart do the wonderful ballad You Go To My Head in 2010 here.

The Rein de Graaff Trio with Gary Smulyan, John Marshall and Benjamin Herman, Charlie Parker’s Ornitology in 2017 here.

For Rein de Graaff’s interview with Flophouse Magazine, go here.

They Got Rhythm

REIN DE GRAAFF TRIO & GIDEON TAZELAAR IN CONCERT – Throughout the 50s and 60s, Haarlem in The Netherlands boasted one of the liveliest jazz scenes in the Dutch jazz landscape, churning out distinctive mainstream jazz players as Cees Smal, Harry Verbeke, Ruud Brink, Fred Leeflang, Ray and Dick Kaart. Drummer Eric Ineke, albeit a prototypical The Hague-ian hardbop cat for decades now, was born and raised in the city that gave its name to the famous cradle of jazz on the north side of Manhattan, New York. Authentic jazz gradually left the grounds of Haarlem, but now the Philharmonie strives to breathe life into the patient, organizing a series of diverse performances at the prestigious hall nearby the Grote Markt in the center of Haarlem. The monicker: Jazz At The Phil. The producer: saxophonist Yuri Honing.

The Rein de Graaff Trio plus a young lion on tenor saxophone, the 21-year old Gideon Tazelaar, kickstart the season into gear. During the season, Yuri Honing will provide short interviews on stage, but the highly acclaimed saxophonist is touring abroad so instead recorded the interview with De Graaff shortly before the event to be shown on the video screen that lights up the venue with a giant portrait of Rein de Graaff and the evening’s theme of ‘Boppin’ And Burnin’. Classy view! Unfortunately, bad sound quality prevents the audience from hearing the bulk of the interview.

No worries, pianist De Graaff, who turns 75 this month, is a seasoned master of ceremonies who introduces each tune in his own sweet, informative and level-headed way: the respectful way a jazz musician should treat its audience. De Graaff, elder European statesman of mainstream jazz who played with myriad legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Teddy Edwards, Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin and Dexter Gordon, and his two companions, including the equally distinguished Eric Ineke, are crackerjack providers of their customary recipe of ‘bebop, ballads and blues’.

This is the way it goes: beforehand De Graaff and the other gentlemen take a quarter of an hour to pick the tunes they feel inclined to play, easy does it, since the American Songbook has been in their bones for ages, and then some. A deceptively nonchalant method that makes a night of the Rein de Graaff Trio not so much a preservation of the jazz tradition, but more a passing on to the next generation, provided it’s receptive for the challenge. Innovative? Not really, but world-class and always blues-based and swinging. Besides, as De Graaff mentions during one of the audible fragments of the interview, how are you going to develop avant-leaning playing without a secure knowledge of the roots?

It’s the details that reveal the band’s cachet. So then you notice the melodic Q&A’s of Eric Ineke with De Graaff’s long-lined, Hampton Hawes-type story of My Melancholy Baby. And Ineke’s appreciative nods in response to Tazelaar’s high register, edgy wail and quote of Coltrane’s Blue Train during Dexter Gordon’s blues tune Stanley The Steamer. You realize that tenor, bass drum and toms are like brothers and sisters, share a frequency that tonight renders the usual second horn in the classic hard bop format obsolete.

There’s bassist Marius Beets to pay attention to. The successor to Henk Haverhoek and the recently deceased Koos Serierse for almost two decades now, a groover who strives, and most of the time succeeds, to find the right notes to play, the asset that one of his heroes, Ray Brown, is so famous for. And there’s the combined, hard-swinging effort from note one during the opening tune Topsy that must be a warm bath for the young Tazelaar. De Graaff’s poised statements, spiced by risky twists and turns high up the keys, cannot leave Tazelaar unperturbed. Oh, you hear him think, it’s gonna be such a night!

Tazelaar, the outstanding, rapidly developing talent who is currently studying at Juillard in New York City, charms the audience with a full-bodied, smoky sound and an alluring, slightly-behind-the-beat timing, particularly during the quartet’s mellow but driving medium-tempo groove of I Thought About You. He’s been turning into a mature structural improviser and sets fire to Cotton Tail, eating up the I Got Rhythm-changes, unfazed, perhaps stimulated, by the fact that, in 1940, Ben Webster graced the Duke Ellington tune with a stellar, genre-defining solo. Tazelaar’s relaxed posture and sly grin are infectious.

Topsy, Cotton Tail, Embraceable You. And My Melancholy Baby, which, De Graaff remarks, was already played during the ill-fated trip of the Titanic. The Rein de Graaff Trio and Gideon Tazelaar really went way back this evening. The repertory was boppified and burned expertly.

Rein de Graaff Trio & Gideon Tazelaar

Place and date: Philharmonie, Haarlem, October 14, 2017
Line-up: Gideon Tazelaar (tenor saxophone), Rein de Graaff (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)
Website: Eric Ineke.
Website: Marius Beets.

The Good-Natured Beast

ARI HOENIG QUARTET IN CONCERT – As an old friend from Twin Falls, Idaho always used to say: You can’t become Zappa just by ripping some flesh from a weasel. Meaning, of course, that in music, and this certainly applies for jazz, it is essential to have or find your own voice. Mission accomplished – summa cum laude – for Ari Hoenig. The 44-year old, American drummer, who recorded and performed with, among others, Chris Potter, Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock and Gerry Mulligan, is like a musical sponge. Yet every style Hoenig soaks up comes out Hoenig and 100% jazz, obviously as a consequence of the man’s astounding virtuosity, impeccable taste and striking energy.

So when you’re at a Hoenig performance – on October 3, Hoenig performed with his European quartet consisting of alto saxophonist Gaël Horellou, pianist Ettiene Deconfin and bassist Viktor Nyberg at club Pavlov in The Hague, The Netherlands – you’re bound to be baffled by the hodgepodge of passionate dedication to the roots of Max, Philly Joe, Elvin, Tony, Jack, classic rock drama and avant-leaning tendencies Hoenig provides. The atmosphere is electric, not unlike, you start to imagine, the vibes at The Five Spot several decades ago, when Ed Blackwell spurred on Eric Dolphy and Mal Waldron, and vice versa. Suddenly you’re convinced that Robert Wyatt has a brilliant nephew. And yes, when Hoenig cum suis opt for a relentless, metronomic krautrock beat-section, you feel that one of alt.rock band Wilco’s many interesting assets is incorporated effortlessly into Hoenig’s adventurous jazz conception.

He loves to tackle standards. Hoenig’s melodic drumming in Sonny Rollins’ Pent-Up House, accompanied by bass, is a sound to behold. The quartet’s version also includes breakneck 4/4 swing, fat-bottomed grooves and an old-timey, swing-y beat. Deconstructive beauty. The extremely powerful quartet is sensitive to each other’s needs, on top of its game, flowing smoothly through the complex structures. And joyfully, considering the most winning smiles Deconfin and Nyberg share during their straightforward, unison counterattack of Hoenig’s cross-rhythmic extravaganza of the Hoenig tune I’ll Think About It. The French/Swedish combo also blends well with Hoenig on his vigorous, long-lined ballad Alana, which also boasts exceptional brush-work by the leader.

At regular intervals during the show, there’s an ooh’ or ‘aah’, enthusiastic responses from the audience to a particularly clever or stunning break, roll or solo. Perhaps one or two of the many conservatory students present at the cozy 1st floor of Pavlov. Hoenig is a monster. A good-natured beast deeply involved in his game, full of life and laughter. Stacking rhythm upon rhythm, simultaneously pulling it to the max against the other gentlemen’s differing pulse, simultaneously shifting it with the bombs jazz-minded sixties legends like Ginger Baker or Jon Hiseman threw down, Hoenig’s kinetic performance of his original composition Lines Of Oppression is highly contagious. The skittish, uplifting theme brings to mind both Keith Jarrett’s Spiral Dance and the quixotic jazzy sides of Gong. The piece includes a sweeping pop-classical intermezzo.

It’s the opening tune of the evening and a big bang. The way shows should commence! Hoenig gathers momentum by the minute, alto saxophonist Gaël Horellou throws himself headlong into a tale of incredible force and swiftness, including moans, shouts and furious valve effects in his mind-boggling sax bag. A rare sight to behold, a player who climaxes early yet succeeds to sustain clarity of line, coherence and steam. Horellou’s profusely sweating, happy face regularly turns tomato-red.

The audience occasionally turns red, blue and green, but it’s not from suffocating, instead rather from enchantment. The Ari Hoenig Quartet is something else.

Ari Hoenig

Place and date: Pavlov, The Hague, October 3, 2017
Line-up: Ari Hoenig (drums), Gaël Horellou (alto sax), Ettiene Deconfin (piano), Viktor Nyberg (bass)
Website: Ari Hoenig.
Website: Gaël Horellou.
Find Ari Hoenig’s latest album, The Pauper And The Magician here.

Boss Guitarist

WES MONTGOMERY – Following the review of Wes Montgomery’s debut album on Riverside, Wes Montgomery Trio: A Dynamic New Sound, reader Toine Metselaar sent YouTube footage of an interview that the late great guitarist gave with Jim Rockwell of People In Jazz. It’s a delight to hear the laid-back, good-natured Montgomery talk candidly about his career, unique style and talented, unknown colleagues, among other things. The self-effacing Montgomery is overruled persistently by the talkative Rockwell, but it’s a revealing little interview nonetheless. Montgomery also performs with his brothers Monk and Buddy. The interview took place in 1968, meaning shortly before Montgomery’s tragic, premature death by a heart attack on June 15.

See Part 1 here.

And Part 2 here.

Wonderful additions to the familiar footage with Pim Jacobs Trio in The Netherlands and Montgomery’s delicious Full House on British television. British, thus as a logical consequence including a typically humorous intro.