Double Dutch Delight


You get these bands from the past, when one mentions them to the other, the eyes of both jazz fans start to glow like coals on the barbecue. The Ben van de Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet was that kind of band. In the mid-1980’s, jazz could use a bit of spice and tenor saxophonist Ben van den Dungen and trumpeter Jarmo Hoogendijk had the right ingredients. The quintet further featured pianist Rob van Bavel. Initial bassist Anton Drukker and drummer DrĂ© Pallemaerts were followed-up by Harry Emmery and Eric Ineke, who were there until the end in 2004.

This band was belching up vitamins. While contemporaries The Houdini’s (also a kind of ‘glow eye’ band) focused on no-nonsense hard bop, the Ben van den Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet veered towards progressive post-bop, the kind that was kick started by John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner and further developed by Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Clifford Jordan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton etc. The contrast between the buoyant Hoogendijk and driving but more introspective Van den Dungen was one of the band’s main assets. Another asset was the fact that all members were strong personalities. The young Rob van Bavel, nowadays one of the great European pianists, was a very dynamic player. Drummer Eric Ineke was a middle-aged veteran who had played with a who’s who of classic jazz including Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin and had a distinct, explosive and subtle style that incorporated Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Billy Higgins, Louis Hayes etc.

Not only did the quintet duly revive the scene and influence the next generation, it also left its mark as a superb booking machine. Van den Dungen and Hoogendijk managed themselves and hung on the phone longer than the average call center employee from Their energetic DIY spirit resulted in a busy schedule in the region and internationally, climaxing with successful tours with Cindy Blackman and in Canada.

Eventually, Hoogendijk, also known for cooperations with Rein de Graaff, Charles McPherson, J.J. Johnson, Teddy Edwards, Afro-Cuban band Nueva Manteca and many others, unfortunately had to give up playing because of embouchure problems in 2004, a real loss for jazz. Since, Hoogendijk has been an influential teacher at the conservatory of Rotterdam. Van den Dungen has always been very active, both in small hard bop ensembles and world music-oriented big bands as Nueva Manteca and Tango Extremo. He recently released Live At Lux & Tivoli, a Coltrane tribute that features old pal Eric Ineke.

Last week Ben van den Dungen posted a YouTube link on Facebook from his late quintet, footage from the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1996, see here. It’s a great example of the quintet’s flair, virtuosity and contagious energy. It complements older footage from the same date, see here.

The Ben van den Dungen & Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet was the cream of the crop and these guys were on par with the so-called new heroes of Neo-Bop from the USA like Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Branford Marsalis, James Carter, Wallace Roney et al. During their existence, the Ben van den Dungen & Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet released four records, starting with 1987’s Heart Of The Matter and ending with 1995’s Double Dutch.



They used to call it “scufflin'”. I remember reading about tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks, virtually unknown during his lifetime but posthumously heralded as one of the finest hard bop saxophonists of the sixties on the strength of his Blue Note records and side dates. Colleagues remember seeing the disheveled saxophonist at some corner bar, ‘scufflin’ for small change.

Times have changed, circumstances differ. But almost every musician knows the meaning of scufflin’.

In my country of origin, The Netherlands, there is a subsidy system. It is in need of revision, perhaps ever since it was started amidst the “battle” of avant garde and tradition in the 1970’s. There’s a problem at the heart of the system and that is bureaucracy. Firstly, musicians have to submit plans more than a year in advance but only 25 percent of submissions are granted. Secondly, there always have been doubts about the way membership of the subsidy commission is organized. Who makes decisions? Either colleagues or non-musical bureaucrats. It’s problematic.

Moreover, the Dutch government cut back on its cultural budget since the ’10s, which hit the jazz world hard. Clubs disappeared or had trouble paying musicians a decent contribution, which is often below the legally determined minimum wage. Conservatories spit out myriad graduates looking for work that isn’t there… The pandemic, obviously, has major negative effects as well.

Nationaal Podium Plan intends to better circumstances for jazz and world musicians. The initiative has been in the makings for a couple of years, instigated by, among others, saxophonists Ben van den Dungen and Alexander Beets, cultural entrepeneur Oscar van der Pluijm and Sena’s Anita Verheggen. It is supported by Kunstenbond, Toonkunstenaarsbond and Sena, representative organization for musician’s wages.

Van den Dungen commented on the plan in De Volkskrant on May 31. “All the musician has to do is sign in and propose a project in cooperation with the platform. Evidence that the performance has actually taken place is a prerequisite. The platform has to pay at least more than half of the minimum wage of 265 Euro. The rest is taken care of by Sena.”

Ben van den Dungen
(Ben van den Dungen)

There are other requirements. The grant is meant for platforms and artists that do not structurally receive subsidy. The group is required to have been in existence for at least a year with a minimum of six concerts under its belt. Point of it all is a cut on paperwork and sincere criteria.

Oscar van der Pluijm in Jazzradar: “The most important thing is that this plan helps to bring musicians to play at new spots. It doesn’t matter if they’re renovated churches or farm sheds or living rooms. Aficionados organize concerts all over Holland. They’re under the radar. We can support them and at the same time take care of a decent wage for the musicians.”

Jazz church
(Jazz church)

It is interesting to see how this thoughtful plan will evolve the coming year, not only from a jazz and world point of view. Pop music will most likely be included before the end of this year. Similar art forms and cultural endeavors should take note, as the plan challenges the idea of ‘commissioned’ grants for ‘winners that take all’.

Check out the website here.