Our Man In The Hague


Good news for those who every year at the ‘requiem for the departed’ All Souls start to thinking again, ‘damn this pretty rare Dexter Gordon record keeps eluding me time and again…’. That particular record, All Souls, the live performance of Long Tall Dex with the Rob Agerbeek Trio in 1972, is reissued, newly remastered, on the Ultra Vybe label in Japan. Plus bonus track.

As one of many expatriates in Europe, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was a welcome guest at the European stages in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Not only did the Copenhagen-based progenitor of bop tenor sax and hard bop giant play festivals, he also participated in tours in little places across countries like The Netherlands. Here’s a fragment from a letter that Gordon wrote to friends in Denmark: “This tour is quite fantastic; we are traveling through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and France! It’s six weeks no, seven and I’m getting rich! Anyway, it’s very well organized and seems to be a success. For the most part I’m working with the same group…”.

From l. to. r: All Souls; Ultra Vybe CD; gatefold LP; Dexter Gordon’s bicycle race.

That band consisted of pianists Rein de Graaff and occasional substitute Rob Agerbeek, bassist Henk Haverhoek and drummer Eric Ineke. All Souls, with Agerbeek at the piano, was recorded on November 2, 1972 at the Haagse Jazz Club in The Hague, The Netherlands. Gordon is in excellent form. All Souls was reviewed in Flophouse Magazine in 2017, read the review here.

Eric Ineke once in conversation recounted to me the last time that he met Gordon at North Sea Jazz in the early ‘80s. Gordon waved and shouted, “S.O.S!”. Gordon did not mean that he was in clear and present danger, but instead added, “Same Old Shit!”. Long Tall Dex had style and humor. Ineke reflected that it was darkly humorous, because Gordon was getting more tired and burned out at the latter stage of his life.

Find All Souls on Ultra Vybe here. Distribution from The Netherlands is scheduled for this year. And good luck with the vintage vinyl hunt, of course.

Dexter Gordon All Souls’: The Rob Agerbeek Trio Featuring Dexter Gordon (Dexterity 1972)

The Dutch audience caught Dexter at one of those nights, in top form. The fortunate event in the fall of 1972 is documented on the 2LP All Souls’.

Dexter Gordon - All Souls'


Dexter Gordon (tenor saxophone), Rob Agerbeek (piano), Henk Haverhoek (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


on November 2, 1972 at the Haagse Jazz Club, The Hague, The Netherlands


as Dexterity ST 1-001 in 1972

Track listing

LP 1
Side A:
Some Other Blues
Side B:
LP 2
Side B:
The Shadow Of Your Smile
Jelly Jelly
Side B:
You Stepped Out Of A Dream

In a letter to his friends in Copenhagen from October 12, 1972, Dexter Gordon expressed his joy of touring the Continent with a regular Dutch trio: ‘Dear Folks, this is ‘den gamle rejsemusiker (the old traveling musician) letting the folks back home know that I’m ok and am defending the colors! This tour is quite fantastic; we are traveling through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belge and France! It’s six weeks no, seven weeks and I’m getting rich! Anyway, it’s very well organized and seems to be a success. For the most part I’m working with the same group… Hope everything is in order. Love, Absalon (Gordonson).’ (from: liner notes Fried Bananas, Gearbox 2017) Gordon referred to pianist Rein de Graaff, bassist Henk Haverhoek and drummer Eric Ineke, a superb trio that had been rapidly developing into one of Europe’s finest mainstream jazz units.

Another excellent pianist, Rob Agerbeek, also played regularly with the Sophisticated Giant. It is Agerbeek, together with Haverhoek and Ineke, who’s present at the Haagse Jazz Club on November 2, 1972, the Roman-Catholic All Souls, a night, the pianist describes in the liner notes to the album, he was unlikely to forget: ‘Why Dexter was at the top of his game that Thursday evening in November… I don’t know. But he was! Dexter was a bit languid from the Indonesian meal when we arrived at the club. I was afraid that it would turn out to be a routine job. But Dexter helped us out of the dream once he’d set in You Stepped Out Of A Dream! He was very inspiring. And the repertoire was diverse and a bit out of the ordinary. I had never played Stablemates up to then, although I kind of knew the chord sequence’. Dead honest Agerbeek. Indeed, on the recording one can just barely hear Agerbeek answer ‘I don’t know that one’ to Gordon’s call of the tune. The accomplished Agerbeek knew enough of it to deliver a fine performance. Before signing off with the quartet’s signatures, the Indonesia-born pianist proceeded to map out the chord progression matter-of-factly. (see below) Perhaps for passionate future stablemates to study.

It would be four years before Long Tall Dex made a great comeback in The United States. In Europe, where Gordon had been living since the early sixties, the tenor sax giant, largely responsible for translating the bebop language to the tenor saxophone two decades ago, having acquired the appropriately legendary status through his Blue Note albums of the early and mid-sixties, was highly acclaimed and in demand. His output of the last few years had been either stunning (1970’s The Panther) or excellent (1970’s The Jumpin’ Blues, 1972’s Ca’Purange and Generation). On stage, provided Gordon was relatively sober, he got going like few could. Unparalleled momentum.

What’s the secret of Dexter Gordon’s strong jazz personality? There always a certain mystique as to how jazz men and women transform their particular emotions and ideas from their instrument into the sounds for the audiences to enjoy. It’s part of the charm of that particular form of art and entertainment we call jazz. Evidently, Gordon’s sound is incredibly big and clear. He favors fat, sustained notes and builds long-flowing sentences, with only the occasional fast bop flurry of notes. He’s a terrific storyteller. I like to think of his stories as an ongoing rush of waves in the sea, new sensations seemingly coming from nowhere again and again, sensations that follow the preceding ones with natural ease. Moreover, Gordon plays lazily behind the beat, creating much tension. Dexter Gordon is also a humorous player who slyly and intelligently sprinkles his stories with quotes. Not to mention an unequaled giant of ballad interpretation. Gordon’s regular ride on the tonic, a tool that weakens the impact of solos by more inexperienced players, functions as the glue between his sentences in combination with his authentic sound, storytelling and time.

Obviously, both Stablemates and Some Other Blues, which fill the first LP of the album, offer abundant proof of Gordon’s unique attractiveness. Between them, arguably the former consists of Gordon’s greatest tale, while the latter sustains the most luscious hotbed of blues phrases. Stablemates is introduced comically by Gordon as ‘Benny Golson’s Stablemates… Stablemates… Stable Mable, keep your elbow off my table…’. Gordon, firing on all cylinders, is duly stimulated by the rhythm section. Henk Haverhoek is grooving relentlessly, Eric Ineke peppers Gordon’s strong-muscled tales with well-placed, propulsive bass drum and cymbal accents. During the trio’s hard-swinging moment of truth, Rob Agerbeek’s solo bears the mark of Horace Silver’s wise motto of meaningful simplicity, as he swings with clear, percussive lines, mostly in the middle register.

The way Gordon grabs a tune by the throat, in this instance John Coltrane’s Some Other Blues, is rather amazing. He dives headlong into a solo marked by constantly interesting combinations of blues phrases and poignant rhythmic variation, definitely an auditory hieroglyph for future generations to dissect and enjoy. Ineke’s probing and resourceful demonstration of cymbal crashes and press rolls and Rob Agerbeek’s surprising mélange of funky blues licks and sneaky dissonant cadenzas, add charm to the group’s take on Some Other Blues. Interesting choice of repertory, presenting further evidence to the well-known fact that, while Dexter Gordon influenced the young John Coltrane, he was also in turn inspired by Coltrane.

Supposedly, Gordon’s vocal performance of Billy Eckstine’s Jelly Jelly was meant as a breather, part hokum, part loose blues exercise. Johnny Mandel’s ballad The Shadow Of Your Smile brings the band back to serious business. At times heartbreaking, Gordon’s melancholic sentences stay close to the tune’s story of doomed love, which was written by Mandel for the movie The Sandpiper. It’s plainly superb. Last but not least, You Stepped Out Of A Dream is hard-driving, the immediate playful variation on the theme by Gordon suave and swinging. Again, Gordon stretches out, crossing the ten minute line, and never a dull moment. Indeed, All Souls captures Long Tall Dex at ease and in top form, and the Dexterity label’s one and only album release is a priceless document.

All Souls is only available on vintage vinyl. It’s about time for a CD and/or vinyl reissue of this important slice of Dexter Gordon and Dutch jazz, 45 years after the fact. Below is the link to Stablemates, released on drummer Eric Ineke’s album from 2017, Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players.

Update June 18, 2023: engineer Fred Colijn, who recorded Gordon at Haagse Jazzclub, passed away this week.

Reachin’ Out To Rob

ROB AGERBEEK/HANK MOBLEY – Just recently, the Dutch Jazz Archive released To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley In Holland. (See review here.) A great document that fills the musical gaps of Mobley’s ten-day stay in The Netherlands in 1967. A big part of the CD is dedicated to Mobley’s gig at Rotterdam’s club B14 with the Rob Agerbeek Trio. More than enough reason to get in touch with veteran hard bop, boogie-woogie and swing pianist Rob Agerbeek and ask about his recollections with the revered tenor saxophonist.

FM: How did that gig came about?
RA: I got a call from a small-time impresario, Wim Johan Kuijper, who asked me: ‘Do you want to play with Hank Mobley? ‘ I said, ‘that’s a silly question! Of course!’

FM: It must’ve been quite something to meet Hank Mobley before the show.
RA: I expected a big, impressive cat, you know. But he was just a young guy. It was a beautiful day, late Winter, early Spring. I was there with my wife. He strolled into the place, threw his horn case into the corner. He asked me, ‘where you from?’ I said: ‘The Hague.’ ‘No’, he said, ‘I mean, where you from?’ Then I got it. I explained that I was born in Dutch Indonesia. ‘Aha,’ said Hank, ‘that’s the place with the king who plays clarinet.’ Almost. ‘No,’ I said, ‘that’s Thailand.’

I was thinking, Jesus Christ, I better set my best foot forward on stage! But it turned out pretty well.

FM: It was a one-off trio, right?
RA: Yes. I hadn’t played with bass player Hans van Rossem. But I was familiar with drummer Cees See.

FM: Was the setlist discussed or did Mobley counted off the tunes on the spot?
RA: Basically, he called a tune and asked if that was ok. Very nice.

FM: The sound quality, quite logically, isn’t fantastic. But you can hear you’re a bed of roses for him, despite the fact that he sounds a bit fatigued as well. You were already a very accomplished player and, naturally, familiar with standards like Autumn Leaves and Like Someone In Love. Mobley’s Three-Way Split was a lesser-known affair. Oddly enough, it’s the swinginest tune!
RA: I knew that tune from the album with Andrew Hill on piano. (No Room For Squares, FM) Yes, Hank liked my playing, afterwards he invited me for a gig to Paris. Sometime later we played at the American School in Paris with Art Taylor, trumpeter Dizzy Reece and bass player Jimmy Woode. Mobley had a session in Paris and wanted me in on it. But Francis Wolff had already booked another pianist, Vince Benedetti. Mobley was rather peeved about being overruled. It turned out to be the album The Flip.

FM: At least now your cooperation with Mobley in Holland is preserved for posterity.
RA: O yeah, it’s a wonderful job by the Dutch Jazz Archive. I’m very honored. I also really like those tunes with the Hobby Orkest.

FM: Mobley in a big band setting, really surprising. The context suits Mobley very well, he’s in great form. It would’ve been really nice if Mobley would’ve done a big band album in his lifetime.
RA: Yes, absolutely. Well, early in his career Mobley did play in Dizzy Gillespie’s band, of course.

Find To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley In Holland here.

Hank Mobley To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley In Holland (Dutch Jazz Archive 2017)

To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley In Holland reveals a tenor saxophonist who may not display the kind of brilliance of his golden years in the late fifties and early sixties, but nevertheless remains a singular class act, especially in, surprise, a big band context.

Hank Mobley - To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley In Holland


Tracks 1-3: Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Pim Jacobs (piano), Wim Overgaauw (guitar), Ruud Jacobs (bass), Han Bennink (drums) Tracks 4 & 5: Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Ferdinand Povel & Sander Sprong (tenor saxophone), Piet Noordijk & Herman Schoonderwalt (alto saxophone), Joop Mastenbroek (baritone saxophone), Frans Mijts, Gerard Engelsma, Eddie Engels, John Bannet & Fons Diercks (trumpet), Rudy Bosch, Cees Smal, Bertil Voller & Erik van Lier (trombone), Frans Elsen (piano), Joop Scholten (guitar), Rob Langereis (bass), Evert Overweg (drums) Tracks 6-10: Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Rob Agerbeek (piano), Hans van Rossem (bass), Cees See (drums)


Recorded on March 20 at Theater Bellevue, Amsterdam (tracks 1-3), March 28 at VARA Studio, Hilversum (tracks 4 &5) and March 29, 1968 at Jazzclub B14, Rotterdam (tracks 6-10


as NJA 1604 in 2017

Track listing

Sonny’s Tune
I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
Twenty-Four And More
Blues By Five
Like Someone In Love
Veird Blues
Three-Way Split
Autumn Leaves

Expert jazz sleuthing. The Dutch Jazz Archive unearthed ten live and studio cuts from the quintessential hard bop tenorist’s sojourn in the Netherlands in 1968. I think to myself, what a wonderful hard bop world! Mobley was a heroin addict and when he was kicking the habit resorted to booze. The classic pit fall in an all too typical jazz tragedy. Convicted twice, risking a long prison sentence due to the American three-strikes-and-you’re-out-system, Mobley had good reason to bug out for the dug out. What better way than to cross the great pond. Contrary to belief, Mobley arrived in The Netherlands instead of the U.K., touring France afterwards, where he recorded The Flip, and, subsequently, the U.K. and Denmark. The package of the CD includes great photographs and detailed liner notes including memories of collaborators pianist Rob Agerbeek and bass player Ruud Jacobs. Mobley played live with Agerbeek’s one-off trio in Rotterdam’s club B14 on March 29, with the Pim Jacobs Trio including Ruud Jacobs and guitarist Wim Overgaauw at the Bellevue Theatre on March 20, and, another studio session, with the Hobby Orkest on March 28, an orchestra of Dutch luminaries that gathered irregularly, including Dutch bop veterans and talents Piet Noordijk, Ferdinand Povel and Frans Elsen.

In his indispensable book on the sidemen of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Hard Bop Academy, Alan Goldsher offers a hip baseball analogy to illustrate the brilliance of Hank Mobley, labeling him as a five-tool player, a rare breed of all-round excellence. Mobley ‘had killer chops. He had a silky tone. He could tell the hell out of a story. He was a smokin’ composer. And he could swing you into the ground. Five tools. Six, if you count the fact that he looked great on a record cover.’ How true. Mobley’s a legend that carved out a niche during the era of the towering giants Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. The ultimate ‘musician’s musician’ – Leonard Feather’s famous appreciation of Mobley as ‘the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone’ stems from 1960 – Mobley’s unspectacular style, unassuming personality and the fact that he never led a stable outfit perhaps prevented widespread public recognition. By 1968, media coverage of the ‘new thing’ and stars like Miles Davis overpowered attention for a more conventional player like Mobley. Short on publicity but a saint for European mainstream jazz aficionados. Sound and style-wise, Mobley’s tone, still relatively soft and, as Mobley himself defined it, ’round’, had more bite to it, while his slightly dragging beat and relaxed phrasing are ever-present. Mobley retained a good portion of his innate sense of logic and continuity but at the same time concentrated on staccato lines and had shopped at John Coltrane’s store of harmonic finesse. No summer sale there, top quality stuff all-year round.

In the live setting of club B14, Mobley also focuses on suspenseful chopped lines, but simultaneously on all-too drastic twists, turns and ad-libs, therefore drifting away from a long-lined, coherent tale. He sounds a bit fatigued. The discovery of the tapes from club B14 is a blessing, but one has to ‘read through the lines’ of the rather inferior sound quality. In general, Rob Agerbeek has the upper hand, expertly mixing modern jazz with the traditional legacy of blues and boogie-woogie in Miles Davis’ Veird Blues and Mobley’s Three-Way Split, which is the liveliest tune of the performance. On the other hand, Mobley’s work in the studio on March 20, the day Mobley stepped out of the airplane with a probable jet lag, is focused and marked by Mobley’s unique sense of rhythm and suave phrasing. The Pim Jacobs Trio is excellent, the full-bodied, walkin’ bass lines of Ruud Jacobs and Wim Overgaauw’s swift phrasing and delicate clusters of chords in Sonny Rollins’ Airegin are especially imposing. The most surprising features on To One So Sweet are Mobley’s two tunes with the Hobby Orkest, the only known recording of the tenor saxophonist with a big band. The band is lively, the arrangements are smart and Mobley, one of the kings of the hard bop quintet format, is all velvet, sensuality, glowing blocks of wood in the fireplace. Marvelous! Clearly, it’s unfortunate that no one came up with the idea of recording Mobley in a big band setting earlier in his career, nor would afterwards.

A swell idea. Like the idea of The Dutch Jazz Archive to prowl public and private vaults for Mobley material, which it acted upon superbly.

To One So Sweet Stay That Way: Hank Mobley In Holland is the fourth release in the Dutch Jazz Archive’s series Treasures Of Dutch Jazz, following releases of Boy Edgar, Ben Webster and Don Byas. You can order it on the website of The Dutch Jazz Archive here.