DUTCH JAZZ – FERDINAND POVEL
Dutch luminaries conquered Café Hopper in Antwerp.
Ferdinand Povel (tenor saxophone), Rob Madna (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)
on May 31, 2000 at Café Hopper, Antwerp
as DBCHR75370 in 2007
How Deep Is The Ocean
Will You Still Be Mine
Stella By Starlight
The Touch Of Your Lips
As good as some concerts in big halls are and as good as the recorded evidence on wax sounds, there’s nothing like the atmosphere of the small club or café. Three Deuces. Birdland. Half Note Café. Lenny’s On The Turnpike. The Front Room. Boomers. And still going strong: Montmartre in Kopenhagen, Smalls in NYC. Over here in the Low-Lands there were places like Sheherazade in Amsterdam, B14 in Rotterdam, Persepolis in Utrecht, Pepijn in The Hague, Nick Vollebregt’s Jazzcafé in Laren. Way back when, the region was scattered with little spots that programmed jazz. Most of the places have disappeared. But there are some great new spots and some of the oldies are still around. De Tor in Enschede, Porgy & Bess in Terneuzen, Mahogany Hall in Edam, Paradox in Tilburg, Dizzy in Rotterdam, De Twee Spieghels in Leiden. When you hear a fluff or the choking of a valve you also witness the twitching eyebrow of the saxophonist and the chuckle of the drummer. You see the sweat running down the bassist’s neck. It’s live and lively.
Café Hopper in Antwerp, Belgium is a warhorse in existence since 1991. The beloved founder, bassist Mary Hehuat, sadly passed away last year. His sons had already more or less taken over business for a couple of years. Let’s hope that the place will continue their jazz programming. Between Low-Land icons as Toots Thielemans and local heroes, the little stage housed Lee Konitz, Nat Adderley, Wynton Marsalis and Brad Meldhau. In 2000, Hopper had typically booked a top-rate crew and presented tenor saxophonist Ferdinand Povel and the trio of pianist Rob Madna featuring bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke. Not conscious about all Ineke’s enormous output, the release was pointed out to me recently by the latter tireless ambassador of hard bop, prominent mentor of young national and international lions and lionesses at conservatories around the world.
“Ferdinand was on top of his form’”, said Ineke.
Check. On fire.
Let’s for once resist the temptation to start the discourse which explains that not everything from the United States is pure gold and that Europe, after initial startup problems, spawned a pool of major-league players in the 1950s-70s, whose excellence often surprised American legends and pros, who on rare occasions even were outstripped in the act of improvisation. Let’s totally set aside the fact that Europe learned jazz from the homeland and its implied minority complex and see if a piece of jazz is hip or not whether it’s from America, Finland or Korea or black, white or yellow.
Today’s listening pleasure is from The Netherlands and plainly outstanding. Povel came up in the late 1960’s and developed into one of the prime Dutch saxophonists. He spent many years in the big bands of Peter Herbolzheimer and The Skymasters and was guest soloist in prime national and international big bands but also freelanced with the likes of Maynard Ferguson, Philly Joe Jones, Dusko Goykovich and John Marshall. Madna (1931-2003) was one of the earliest high-level modern jazz pianists in the country in the 1950s and played with Phil Woods, Lucky Thompson and Freddie Hubbard. Ineke got on a roll in the late 1960s and 1970s as accompanist of Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin, among countless others. All have been influential mentors and teachers. Up to 2000, they had played and recorded with each other for decades, followed in their footsteps by ‘young’ bassist Marius Beets, who accompanied numerous artists with the Rein de Graaff Trio and is part of hard bop outfit The Eric Ineke Xpress.
They perform the boppish Madna tunes Sleepless City and Choctaw, and the standards How Deep Is The Ocean, Will You Still Be Mine, The Touch Of Your Lips and Stella By Starlight. Their rapport is evident and it all swings so smoothly like meandering rivers through the Alp valleys yet propulsive like a Lear jet. Close your eyes and listen to the tenor saxophonist and his long stories, brimming with ideas, never repeating himself but instead weaving one beautiful and logical line after another, bossy and soulful. His beat is slightly and pleasantly idiosyncratic, his sound is solid, burnished and punchy. Though he’s never roaring, there is in his playing a compelling urgency that challenges his rhythm section to come up with inventive goods. Above all, he’s controlled and graceful and particularly shines throughout Sleepless City and How Deep Is The Ocean.
Madna takes center stage with a sizzling rendition of Will You Still Be Mine. His refined restyling of Stella By Starlight is very enticing and underlined by subtle cymbal shadings by Ineke, who sets up a kind of floating time while locking in tightly with Beets at the same time. The tension builds, reflecting a great symphonic theme, that’s Stella by starlight and not a dream…
To boot, the sound is resonant and clear, courtesy of one Stephan van Wylick and this allows us to fully experience the typical pleasure of live barroom jazz. Just one night. But multiply and you have a life full of the real thing.
Live At Café Hopper is reissued on the Japanese Ultra-Vybe label.
Ferdinand Povel – Beboppin’ (Limetree 1983); YouTube link here.
Rob Madna – I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good (Omega 1977, featuring Eric Ineke); YouTube link here.
The Eric Ineke XPress – Dexternity: The Music Of Dexter Gordon (Daybreak 2016)
Listen to Good Bait, another good one by Povel with Rein de Graaff, Marius Beets, Eric Ineke and Pete Christlieb below on Spotify.