Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Newport '58: Babel Band's Birth

 July 1958: The International Youth Orchestra feat. Dutch bass player Ruud Jacobs at Newport 1958 - a recollection.
Rudolf (Ruud) Jacobs: 't Was fantastisch (= ..... It was great)
Hans Koert

A few months ago I found a Columbia lp entitled The International Youth Band - Newport 1958, directed by Marshall Brown - Recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival ( Columbia CS 8073). It's colorful cover made me anxious to the reverse, where I found an impressive list of names of musicians that featured the International Youth Band and made their names in the jazzscene, like Albert Mangelsdorff (1928-2005), Roger Guerin (1926-2010), George Gruntz (b. 1932), Gabor Szabo (1936-1982) and Dusko Gojkovic (b. 1931) and ... above all ..., the name of a Dutch bass player: Rudolph (sic) Jacobs, better known as Ruud Jacobs (b. 1938).

I was anxious to learn more about this orchestra which featured so much young talented European jazz musicians?  

For most oversea visitors of this blog, Ruud Jacobs may be a rather unknown Dutch bass player. A few years ago (May 2008) he celebrated his 70th birthday at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam with a great concert at his birthday party, which featured the best musicians in Dutch jazz; he is still active as a bass player in bands like the Trio Peter Beets, which accompanies jazz vocalist Rita Reys, the 87 years young jazz icon - Europe's First Lady of Jazz.

Trio Peter Beets at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2012: (f.l.t.r: Joost Patocka - Ruud Jacobs - Rita Reys and Peter Beets) ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

An introduction: Ruud Jacobs is the four years younger brother of Pim Jacobs (1934-1996) who made a career in Holland as jazz piano player, educator, producer and host. Pim founded a trio in 1954, featuring his younger brother Ruud on double bass, which accompanied dozens of American jazz musicians, that visited Europe. Pim married jazz vocalist Rita Reys (b. 1924), when her first husband jazz drummer Wessel Ilcken (1923-1957) suddenly passed way; Pim was also an educator ( many Dutch jazz fans, now in their 60s, must have been introduced to jazz by the Trio Pim Jacobs at school concerts), a producer of (light) music albums ( like the series by Reader's Digest) and host of numerous radio- and tv-programs.  He passed away in Tienhoven (The Netherlands), July 1996.

 Ruud Jacobs, Rita Reys and Pim Jacobs (part of a photo at the RCA album "Live at the Concertgebouw" (1986) ( photo courtesy: Leo Van De Noord) (original photo in colour)

Ruud Jacobs was born in Hilversum (The Netherlands) May 1938 and, as the story goes, surprised his relatives and friends, to play Charlie Parker's Yardbird Suite on a cheap flute, a penny whistle, he had bought in a junk shop .......... He started to play the alto saxophone, but soon took the double bass and within a few months he could play this large instrument like the best of them ....... He became a member of the his brother’s trio, featuring Pim at the piano, Ruud on double bass and Fred Burkhardt on drums. This trio surprised at the 1955 AVRO Jazz competition.

The 1958 Rhythme All-Stars  

Early 1958 Ruud Jacobs was honored as Best Dutch bass player in the annual poll of Rhythme, the Dutch Maandblad voor Jazz-, Dans- en Amusementsmuziek, which allowed him to join a recording session by the Rhythme All-Stars, a band of poll winners. The recording date was scheduled the 12th of June, 1958, but Ruud was not allowed to join the recording session - his record company Phonogram, refused permission for these recordings. Bob Pauwels, Rita Reys and her brother Karel ( all poll-winners too) were not at the recording session too, which made this band rather incredible. June 1958 Pim and Ruud finished their album The Jacobs Brothers in Jazz. (Fontana 173 560)

 The Jacobs Brothers in Jazz ( Fontana 173 560) ( originally released in 1958 - reissued 2007) ( cover photo in green)

This album, The Jacobs Brothers in Jazz, was recently reissued by Fontana. Ruud also played the tenor saxophone at that album in two tracks ( Salute to Sonny and Two Brothers), but Hein Wellens, a Dutch critic wrote in Rhythme ... that he prefered Ruud playing the bass instead of the tenor saxophone …. doch muzikaal minder geslaagd vinden wij het kwintet met Ruud als tenorist. Zijn Rollins aspiraties en zijn technische kapaciteiten komen (misschien nog) niet met elkaar overeen en veel liever horen we hem dan ook als bassist. Also the tracks with strings were, in his opinion, not to up to the mark. Ruud played the saxophone now and then in those days with musicians like vibe player Rob Meyn ( leader of the Rainbow Quartet); the photo was made at the Utrecht Jazz Club late 1958 or early 1959 ( feb. 1959) (Rhythme  no. 113). The Jacobs Brothers in Jazz .... A great document to learn how Ruud and Pim sounded in those days .......

 Pim's blue Mercedes. ( Ruud (l) - Pim (r))

 In 1958 the Trio Pim Jacobs made its name and Ruud and Pim traveled hundreds of miles in their blue Mercedes car to gigs all over the Netherlands .....

 In 1957 Richard Brown ( 1920-1983 ), a US director of mostly high-school bands, was invited to play with his Farmingdale school band The Dalers, at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival and this concert brought him international fame. He was invited by George Wein (b. 1925) to select members for an International Youth Big Band of talented young musicians, that should perform at the 1958 Newport festival. Rhythme, the Dutch jazz magazine, reports March 1958, that this International Youth Band would become the bone of this project at the upcoming Newport festival, ....  , een orkest, dat zal bestaan uit ca. 20 jonge jazzmusici uit zoveel mogelijk Europese landen (= a band, which will feature ca. 20 young musicians from, as much as possible, European countries). De leeftijd van de orkestleden zal tussen de 16 en 25 jaar liggen. (= The members of the band will be between 16 and 25 years old). Rhythme lists more than a dozen European countries which will be represented, including The Netherlands. The Dutch journal Nieuwsblad van het Noorden even devotes an article about it: Nederlandse Jazzmusicus naar Newport Festival. (Nieuwsblad van het noorden - 7th of March 1958) 

 Paul Acket ( 1922-1992): a well known Dutch impresario.

 George Wein and Richard Brown, the latter known as Marshall Brown to his friends and colleagues, contacted several leading impresarios in Europe to set up auditions and, hop scotched Europe conducting auditions on a back-breaking schedule, the liner notes of the Lp read. In Holland Paul Acket ( 1922-1992) was invited to do so. He announced this auditions as De Slag om Newport, refering to the Slag bij Nieuwpoort ( = the Battle of Nieuwpoort), a historical fight at the beaches of Flanders during the Eighty Years' War, each Dutchman knows, only because of its date: 1600.  The auditions were scheduled at the Amsterdam Bellevue Theater, the 10th of March, 1958.
(to be continued)

All Newport '58 International Youth Band contributions, as remembered by Dutch bass player Ruud Jacobs at my link site.

Thanks to Ruud Jacobs

Hans Koert
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Ruud Jacobs, Dutch bass player and producer for over fifty-five years, was selected in 1958 to play the double bass at the International Youth Band, better known as Babel's Band, scheduled at the 1958 Newport festival ............ The first contribution in Keep (it) Swinging is entitled Babel Band's Birth, and the opener of a series of blogs which will recollect this event, which was remembered by Ruud in 1958 as:  't was fantastisch ( = it was great).

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