Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Newport '58: The rhythm section of the Babel's Band

 Introducing the members of the rhythm section of the 1958 International Youth Band. 
George Gruntz, who recently passed away, was Brown's second choice .....  
Hans Koert

One of the most important part of a big band is the rhythm section – Normally they are located at the back of the band stand hidden behind the brass section …. When Marshall Brown and George Wein dreamt about founding a big band, especially for the 1958 Newport Festival, featuring young European talents, they organized for a trip to Europe, early 1958, dozens of auditions for young jazz musicians. 

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

In  some previous blog I wrote about the auditions and what musicians were invited for the brass- and reed sections. Today I love to introduce you to the rhythm section.  

The rhythm section ( The International Youth Band - Newport 1958) ( Columbia CS 8073)
  • Seventeen musicians received an invitation:
    • The trumpet sectionPalle Bolvig from Denmark, Roger Guerin from France, Dusko Gojkovic from Yugoslavia and José Manuel Magelhaes from Portugal.
    • The trombone sectionChristian Kellens (Belgium), Kurt Jarnberg (Sweden), Erich Kleinschuster (Austria) and Albert Mangelsdorff (Germany). 
    • The reed sectionBernt Rosengren (Sweden), Jan Wroblewski (Poland), Hans Salomon (Austria), Wladimiro Bas Zabache (Spain) and Ronnie Ross (England).
    • The rhythm sectionGabor Szabo ( Hungary), George Gruntz (Switzerland), Rudolph (= Ruud) Jacobs (The Netherlands) and Gilberto Cuppini (Italy.).
Tete Montoliu.(1933-1997)

During the auditions, the delegation, featuring George Wein, producer and organizer of the Newport festival and Marshall Brown and his wife, must have heard hundreds young musician, that loved to join this so-called  Tower of Babel’s Band.

 Brown told the journalists, who were anxious to learn, what musician were selected, that he had heard a lot of  young promising talents ….. I only wish it could be possible to bring over more of the fine musicians we heard …. If we were able to take everyone who impressed us, we’d have 13 trumpets, 9 trombones … that kind of band. It happened that they heard a musician, which they loved to have in the band's selection …. One of those young talented musicians was Tete Montoliu, mentioned in a previous blog. He has a wonderful ear. But we just couldn’t fit him into the band, Brown explained. Tete Montoliu, born in Barcelona (Spain), March 1933, born blind, raised in a musical family and learned to read music in Braille. He was fascinated to the music collection of his mother and became inspired by the early Armstrong recordings and the music of Duke Ellington. 
At his 13th year he started a classical piano study at the Conservatori Superior de Música de Barcelona, but also played with Don Byas, the US tenor saxophone player, who had come to Europe with the Don Redman band and found here a new home ( in France, Denmark and The Netherlands, where he passed away in August 1972). When Marshall Brown heard this young piano player, he was allready active recording and touring with Lionel Hampton since the mid fifties, who labeled him as ... the best piano player of Europe …., and would release his first album in 1958 with his own band: Tete Montoliu y su Conjunto. The fact that he was on tour with Lionel Hampton and was invited to play with the Doug Watkins and Art Taylor in Cannes ( July 1958), made it impossible to join the International Youth Band of Newport.   George Gruntz, a Swiss piano player, was selected as piano player … Brown's second choice.

 George Gruntz (right) (1932-2013)
  • George Gruntz  (born: Basel (Switzerland) ( June 1932) – Died: Basel ( Switserland) January 2013.)  A few weeks George Gruntz, selected by Marshall Brown to be part of the Babel’s Band rhythm section, passed away after a long illness. He studied at Basel and Zurich conservatories and became known at several Swiss amateur jazz festivals. From that period several tunes are reissued at Swiss compilation albums, like 30 Jahre Jazz Made in Switserland and Amateur Jazz Festival Zurich ( Best of 1954-1968).  In the period Marshall Brown invited him to be the bands piano player, George freelanced as an accompanist in Switserland and Scandinavia. Although he had to make a living as an car salesman, the Newport adventure brought him international recognition and he would develope into one of the leading Swiss Jazz musicians
 Gabor Szabo (1936-1982) 

We will never know if Marshall Brown had heard (about) the Hungarian guitar player Gabor Szabo before he left for Europe, but a fact is that he didn’t select a guitar player while at his tour through Europe to find some excellent musicians for his dreamed band.

  • Gabor Szabo ( born Budapest (Hungary) March 1936 – Budapest (Hungary) February 1982).  He learned to play the guitar as a teenager, mostly self-educated, thanks to the radio programs of The Voice of America. In Budapest he made his debut on record in a group that accompanied the Hungarian vocalist Myrna Bell ( = aka Irma Hoso). He was in those pre-Newport days a sought after musician, and worked for films and radio. He also taped for The Voice of America, and left Hungaria, the story says, at the evening this tape was broadcasted. ( November 1956).  In the US, being a political refugee, he became a student at the Berklee School of Music. He can be heard at a 1958 Berklee production, directed by Herb Pomeroy, featuring Charlie Mariano, Nick Brignola, and the Austrian born Joe Zawinul. Marshall Brown invited Gabor for his band, while returned from Europe …
Pim (1934-1996) and Ruud Jacobs (1938) lost in thought .... ( source: Rhythme)
  • Ruud Jacobs ( born: Hilversum (The Netherland) (May 1938) was invited to become the bass player of the band. Although he started on clarinet and piano he took the bass to play in his brothers Pim trio. Ruud Jacobs, is still the accompanist for Rita Reys, European leading jazz vocalist for more then 50 years, the widow of his late brother Pim.  He told me some of his recollections about his trip to Newport July- August 1958.  In a previous blog you can find more about his early career.
 Gil Cuppini ( 1924-1996)
  • Gilberto (Gil) Cuppini ( born: Milan (Italy) June 1924)(died: Milan, June 1996). He learned to play the piano when he was a schoolkid and before the war he studied to become a surgeon at the Milan University. After the war, inspired by the music of the Benny Goodman Quartet he became a professional drummer.  He started in the band of Hazy Osterwald and recorded under his own as the Sestetto Jazz Gilberto Cuppini June 1947 which was the start for a lot of recordings and when he was selected in 1958 he had already built an impressive discography. He was active at the Italian radio and tv as a musician and must have been one of the senior musicians ( aged in his mid 30s) of the band.
In the next blog the selection gatheres at Brussels Airport to cross the ocean - the start of their Newport adventures .....

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

Hans Koert
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Marshall Brown and George Wein joined, spring 1958, within a few weeks span, dozens of auditions .. "they hopscotched Europe conducting auditions on a back-braking schedule."  They heard a hundred young talented musicians. "If we were able to take everyone who impressed us, we’d have 13 trumpets, 9 trombones … that kind of band ..." Marshall Brown told the journalists at the airport when they returned from their search for members of their band. It was a pity that a young talented Spanish piano player was not available - the Swiss piano player George Gruntz, who passed away a couple of weeks ago, was invited. The guitar player was found in the States - a political refugee, a talent on his instrument. Dutch bass player Ruud Jacobs represented The Netherlands.

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