Sunday, October 28, 2012

Newport '58: The Battle of Newport

The 1958 Dutch auditions at Bellevue Theatre  - Amsterdam
Every musician who auditioned came away a slightly better jazzman (quote: Marshall Brown)
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).
On the reverse, the names of the members of the orchestra, which listed several well known names in European jazz, like Albert Mangelsdorff (1928-2005), Roger Guerin (1926-2010), George Gruntz (b. 1932), Gabor Szabo (1936-1982) and Dusko Gojkovic (b. 1931) and ..... 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? In the first blog I introduced you to what gave rise to the birth of this youth orchestra and an introduction to the 18 years young Ruud Jacobs - Dutch bass player ( Newport '58: The Birth of Babel's Band).  Today I love to inform you about the audition, as scheduled in Amsterdam the March, 1958 - in an article entitled  The Battle of Newport

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

  Nederlandse jazzmusicus naar Newport Festival ( Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 7th of March, 1958)

 George Wein en Richard Brown ( Marshall Brown for his friends and colleagues), invited impresarios in several European countries to organize auditions and hop scotched Europe conducting auditions on a back-breaking schedule, the lp album cover reads.
Paul Acket (1922-1992), a well known Dutch impresario was invited to organize such an audition for young Dutch promising jazz musicians and he labels it as De Slag om Newport, referring to a historical battle, the Battle of Nieuwpoort between the Dutch army under prins Maurits (= Maurice of Nassau) and the Spanish army under Albert van Oostenrijk (= Albert of Austria) at the beach near the present-day Belgian city Nieuwpoort. It is said that this battle is the only historical fact that middle-aged Dutchman remember from their education, as its date is so easy to remember: 1600: De slag bij Nieuwpoort 
The auditions were scheduled at the Bellevue Theatre in Amsterdam, the 10th of March, 1958.

 Rob Pronk ( 1928-2012) - Dutch piano player. (Source: Rhythme)

Ruud doesn't remember the exact place of the auditions, but he remembers some the Dutch musicians that were invited. The Rhythme magazine, maandblad voor jazz-, dans- en amusementsmuziek lists piano players like Pim Jacobs (1934-1996) and Frans Elsen (1934-2011), drummer Cees See (1934-1985), trumpet player Han Tromp (1940-1970), the Pronk brothers Rob and Ruud ( piano player Rob (1928-2012) and drummer Ruud "Broer" Pronk (geb. 1931). The eldest one, Rob Pronk, recently passed away. Ruud Jacobs recalled the names of trumpet player Ack (born. 1930) and Jerry Van Rooijen (1928-2009), but Ack told me that he don't remembers to have been present at this audition, neither was his brother Jerry. The only member of this audition, who is still alive, Ruud Pronk, couldn't be referenced due to geriatric complains.

Ruud (right) with his brother Pim (Source: Rhythme)

Down Beat ( vol. 25 no. 9 – 1 mei 1958) informs in its News Highlights about the Babel Band’s birth, as the orchestra was labeled since its start. The article introduces us to the way Brown selected the musicians: Brown has reference sheets for each applicant, with a grading system based on six points of musicianship: reading, improvisation, tone,  phrasing, and technique.  The audition had two parts: At first they were invited to play several selections of his own choosing with an audition rhythm section; then he was asked to play some music by either John LaPorta (1920-2004), Bill Russo (1928-2003) or Marshall Brown, which was brought along "to see what they could do with it." (Source: Down Beat)

Drummer Cees See (January 1959) ( source: Rhythme)

Every musician, Down Beat continuous, who auditioned came away a slightly better jazzman, Brown told the journalists who were very interested in these auditions.  What we did was give each one a lesson. And it was the first time anyone had ever come over and told them about what they had been hearing on records. Brown learned from the auditions, that .....the European musicians copies the more oblivious jazz devices. For instance, it was difficult to find a musician who could throw a note away. It never occurred to me until we got into the auditions, that such subtleties are typically American. The European musicians, Brown explains, had listened very well to American musicians like Lee Konitz, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins and Horace Silver.

Euro-jazzorkest luistert Newport-festival op! by Bix-jr. ( Nieuwsblad van het Noorden 31st of May, 1958)

The Dutch journalist from the Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, labeled as Bix-jr., which must have been a pseudonym, must have known this Down Beat article when he wrote the article entitled Euro-jazzorkest luistert Newport-festival op!

Gábor Szabó ( 1936-1982) - a Hungarian guitar player who lived as a politcal refugee in the States since 1956.

The Down Beat article, published the first of May, 1958, dates the auditions as mid-winter ( When George Wein and Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Brown took off for Europe in mid-Winter to recruit a band of top young sidemen from 16 countries, they carried with them only a dream of such a band - Down Beat reads) and they returned to the States late March.  After a whirlwind tour of 15 countries and some 500 grueling auditions, four trumpet players, three trombonists, five reed players and three men in the rhythm section were selected to play at the Newport '58 festival with the Newport International Youth Band. The name of the guitar player was not yet selected, when Down Beat published its article. Brown selected Gábor Szabó early April 1958 at the Berklee School of Music - This Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó ( 1936-1982) lived in the States since 1956, when he left his country as a political refugee - that's why he fit into the band members profile. 
Tete Montolliu ( 1933-1997) ( photo courtesy: Nils Winther) ( source: SteepleChase album Tete Montoliu - Words of Love)

Brown told the journalist that he had heard a lot of talented young musician .... 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.  Brown mentioned, for example, the blind Spanish piano player from Barcelona Tete Massana, who had impressed him ..... He has a wonderful ear. But we just couldn’t fit him into the band. Some of you might recognize this piano player as Tete Montoliu (1933-1997), a very talented musician, inspired by the music of Art Tatum. Tete's full name was  Vicenç Montoliu i Massana - Massana was his mother's family name. Tete had joined in the summer of 1958 the Lionel Hampton band, touring Spain and France. That might have been the reason that he couldn't join Brown's Babel Band  ........ George Gruntz (b. 1932), a Swiss piano player, was selected - not a bad choice either.

George Gruntz (right) (source:Jazz Forum )

The 25th of March, 1958 cables were sent to the winners and instructions were set to follow.
Ruud remembers the moment the letter was brought in by the post man ..... We dachten dat het voor Pim was, maar het was voor mij (= We believed the invitation was for Pim, but it was for me .... )  Op 25 maart 1958 werden er vanuit de VS telegrammen verstuurd naar “de winnaars”, en werden de uitverkorenen geïnformeerd. Rhythme, published April 1958, that Ruud Jacobs was selected to join the Tower Of Babel Band, De Toren van Babel-band, at the Newport festival - July 1958. The article Ruud Jacob bassist in wereld-jazzorkest was published in the Utrechts Nieuwsblad ( 28th 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.

Hans Koert
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When George Wein and Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Brown took off for Europe in mid-winter (1958) to recruit a band of top young sidemen from 16 countries, they carried with them only a dream of such a band. When they returned to the US in late Msrch, they brought back a reality. The Dutch auditions for the Babel's Band, De Toren van Babelband, were scheduled at the Bellevue Theatre in Amsterdam, March 1958: The Battle of Newport

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