Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fud Candrix - Belgian saxophonist and band leader (1908-1974)

 Fud Candrix: One of Belgium greatest 20th century saxophone players.
Georg Lankester

Much is written about the French jazz musicians from the past, mostly as a result of the ‘Hot Club of France’ promotion and the great performances of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.
However, little to nothing is being pubished concerning the Belgian swing era from the Thirties and Forties. Hence this publication:

Fud Candrix (1908-1974) (Nederlands) - Fud Candrix - Belgian saxophonist and band leader (1908-1974) (English)

This story is about the sax player and band leader Fud Candrix. His style was often compared to that of the American reed man Fud Livingstone and that’s why he got that nickname which he would always keep.
Fud was born on July 17, 1908 in Tongeren (Belgium). During his youth he became interested in music by his brother Jef and he decided to go on playing.

Fud Candrix (1908-1974)

He went to the conservatory of Liège to study violin. In the meantime Jef, who was saxophonist, had gone to Brussels to make music for a living. And so did Fud, who also had learned to play saxophone. It would remain his instrument for the rest of his life. He was very fond of Coleman Hawkins who’s first records then became available in Europe.
As a result of Fud’s sax performances, the audie nce became charmed of the instrument and soon offers and contracts came in, even from North Africa. In the early Thirties, he could be found in Italy and Holland and, of course, quite often in his own country where his popularity increased rapidly. Fud then also started to make arrangements for his band.
In 1932 he played with a swing band where the well-known trumpet player Gus Deloof formed part of. Shortly afterwards Fud was playing in a formation with his brother called “the Candrix Brothers”. However, the group had to stop after one year because of Fud’s military service.

 The Fud Candrix orchestra (1930s)

Then in 1936 he formed a big dance orchestra and performed in many dancings at the Belgian coast, e.g. the “Lac aux Dames” in Ostende. During the winter he switched to Brussels and played in the popular “L’Heure Bleu”. Below you’ll find info on the line-up of the band. Together with the piano player, Fud, as a saxophonist and band leader, worked out many arrangements and soon also recordings were made.
In this respect I want to mention the name of Felix Feacq. We all know French jazz promotors such as Charles Delaunay and Hugues Panassié, but this man played an important role in the early Belgian jazz scene. It is said that he was the first to issue a magazine on jazz. He was also the one who managed to realise recording sessions for Fud’s band

In fact he was so passionated about the swing of the orchestra that, back in 1936, he made a demo record and sent this to Telefunken, the German record company which was known for some jazzy records, quite rare for those years. The company reacted positive and concluded a contract for a longer period. However. in all honesty it must be stated that they demanded dance music.
It is to Fud’s credit that he made as less concessions as possible and that his band also produced good swing. By the way: because of his contract, he sometimes (when working with other groups) also recorded under the name of “Tony Young”.

  • Towards the end of 1937 the first recordings were realised and the year after a few of them were issued. Some titles: “Washington Squabble” and “Always”. Also from England interest was shown since the BBC arranged radio broadcasts of the Candrix band. In 1939 new records were released. But then the war broke out and in the course of time jazz playing was less tolerated, later even prohibited.
Listen to the tune Washington Squabble, recorded June, 27th, 1938 for  Telefunken.

Fud was now appointed leader of a special band and performed for soldiers who were called up because of the mobilization. They played under the name “Werk Elisabeth” and produced music to cheer up the soldiers.

 Fud Candrix with Jeff De Boeck, with whom he recorded ca. 1940 (Source:  De Swingperiopde - Jack De Graeff)

However, in 1940 Candrix also formed a ‘big band’ in which well-known musicians such as Ben Pauwels (sax), Yvon de Bie (piano) and Gus Deloof (trumpet) were assembled. Those were hectic times, because Fud had many performances, radio-broadcasts and recording sessions. Here a few titles of his records: “The oldest singer in Harlem” and “Broadway Shuffle”.
Apart from all his work in Belgium, his dance band was contracted in Germany. It may sound strange but in 1942, in the middle of the war, his orchestra gave concerts for several weeks in the Delphi Palast in Berlin and also in that city recordings took place. Fud was now an acknowledged band leader!
Despite the fact that he was popular with the German audience, he was always under strict control, also when performing in other countries. During a concert in Paris when he played ‘The Saint Louis Blues’ (with a different title) some German officers who attended this event understood the American origin and the next day Fud was summoned to see the Gestapo and had to talk long before he could leave the office. Strangely enough in those times he produced in fact the best swing music and it is sometimes said that his band was better than the formations of Alix Combelle and other French reed players.

Back to 1942 when Fud, who like many others, was impressed by the virtuosity of guitarist Django Reinhardt, invited him to Brussels for concerts (after which recordings followed).
Django wished and this was agreed with Fud, that he should lead the band and that his arrangements were going to be executed.
The  records would become of historical value because, accompanied by piano player Yvon de Bie, the artist could also be heard on violin. Polydor issued the four titles by the two artists and added several tracks of Django with the Candrix band (still available on cd). From the muscial pont of view those years were highly successful for the sax player / band leader.

 Orchestra founded to enterain mobilized soulders (1939). Fud Candrix is on the right (photo: Albert Michiels Archive - Source: Jazzmozaiek)

On top of the many performances in his own country, his band got a contract to play one full month in the ABC theatre in Paris. Even Django, who attended one of the concerts, was enthousiast and complimented Fud loudly from his seat in the concert room.
During the night jam sessions took place with various French players like saxophonist Alix Combelle, drummer André Jourdan and trombonist Aimé Barelli. Our band leader could  persuade Django to join these sessions by giving him Belgian cigarettes.

Listen to the tune South Paw Special and Piano Boogie, both recorded for Decca (1946) (sorry for the bad sound quality)

Later, when the war was over, the situation changed. Although the Candrix band fell apart, the always dynamic band leader did not stop his activities. He started new formations with good jazzmen such as Frank Engelen, Jos Aerts and John Ouwerx. Fud played also a few years in Amsterdam with a small combo. In 1953 he travelled to the Belgian Congo to perform there for one year. Once back in Belgium he was leading a bigger band, but in fact this kind of music cannot really be considered as ‘swing’. He produced good entertainment music and could be heard bringing popular songs from Glenn Miller and similar orchestras.

South Paw Special: Recorded in Brussels, November 12th, 1946 for Decca.

In the early Sixties Fud formed a special big band called ‘The Belgian All Stars’. They performed every year during a Festival in Combain-la-Tour. This formation included beside others the musicians Deloof, Aerts and Ouwerx. The first event took place in 1961 and the last one 5 years later. In 1963 the BRT also organised.a jazz program where Fud played a certain role. However, this did not result in any engagement; his popularity seemed to be decreased.
  • Only in 1966 another Jazz Festival was organised in which Fud’s Group represented ‘the Classic Jazz’. It appeared to be hard for him to compete with young jazz musicians such as guitarist René Thomas and Sadi Lallemand on vibes. By the way the latter recorded with Django just before he died in 1953.
    Though Candrix was no longer active, he still came back in 1969 and ’71 when he recorded 12 tracks. These were his last records ! According to friends he listened with astonishment and aversion to the ‘Free Jazz’ musicians from those years. In his opinion these people just played for their own and didn’t communicate with their audience, for Fud an essential Jazz element. Die mannen koken ieder hun eigen pot! Jazz is volgens mij iets dat uit het hart komt, een soort harttrilling, die van muzikant overgaat op het publiek ( Source: De Swing periode (1935-1947) Jazz in België - Jack De Graef) 
An acknowledged tenor saxophonist as he was, I would like to add that in the later years, Fud Candrix also became a fine jazz violin player. He died on April 11, 1974, only 66 years old. With Jean Omer and Stan Brenders Fud belongs to the greatest jazzmen of Belgium in the past.

Recorded in 1938: Wahington Squabble, Sugar Foot Stomp, Always. Milenberg Joys, Teasing the piano, Jungle Swing, - Midnite in Harlem, Swingnight in Dixieland, Wadding at the Waldorf. In 1939: Frankie & Johnnie, Indian Love Call, At the Woodchoppers Ball, Shoot me the Meatballs, Table d’Hôte. In 1940: The oldest singer in Harlem, Broadway Shuffle, Strictly for Jackie, Introducing Mr. Basie, Tiger rag, Farewell blues, Ring dem Bells.
16 April 1942 (Django Reinhardt and Ivon de Bie, piano): Vous et moi, Distraction, Blues en mineur, Studio 24 / with the Candrix band: Place de Brouckère, Seul ce soir, Mixture, Bei dir war es immer so schön.
Line-up in 1942: ‘Django Reinhardt et son grand orchestre (Fud Candrix): Maurice Giegas, Janot Morales, Luc Devroye (t), Nic Frérar, Lou Melon, Bobby Naret, Lou Logist (as), Victor Ingeveldt, Benny Pauwels, Fud Candrix (ts), Yvon de Bie (p), Django Reinhardt (g, solo), Eugène Vées (g), Emmanuel Soudieux (b), André Jourdan (dr).

Georg Lankester

In a previous blog Georg Lankester published about Stan Brenders, another great Belgian musician.

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Fud Candrix - one of Belgium most important jazz saxophone players from the 20th century. He became famous with his jazz- and dance orchestra - played for the mobilized Belgium soldiers to hearten them just before the war. During the post war years he performed with smaller groups, but had to lose out to the younger generations.  George Lankester spotlighted this great musician.
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1 comment:

  1. Georg/Hans :
    Nice piece of work; article, photos, etc.
    Fud is one of my favorites along with Jean Robert.
    How about Dick Willebrandts'/Ramblers' KEES BRUYN.?
    Nice tenor.
    My best. Keep up the fine work.
    Rich Hargrove