Friday, May 31, 2013

Newport '58: The Blokker concert

A 1958 Tower of Babel's Band European one-nighter.....
Dutch concert in Blokker scheduled in auction hall
Hans Koert

The 1958 International Youth Band, better known as The Tower of Babel's band, featured young talented European musicians, all selected by George Wein and director Marshall Brown to perform at the 1958 Newport festival. After the Newport concerts, the band left for Europe and were schelduled at some one-nighters, like in Blokker (The Netherlands), where bass player Ruud Jacobs, selected for Holland, had his home game at the Blokker auction hall.  

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

 Ruud Jacobs ( photo courtesy: Ruud Jacobs)

After the Newport concerts, the complete band moved to Europe, without guitarist Gabor Szabo, original a Hungarian,  who had left his country in 1956 due to the political situation in his homeland. He was a political refugee.
In The Netherlands the International Youth Band played at the Blokker  Veilinghal, an auction hall, on Sunday the 27th of July, 1958. For Ruud this was a thrilling experience. Originally it seems that the band should have been scheduled at the Kurhaus in Schevingen for the 27th of July.

 Blokker is a small village north of Amsterdam at a market-gardening district and during the 1950s some fanatics, like Ben Essing, son of Blokker's mayor, organized jazz- and dance band concert in the auction halls of the village.  Famous is the May 1958 Benny Goodman concert,  organized a few weeks before this Tower of Babel Band concert, which would be followed by concerts of Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars ( 10th of May, 1959 and in May 1965) and ..... even a young British pop band, entitled The Beatles (1964) were invited!.  When the Toren van Babel Band (Dutch for Tower of Babel's band) was scheduled, the Benny Goodman concert was still fresh in mind ..... The warm welcome of the Benny Goodman band, who entered the auction halls in antique cars, was repeated .... 

The line up (source: Rhythme 107 Aug. 1958)
Ze arrriveerden na een rondrit door Hoorn, Zwaag en Blokker in acht glanzend opgepoetste Chevroletjes, Fordjes en Renaults van ver voor 1930 bij de veiling. (= They arrived in eight shiny well polished antique Chevy's, Fords and Renaults at the auction hall, after a round trip along the cities of Hoorn, Zwaag and Blokker.) Onder het geluid van de amechtige toetertjes reden de wagentjes de hal binnen tot voor't podium, waar Willis Conover, disc-jockey van de "Voice of America" de orkestleden stuk voor stuk aan het publiek voorstelde. ( = The old cars blowed its horns while entering the hall, where Willis Connover, disc-jockey of the "Voice of America" introduced all members of the band).  Of course Ruud Jacobs, the Dutch representative, was welcomed with a standing ovation ....  Ben Essing, organisator, had even organized some extra trains from Amsterdam to Hoorn, but, this seems to have been a financial blow for the Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch railway organization, as only 152 people ( in stead of the 1800 expected) used this service, to reach the concert. (source:  Leeuwarder Courant, 28th of May, 1958)

The New Orleans Seven (source: Rhythme104 ( May 1958))

 The musicians were entered into the auction hall in old cars of the P.A.C. ( =   Pionier-Automobielen Club ) as mentioned, where the audience was warmed up by Ben Hendriks’ Dixieland Seven and Hans Roty’s New Orleans Seven, featuring leader Hans Roty and trombonist Frits Hotz; a traditional jazz band which was awarded a few weeks earlier at the Concours of the Nederlandse Jazz Federatie in Scheveningen.
The International Youth Band at Blokker (source: Rhythme 107 Aug. 1958)

Frank Visser who wrote a review of the concert, wondered if The Tower of Babel was a real band or a collection of top-soloists …..   Frank Visser was not very impressed by its leader Marshall Brown, whose artistic leadership was not very clear …  He should have led a swing dance band instead of a jazz big band, was Frank’s scathing opinion ….  De uitstekende scores gingen ver boven zijn macht en hij moest het zoeken in swing-varieté in plaats van een jazz Big Band.

 "The Tower of Babel"-orkest in veilinghal van Blokker ( Leeuwarder Courant 28 juli 1958)

Although the sound quality was very bad – the saxes were lost in the noise of the brass – De saxen verdronken in het kopertumult, the solos were great. In Frank’s opinion Bengt Rosenberg and Hans Salomon were great in Lover Man; trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, Dusko Gojkovic (á la Miles Davis), Ronnie Ross, Christian Kellen (in Imagination) and …. our Ruud Jacobs impressed. Andy Marsala, the young promising US alto saxophone player, 16 years young, impressed: knap, swingy, goede toon ….. Its final tune was Swinging The Blues and the audience gave the band a standing ovation.

Toren van Babel: jazz en jazz-fans in Blokker ( De Tijd 28 juli 1958) 
 De Tijd reads in an article entitled Toren van Babel: jazz an jazz-fans in Blokker  that the band members, although the languages were different, sounded well together .... The leader of the band, the newspaper reads, stirred up the members of the band, as if he was affraid that no one in the enthusiastic but rather noisy audience, would hear its music .....  hetgeen gezien het volume dat werd opgebracht toch werkelijk niet het geval was ...... (  although its sound volume was so extreme that no-one could have missed it!). One of the tunes played, De Tijd says, was Pennies From Heaven.   
A Blokker food voucher

 After the concert the band left for a six days gig at the World Fair in Brussels, the so-called  Expo .... (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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The Tower of Babel's Band, an International Youth Band, had been scheduled at the 1958 Newport Festival, directed by Marshall Brown. It featured young talented European jazz musicians. After the performances at Newport the band returned to Europe and played at some one-nighters, like at the Dutch Blokker auctionhall, a home game for Dutch bass player Ruud Jacobs.

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