Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pickin' Again - New Solo CD from Dutch Guitar Wizard!

CD front: Ice 'n Slice Records 89065-2
The Dutch guitarist, Ton van Bergeijk, has just released a new solo CD after almost 40 years of absence from recording solo fingerpicking guitar. The CD is produced by the artist, which means that everything from playing, recording, editing etc. is managed by Ton van Bergeijk himself. The CD is a highly welcome surprise for guitar fans who have long wanted to hear news from one of the best guitarists from the 1970s' rediscovery of the opportunities of the acoustic guitar when fingerpicked. In the liner notes, Ton states the background of the new CD, quote:

"Around '79 or so I did my last solo recordings. I hardly performed in those days. I had a regular job in systems programming, but after eight years it drove me physically as well as mentally over several edges, so by '83 I quit and tried to make a living by playing, safely, in the backline of several bands. Since then I have done a lot of different things: orchestras, bands, trio's, duo's, theatre, radio, television, studio's, the lot. Played and accompanied the whole caboodle, from Transylvanian fiddle tunes to free jazz, from the classics to New Orleans funk. Broadened my horizons, learned loads since my blues-based beginner days. All these influences have left their mark on my approach to fingerpicking. So now, like in Plato's cave, I'm returning to the scene of the crime with a different set of tools. Same brain, face and fingers, but a different guy, and if you think it isn't good any more: do have the courtesy to grant this pig his mud." 
Ton van Bergeijk (photo courtesy
The CD contains fourteen tracks of tunes composed and/or arranged by Ton van Bergeijk - a tracklist with additional info on how to buy the CD is available at the official website, here. As the subtitle of the CD indicates, the music is devoted to the blues genre and "... a wee bit o' jazz". To get a little closer to the kind of music presented at the CD, you will discover influence from both ragtime guitar pioneer Blind Blake, boogie woogie piano players, rhythm & blues a la Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and further the funky approach of New Orleans king of the ivories James Booker combined with licks and tricks inspired by Nashwille's guitar 'wild man' Jerry Reed thrown in for good measure, a nice gumbo stew which bears all the trademarks of Ton van Bergeijk's amazing ability to arrange and play great music as a highly gifted fingerstyle guitarist.
CD disc, Ice 'n Slice Records 89065-2

A couple of more quotes from Ton's comprehensive notes with the CD may help the reader of this short review to further imagine the amount of experience and work which is the background of the presented music. 

About his inspiration as a guitar player, Ton says: "I've always been interested in the blues and jazz guitarists of the interbellum period, but in a way that would provide me with fantasies of how they thought about their guitar, whether these fantasies were true to reality or not. That way you can use their "guitar-brains" to your own advantage." And about piano inspiration, he adds " I have always been influenced by pianists, maybe more so than by guitarists. Especially New Orleans guys like [James] Booker or [Mac] Rebennack [aka Dr. John]: they've always made the connection for me with classic jazz and therefore effectively opened my window towards post war rhythm & blues. The New Orleans piano styles in my mind have the quality of being chord-based rather than scale-based, which makes it more adaptable to guitar interpretations ..."  

This is valuable information for other guitarists with interest in studying Ton's approach and the recorded tunes, which in addition have been transcribed in tablature and regular music notation in the accompanying booklet. Later the recorded tunes will be followed by some video lessons to let other guitarists have the opportunity to further study the music and the amazing technique applied by this Dutch wizard of the contemporary fingerpicking guitar. Learn more about the CD and the future project of video lessons by visiting the official website, here 
Ton van Bergeijk (photo courtesy

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Past And Present

Georg Lankester
Georg Lankester writes a review of some recordings recently added to his collection reflecting the influence of Django Reinhardt - past and present.

An Old Django Recording From His Musette Years 

Last March I spent a weekend in Belgium to visit the beautiful town of Antwerp and to meet a very good  Django friend. Together we went to a huge cd & book department in the branch of the French “Fnac” company, with headquarters in Paris. Looking around I happened to find a Double CD dedicated to the Parisian Musette with many interesting tracks of different artists from the past.
CD box: Accordion Paris Musette, CD RETRO 2007-  2x 618
To my surprise one of the CDs included a track of the former accordionist Vetese Guérino, accompanied by guitarist Django Reinhardt.
The legendary accordionist Vetese Guérino
Accordionst Guérino was a popular artist in Paris in the Twenties and Thirties and his orchestra was called La boîte à matelots (sailors’box). Both Django Reinhardt and Baro Ferret joined this band (and often Gusti Malha) of which some recordings were made.
La boîte à matelots
The featured title on this CD is Gallito - a paso double – which was recorded in 1933 with Django now on guitar, so some years after the fire accident. Guérino already asked Django in his band around 1925 because of his special banjo technique which was far different than all other players. I could add to this that, in the early Thirties, Django usually travelled to Toulon in summertime and also there performed with Guérino in 1931. A nice experience to find such a recording which brings back memories of the heydays of the Musette. - You have the opportunity to listen to Gallito in the YouTube audio-video below as the first track from the uploaded disc 2 of the box-set mentioned above.

Great Guitar Playing,  For ‘Gypsy Swing’ Fans And Others 

For more than 50 years I am fascinated by the music of Django Reinhardt and I have seen and heard lots of artists playing in the style which he created. Most of what they recorded forms part of my collection and here is another item that certainly can be added.
Stunt Records, CD STUCD 15162
The Schmitt family from the Alsace is well-known, because several of its members got worldwide reputation as guitar virtuosos, in particular the brothers Tchavelo and Dorado. The latter’s son, Amati - who is also playing in the Django tradition – now joins his father’s quintet and together they travel throughout Europe in order to give concerts. One of their concerts took place in Denmark, in the city of Fredericia where they joined the Winter Festival in 2014. And….then something particular occurred.
Dorado & Amati Schmitt Group
After their concert, when the audience had left, a series of recordings were made for the Stunt Records label. A great initiative. The result is the CD Sinti du Monde which includes 11 titles and here is my first impression.

Right from the start, backed by an easy swinging rhythm group, Dorado plays the lovely  melody of Rose Room like Django did in the Thirties (though the sound of the guitar is a bit different). His solo is inventive and includes fast runs, but it is never too far off the theme. And so he continues the other  ten tracks, always showing control over his instrument, improvising whatever the rhythm is. In his composition For Francko, Dorado adds some vocals and the Ballade Romanez (another own piece) is impressive  with a solo of great beauty. Next to a few nice bossa themes Dorado also can be heard on violin in the Waltz for Esben - a homage to the Danish producer of the CD. Again it shows that he masters this instrument while bringing beautiful improvisations.

Dorado & Amati Schmitt (photo courtesy Stunt Records)
It is not my intention to describe all tracks. Django fans should discover that themselves. Tracklist include these titles: Rose room, Stompin’at the Savoy, For Francko, Ballade Romanez, Gloria forever, Waltz for Esben, After you’ve gone, Je suis seul ce-soir, How high the moon, Hayo Cue Cae, My blue heaven. - More info at the website of Stunt Records, here. Official website of Dorado Schmitt, here 

To end this review, I found a couple of YouTube videos featuring Dorado and Amati Schmitt Quintette recorded live in Denmark earlier this year - enjoy!

Georg Lankester,

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Music In The Modern Manner - The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra (1936-38)

Swing emerged with the rise of big bands mid-1930s in the USA, and while the music of orchestras led by Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and many others is still played today and appreciated by swing music fans, a then popular band co-led by songwriter/arranger Will Hudson (1908-1981) and songwriter/vocalist Eddie DeLange (1904-1949) - The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra - is almost forgotten by contemporary big band swing enthusiasts. The reason for this unfair treatment of some great music may partly depend on the short lived existence of the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra and further on the sad fact that the music of the band has not been reissued on CD - only a much searched after LP by collectors released by Bandstand Records (BSR 7105)  seems to have reissued and presented some of the recordings by the orchestra since the original 78 rpm discs were in the market.

LP front: Sophisticated Swing of The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra (1936-1939)

Will Hudson
Will Hudson put together his first big band in the ‘30s in Detroit, but in 1935 he teamed with Eddie De Lange and formed the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra which made several recordings for the Brunswick label. He was active as an arranger for several of the top bandleaders of the day such as Cab Calloway and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. He also wrote for Fletcher Henderson, who recorded his Hocus Pocus in 1934, and Jimmie Lunceford, who took Hudson’s instrumental, Organ Grinder’s Swing to number two on the charts in 1936. Hudson’s Sophisticated Swing with lyrics by Mitchell Parrish was recorded by several bands in 1938, including Woody Herman’s. The songwriting duo of Hudson and DeLange has one of the finest standards to its credit, Moonglow, written in 1934. It was published by Irving Mills who is also credited, as many publishers were then, with contributing to its origin. (info excerpted from this source)

Eddie DeLange
Eddie De Lange came from a musical family, but he began his career as a stunt man in Hollywood movies. When he returned to New York City in 1932 he worked as a lyricist for the music publishing company of Irving Mills and collaborated on The Man with the Horn (with Jack Jenney, 1932); Haunting Me (with Joseph Myrow, 1934); and two enduring standards, Moonglow (with Will Hudson and Irving Mills, 1934) and Solitude (with Duke Ellington, 1935). From 1935 to 1938 he and Will Hudson led one of the early swing bands and recorded for the Brunswick label. The band was extremely popular and played hundreds of engagements in the best venues around USA. (info excerpted from this souurce)

The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra
With the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra, much of the time DeLange led the band and Hudson stayed behind the scenes. The group appeared principally in eastern colleges, ballrooms, and hotels; it is reported on DeLange's official website that from 1936-38 they played over 200 ballroom dates throughout New England and the Midwest, as well as the Terrace Room of the New Yorker Hotel.  Among the sidemen in the band were, at various times, Steve Lipkins (trumpet), Gus Bivona (clarinet and alto saxophone), Bus Etri (guitar), Doc Goldberg (bass), and Billy Exner (drums). But in early 1938, Hudson and DeLange decided to go their separate ways. Hudson continued on the road with a group under his own name. Eddie DeLange formed and led his own orchestra on several tours, a chance meeting with composer, Jimmy Van Heusen, resulted in a highly productive partnership which a.o. produced Deep In A Dream (1938). They had their biggest hit with Darn That Dream (1939). (info excerpted from this source)

Between 1935 and 1938, the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra, even with its extensive tour schedules, recorded more than 50 songs for Brunswick Records, many of them original compositions. Below I'll insert some examples which have been uploaded at YouTube, Here is first The Hudson-DeLange Orchestra's version of Will Hudson's Organ Grinder's Swing recorded March 20, 1936

Next video features the band's version of Bugle Call Rag recorded March 10, 1937

This recording of Bugle Call Rag was among the first which caught my attention thanks to the guitar solo by Bus Etri, the legendary guitarist best known from recordings with Charlie Barnet's orchestra. Bus Etri's contribution to big band swing is much underrepresented, however, there are three more remarkable solos with the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra presented at the Bandstand LP mentioned above. Great solo work is featured in Stardust (also recorded March 10, 1937), On The Alamo (April 8, 1938) and Hangover In Hong Kong (June 10, 1938).
Swing guitar legend Bus Etri and unknown (b)
Will Hudson's composition Sophisticated Swing was recorded March 11, 1937 issued on 78rpm: Master 103 & Brunswick 7991

On December 20 1937 the Hudson-DeLange Orchestra recorded Definition of Swing issued on 78rpm: Brunswick 8071 

To end this small presentation of a great swing big band, here is Hudson-DeLange's version of the well known standard On The Alamo recorded April 8, 1938 and issued on Brunswick 8156


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