In memory of Johnny Peret

In memory of Johnny Peret
In memory of my friend Johnny Peret, vibist, drummer, accordeonist extraordinaire

Saturday, January 22, 2011



In an ideal world, Etienne Verschueren would be recognised as one of the leading European altists, arrangers and bandleaders. 
The bio below comes from the Website of  Les Lundis d'Hortense , a goldmine of information on Belgian Jazz Musicians.

Etienne VERSCHUEREN was born in Ronse (Renaix), Belgium, in 1928, of a musical family. He studied piano at the Music Conservatory of Ghent in 1945, then harmony in his home town and taught himself to play the saxophone.

Soon after World War 2, he works with the most famous professional bands : Willy ALBIMOOR, Mickey BUNNER. He shares his activities between piano and saxophone. In the fifties, while playing with Belgian tenor sax legend Jack SELS, he moves towards the alto sax.
He joins Roger VAN HAVERBEKE's "Belgian Bluebirds" featuring trumpet player Janot MORALES.
Etienne VERSCHUEREN starts getting involved with the Belgian bebop scene : René THOMAS, Jacques PELZER, Jean WARLAND, SADI, etc.
He also plays accordeon in the recording studios and develops a carreer as an arranger. He writes for famous singers Catherina VALENTE, Charles AZNAVOUR, etc...
In 59, he joins the Belgian radio (INR) big band led by Henri SEGHERS. He composes for this ensemble the music of "Suite en seize", a TV program that receives the "Rose de Bronze" award in Montreux (63).
The same year, the BRT radio hires him and soon selects him in 65 to be the leader of the "BRT Jazzorkest". Under his leadership, this big band will become an important institution on the musical scene, as well in Belgium as in Europe. They will perform every year at the "Jazz Middelheim" Jazz Festival in Antwerp.
As a leader, composer/arranger or saxophonist, Etienne VERSCHUEREN had the opportunity to work with the greatest American jazzmen. But he also promoted, with the help of radio producer Elias GISTELINCK, the music of Belgian composers and arrangers : SADI, Francy BOLAND, Jean WARLAND, Bert JORIS, Bob PORTER, Michel HERR, Freddy SUNDER and many others.
In 77, Etienne VERSCHUEREN founds the "Bop Friends" with Nick FISSETTE (tp), Tony BAUWENS (p), Roger VANHAVERBEKE (b) and Freddy ROTTIER (drs). The group recorded 2 albums. Another album, "Early Spring", recorded in 83, after a first eclipse as a saxophonist, presents him with pianist Charles LOOS, Roger VAN HAVERBEKE (b) and Freddy ROTTIER (drs).
He also recorded a big band album with pianist Jack VAN POLL : "Injacktion" (September 5118).
In 85, Etienne VERSCHUEREN is forced to give up the saxophone for health reasons. He then concentrates on his writing, plays the piano and communicates his enthousiasm for music to musicians of all generations.
This generous musician leaves us with several recordings, in which he shows a brilliant talent as a saxophonist and as a composer/arranger.
He wrote many pieces for jazz big band, for symphony orchestra ans a few film scores (a.o. André DELVAUX's "Une femme entre chien et loup").
A musician of great feeling, he was nicknamed "Mister Blue" by his peers.

I have been very fortunate to see the BRT Jazzorkest in concert many times during the late sixties, early seventies, often with American guests (I have fond memories of a concert with Nathan Davis).  It was an awesome and inspired band which could rival any other big band in Europe (bar the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band but who else could ?). 

This album, which was originally released on vinyl in 1987 presents a good selection of the work ofd Etienne Verchueren as an arranger and a solist with the BRT JazzOrkest.  Those of you already familiar with Sixties/Seventies Belgian Jazz will recognised many familiar names as these guys were all over the place in the early Seventies. It was a great period for music and I do miss it!

Link in the comments as usual.  And don't forget to leave a comment!


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  2. I am enjoying myself tremendously

  3. RE-POST