JAZZ IN LITTLE BELGIUM
(10” DECCA, Belgium, 1958)
A legendary 10” from Paul D.’s treasure trove, the almost mythic “JAZZ in LITTLE BELGIUM” which was released in 1958, the year of the famous Brussels World Fair , Expo ’58 (which gave us the Atomium).
The sleeve notes put it clearly in context:
In the historic year of Brussels’ World Fair, at the same time when commerce, industry, education and arts are illustrated in numerous pavilions, it was obvious that Belgium modern jazz had to be presented to the millions of visitors invading Belgium.
Jazz, although of North American origin, has become an international language, in which musicians from all over the world have succeeded to express their emotions.
This is of course also true of Belgium, a small country in Western Europe that, at all time has been a pioneer in the field of Jazz Music. Traditional jazz-composers David Bee and Peter Packay, and Robert Goffin, the writer of the first famous book on Jazz “ Aux Frontières du Jazz” have opened the road to many jazz-explorers, among which more recently the harmonica-wizard Jean “Toots” Thielemans (with George Shearing) and the temor-sax and flue soloist Bobby Jaspar (with JJ Johnson) have acquired highest ratings in the USA.
Achile Palmans and Jean Kluger, the producers of the present album gave an opportunity to 5 different groups to illustrate present trends and styles, followed by the most important players in the country.
May the buyers of this album enjoy as much listening to Belgian Music and Belgian players , as “the boys” and the producers endeavoured to make this album thoroughly enjoyable.
This album gives us a unique sound picture of what Belgian Modern Jazz sounded like some 53 years ago . Some of the names may be familiar already to European Jazz aficionados: sax-players Jacques Pelzer (Open Sky Unit, Rene Thomas …), Jack Sels (on whose life the film Just Friends was based), sax/flute player Alex Scorier (a member of a.o. Marc Moulin’s Placebo in the Seventies), bass players Benoit Quersin (Bobby Jaspar, Rene Thomas …) and Jean Warland (Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band, Peter Herbolzheimer and countless MPS sessions…), Johnny Peret, Paul Fanis, Paul Dubois (Babs Robert & the Love Planet). Willy Albimoor is perhaps better-known as composer of “Jungle Fever” (a No1 Hit for the Chakachas that went Gold in the States in 1972) and a long-time accompanist of Belgian singer-songwriter Paul Louka (a close friend of Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens) Many will be surprised to see the name of Joel Van Droogenbroeck as piano-player of the Pelzer combo. Yes, it is him, the Krautrock legend, the brain behind BRAINTICKET and other psychedelia! Read more about him on his website.
1. Earthfever Willy Albimoor
2. Rain on the Grand' Place Jack Sels
3. Loly René Goldstein
4. French love Willy Albimoor
5. Don't smile Jacques Pelzer
6. A mouse in the crowd Herman Sandy
7. Witch of Salem René Goldstein
8. Spanish lady Jack Sels
9. To the exit Herman Sandy
Etienne Verschueren (as) WILLY ALBIMOOR (p)
Jean Warland (b) Freddy Rottier (d)
JACK SELS (ts) Jean Fanis (p)
Jean Warland (b) Rudy Frankel (d)
RAIN ON THE GRAND ' PLACE
François Honings, Alex Scorier (fl) Johnny Renard (vib)
RENÉ GOLDSTEIN (b) Joe Demuynck (d)
WITCH OF SALEM
Milou Struvay (tp) JACQUES PELZER (as) Jean-Pierre Gebler (bar)
Joel Vandroogenbroek (p) Benoit Quersin (b) Vivi Mardens (d)
5. HERMAN SANDY (tp) Constant Letellier (ts) Roger Asselberghs (bar)
Willy Albimoor (p) Paul Dubois (b) Johnny Perret (d)
A MOUSE IN THE CROWD
TO THE EXIT
All tunes recorded Brussels, Belgium, April 1958
N.b. : track 8 was a bit of a mystery as the sleeves notes give the same rhythm section as track 2 but the Jazz in Belgium website credits lists Jack Sels with Pelzer's rhythm section i.e Joël Vandroogenbroeck - Piano / Benoît Quersin - Double bass /
Vivi Mardens - Drums
However, the problem is solved :
(...) aussi bien Bruyninckx que le booklet du double CD "Jazz in little Belgium - La collection Robert Pernet" donnent le même personnel pour "Rain on the Grand Place" que pour "Spanish Lady" enregistré le même jour et ces deux faces sont les seules qu'il ait jamais enregistré pour Decca. C'est également le cas pour Pelzer qui n'a enregistré que cette seule face pour Decca (Don't smile) tout au long de sa carrière. (...) On peut faire confiance à Walter Bruyninckx, il a toujours raison
How about re-issue? None although some of the tracks have been reissued on the compilation CD"Jazz in Little Belgium - La collection Robert Pernet". Unfortunaltely, it seems that this double CD produced by the Fondation Roi Baudouin is also OOP. It may still be available through some specialised bookshops / retailers. Try here or here
Some useful references on Belgian Jazz history, on internet:
Jazz in Belgium: a Must. Everything you wanted to know about Belgian Jazz and were afraid to ask. And more! You will find detailed bio of all the musicians mentioned in this post.
Focus on European Jazz # 3: Big Jazz from Little Belgium I wish I could get hold of some of these records (esp. the Hein Huysmans Kwintet ... I'd love to hear, own , post it).
The West Music Club (a Belgian Big Band lead by Richard Rousselet – of Placebo and Solis Lacus fame among many other musical ventures) has published an history of Belgian jazz in his bulletins (downloadable in pdf format, in French)