Ton Van Bergeyk is one of those artists who will forever toil in obscurity, known only amongst his fellow musicians as a true masterif he is recognized at all. Sadly, there isn't much demand for his style of music, and he will always be admired more for his complete mastery of finger-style guitar than for any of his musical contributions. Fortunately, Stefan Grossman has been reissuing hard-to-find gems, like this 1976 recording, on his Guitar Workshop label. With any luck, an audience will find Van Bergeyk's ample skills which, given the fact that they were largely ignored upon their release, deserve to be simply recognized rather than rediscovered.
Van Bergeyk, a byproduct of the fertile British folk guitar movement, has an appealing finger-style method that features a precise bass line and nimble counterpoint in the upper register. His playing has a bounce and joie de vivre to it that shows he has absorbed the feel of ragtime guitar and completely mastered the art of syncopation. Along with that, Van Bergeyk is the Fats Waller of the guitar, one who is able to take the most trivial of material and turn it into a musical gem.
The title of this Van Bergeyk record (one of two currently available) promises songs from the golden age of American pop music, but he may have a different definition of what the golden age is than most people, or at least has decided that there are some other songs he'd rather tackle than Gershwin and Porter. He pursues a selection of rags and novelty tunes (many transcribed from the original sheet music or the recordings of Fred Van Eps). All of them are wonderfully catchy and exuberant, from the spirited "Mustard Swing" and European stylings of "Zither Melodies," to the vaguely Carribean "Coconut Dance." All demonstrate the enthusiasm seen in Van Bergeyk's smile in the liner notes; this is a guy who plays music because he loves the expression it gives him.
Van Bergeyk makes the most finger-busting passages seem effortless, and if you doubt it, try playing the songs yourself. All but one are included in tablature as PDF files as part of the packages. If you're a guitarist, there's no doubt you'll want to give them a try. If you're merely a listener, you'll at least enjoy the guitar stylings of a guy who never really got his due.
Track Listing: Junk Man Rag; Mustard Swing; Zither Melodies; From Soup To Nuts; Kansas City Stomp; Rondo Caprice; Ragtime Medley: Bantam Step & Springtime Rag; Notoriety Rag; Medley: If I Had You & Moonlight Serenade; Jazz Me Blues; Divertisement; Georgia Grind; Coconut Dance; Florida Rag.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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