In the decade spanning 1960-70, composer / saxophonist Boy Edgar (1915-1980) led one of The Netherlands' most acclaimed and adventurous big bands, a contemporary of the massive Metropole Orchestra and precursor of the renowned Dutch Jazz Orchestra. Return
consists of nine never-before-released concert performances recorded during the band's heyday in 1965-66 including the first recording of Theo Loevendie
's forward-looking "Finch Eye." To augment the band's cadre of esteemed Dutch musicians (alto saxophonist Piet Noordijk
, tenor Toon van Vliet, bass trombonist Erik van Lier
and pianist Cees Slinger among them), American trumpeters Benny Bailey
and Ted Curson
each appears on two selections.
The album opens with Duke Ellington
's "Solitude" and John Coltrane
's "Blues Minor" from a concert taped July 19, 1965, in Hilversum. The second concert, held in Groningen in October '65, encompasses Nat Adderley
's "Work Song," baritone saxophonist Herman Schoonderwalt's "Blue Boy," Edgar's "Now" (a.k.a. "Competitive Challenge"), the album's longest track at fourteen minutes, and Loevendie's "Return." The producers acknowledge that sound quality on the last two numbers, from an April '66 concert at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, may be less than satisfactory (it isn't) but endorse their inclusion because of the world premiere of "Finch Eye." Loevendie's magnum opus is preceded by the Jerome Kern / Otto Harbach standard "Yesterdays" and followed by the earnest finale, Edgar's blues-drenched "Play the Game Now" (which consumes another thirteen minutes-plus of the album's generous seventy-four-minute playing time).
Baritone Joop Mastenbroek, taking his lone solo on "Game," makes sure it counts, as do trumpeter Ado Broodboom, valve trombonist Cees Smal, bassist Dick van der Capellen, flutist Chris Hinze and an uncredited soprano (either Loevendie or Schoonderwalt) and trumpet (most likely Curson). Noordijk shines on "Solitude," while Bailey traverses a higher realm. Coltrane's "Blues" is brightened by Loevendie (soprano), Noordijk, Schoonderwalt, van der Capellen, van Vliet and drummer John Engels
, Adderley's "Work Song" by Slinger, Smal and the engaging tenor Harry Verbeke. Schoonderwalt wrote "Blue Boy," on which he solos with Smal, Singer, van Vliet, Engels and bassist Rob Langereis, and Loevendie "Return," on which his expressive soprano flashes between prancing solos by Smal and Noordijk.
Even though these performances were recorded more than fifty years ago, they remain fresh and alive, serving as a reminder that Boy Edgar's band was among the finest of its time, one that warrants comparison to one of its more celebrated counterparts, the masterful Clarke / Boland band from France. Return
is part of a series of reissues designated Treasures of Dutch Jazz.
Should future releases live up to this standard, they would indeed be more than welcome.
Solitude; Blues Minor; Work Song; Blue Boy; Return; Now (a.k.a. Competitive Challenge); Yesterdays; Finch Eye; Play the Game Now.
Boy Edgar: leader, conductor; Wim Kuylenburg: trumpet; Jan Vleeschouwer: trumpet; Jan van Hest: trumpet; Ado Broodboom: trumpet; Wim Kat: trumpet, mellophone; Cees Smal: trumpet, valve trombone; Tinus Bruyn: alto sax; Piet Noordijk: alto sax; Herman Schoonderwalt: soprano, baritone sax; Theo Loevendie: soprano, alto sax; Joop Mastenbroek: tenor, baritone sax; Harry Verbeke: tenor sax; Toon van Vliet: tenor sax; Rudy Bosch: trombone; Marcel Thielemans: trombone; Erik van Lier: bass trombone; Cees Slinger: piano; Dick van der Capellen: bass; Jacques Schols: bass; John Engels: drums. Tracks 1, 2 – Add Benny Bailey: trumpet; omit Jacques Schols: bass. Track 2 – All brass out except Erik van Lier: bass trombone. Tracks 3-6 – Omit Schols: bass. Track 4 – Rob Langereis: bass, replaces Dick van der Capellen. Track 6 —Add Ted Curson: trumpet. Track 9 – Add Curson: trumpet; Chris Hinze: flute; Nelly Frijda: voice.