Friday, April 21, 2017

Art Van Damme Quintet - Sound & Martini

The hippest cat ever to swing an accordion, Art Van Damme dared go where no man had gone before: jazz accordion. He started taking accordion lessons at the age of nine, and moved on to classical studies after his family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1934. After leaving school. he played in a trio in local clubs under big band leader Ben Bernie hired him in 1941. He soon returned to Chicago, though, and continued to work the club circuit there throughout World War Two.
Van Damme was inspired by swing recordings, particularly Benny Goodman's, and in the late 1930s, he began experimenting, adapting Goodman solos to the accordion. Throughout his career, he would often be compared to Goodman, since the two were both classically trained, technical masters of their instruments, and versatile and creative jazz soloists. He formed a quintet with several of his studio colleagues, and recorded his first album, for the small label, Music Craft, in 1944.
More Cocktail Capers LPHe joined the staff of NBC Radio in Chicago in 1945 and remained a studio musician for over 15 years, even after he became a recording artist in his own right. His early style fits into a small but at the time quite popular niche between the cocktail piano sound and the accordion/guitar/organ sound of the Three Suns. In fact, his earliest albums for Capitol and Columbia all had titles that made this connection explicit : Cocktail Capers ; Martini Time ; Manhattan Time.
Despite liner notes that described this music as "background for badinage," these are excellent albums, if far more subdued that the bebop they shared the record bins with. Van Damme's introduction of the accordion as a featured jazz instrument was well-received critically, and in 1947, Downbeat magazine put his photo on the cover of one of their issues. He would go on to voted "Top Accordionist" in Downbeat's annual poll of jazz musicians for ten years in a row. Later, he was similarly recognized by Contemporary Keyboard magazine for five years in a row.
As time went on, Van Damme moved into more adventurous territory, closer to mainstream jazz. His later Columbia albums feature him at the lead of small, tight combos, and include a mix of standards and Van Damme's own slightly bebop-ish originals. Accordion a la Mode may be his best album, although A Perfect Match, in which he pairs with the fine jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, is a favorite among fans of what's been called "light jazz."
Van Damme never had a problem finding a gig, and performed at clubs and hotels throughout Europe and the U.S. Over the course of over fifty years of performing, he traveled to Europe nearly 40 times and played everywhere from the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, to the Blue Note in New York, to Disney World in Florida. He also appeared on numerous television shows, from "The Tonight Show" to "The Dinah Shore Show." In the early 1950s, his quintet also recorded over 130 15-minute segments for NBC Radio. He claims that his performing kept him so busy he never needed to practice, and says that he probably played his accordion at home less than six hours total in all that time.
After leaving NBC Radio in 1960, Van Damme opened a music store and accordion studio in Chicago, but he continued to tour regularly. He left the recording mainstream when his contract with Columbia Records ran out in 1965, but was quickly signed by the German jazz label, MPS, and went on to record 16 albums for them. Since 1980, he has recorded less frequently, usually for small jazz labels, including an excellent album with the group Singers Unlimited on the Pausa. He gradually shifted his focus from clubs to accordion and jazz workshops, telling one interview that, "The audience is more attentive and listens more intensely."
Although a number of other accordionists ventured into jazz territory after Van Damme broke the trail, he remains the acknowledged master. As one reviewer recently wrote, he dispatches "Right-hand runs with a velocity and lightness of touch that defied the presumed limitations of the instrument," while at the same time, "Consistently emphasizing the lyric contours of a melodic phrase rather than the lightning technical flourishes that led up to it."

Source :

Art Van Damme
Van Damme Sound
Martini Time


1 Carioca (Kahn, Eliscu, Youmans)   3:01
2 I'll Remember April (Raye, DePaul, Johnston)  2:42
3 Lullaby of Broadway (Dubin, Warren)  2:24
4 Early Autumn (Mercer, Burns, Herman)  3:03
5 Ol' Man River (Hammerstein II, Kern)  1:41
6 Slaughter On Tenth Avenue (Rodgers)  3:36
7 I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart (Redmond, Mills, Nemo, Ellington)  2:43
8 Thou Swell (Rodgers, Hart)  2:12
9 Deep Night (Vallee, Henderson)  3:00
10 Let's Fall In Love (Koehler, Arlen)  2:15
11 Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Koehler, Bloom)   2:43
12 Tea for Two (Caesar, Youmans)   2:33
13 Adios (Madriguera)   2:29
14 Blue Lou (Sampson, Mills)  2:06
15 Cheek To Cheek (Berlin)  3:06
16 Let Yourself Down (Van Damme, Doerschuk)   2:02
17 My Kinda Love (Alter, Trent)   2:46
18 I Hear Music (Loesser, Lane)  2:55
19 If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) (Creamer, Johnson)  2:30
20 I Didn't Know What Time it Was (Rodgers, Hart)  3:00
21 The Surrey With the Fringe On Top (Hammerstein, Rodgers)  2:42
22 Tenderly (Lawrence, Gross)  4:14
23 It's Easy to Remember (Rodgers, Hart)  2:55
24 Madame Van Damme (Van Damme, Doerschuk)  1:56


Art Van Damme - acc
Charlie Calzaretta - vb
Fred Rundquist - g
Lon Skalinder - b
Max Mariash - dr

Recorded [# 1-12] The Van Damme Sound (Columbia, CL-544), 1953 ? & [# 13-24] Martini Time (Columbia, CL-630), 1955 ?


Danneau said...

Ceci me paraît tout aussi intéressant que l'autre Van Damme. Gros remerciements.

Blue Eyes said...

Big thanks too, lovely albums!

PlantDoctor53 said...

I will make a Martini just for this. Thanks.

Phillip said...

My current rip of Martini Time is rather sad. This makes for a major improvement - many, many thanks.

Otis Foster said...

What amazes me is that there's enough of a contemporary audience for Van Damme to warrant a CD reissue. Thanks for sharing this with us, mel - brings back lots of memories.

deGallo said...

Ahhh..the great Fred Rundquist on guitar.
Many years ago I went to Fred's house in Chicago and played a little guitar with him in his living room. Later we went to see Joe Pass who was appearing in Chicago. Fred was a good friend of Carl "Albanus" Johnson (Albanus guitars) who made fine jazz guitars and violins in Chicago. When Carl died Fred acquired a lot of jazz guitar building equipment and rare wood for guitars from Carl's estate. I bought some wood from Fred and built 2 archtop guitars for myself while I worked in a luthier shop (Barker Guitars). Fred was a wonderful person. Thank you for this post.

ita diegues said...

Thank you Melanchthon.

Martooni said...

Thank you for the story deGallo. Thank you for what will be an upgrade in quality on this.

LaroSwing said...

Merci pour ces Art Van Damme pas si faciles que ça à trouver de nos jours!

Kovina Kris said...

Thank you Mel and thanks for the great story deGallo!

jazztap said...


neil said...

Missed this the first time around, mel; but it's the perfect partner for "A Perfect Match". Many thanks...

danair said...

Wonderful post mel,thanks very much.

Otis Foster said...

Thnx Mel. I have who idea who is sidemen were, and I've been listening for almost 60 years.

AmyBRAINS said...

Great REPOST!!
Many thanks, Melanchthon.

Luis said...

Thank you Melanchthon! It's a great update for my old mp3 128.

John Pickworth said...

Many thanks Mel !


Thanks alot mate. You are great

Julius L said...

Dear Melanchthon, I downloaded succesfully the links, but could you send me the password, PLEASE?

Julius L said...

Finally I could download the password from Rapidshare!

Melanchthon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sep troelstra said...

Many thanks!!

Links 1 and 3 are the same, i.e. both are link 1 and the 3rd link is missing as such.

Big T said...

Hi there from South Africa
The Last Zippy download link is the same as the first one.

Melanchthon said...

Anonymous said...

You're a bloody Pro, MM. Scary.

jazzandylan said...

Mny thanks Mel - two great albums!

cvllos said...

Thank you, Melanchthon! By the way, we appreciate on these notes some historic facts: deGallo's memory, some tender facts (hugs, my friend!) and possibily some of the last Luis searches (may God bless him).

Historicus said...

Thanks a lot!!!

daniel genovese said...

Thank you.

Fred Archtop said...

Thank you very much Mel.

Otis Foster said...

A name rescued from obscurity and well worth it. Thnx melanchthon