Saturday, December 20, 2014

15 years Jazz at the Crow

This month the Jazz at the Crow jams are celebrating their 15th anniversary. Since december 1999, the Crow jams have been taking place twice a month and they are still drawing a loyal crowd of local jazz musicians, mostly amateur but some pros too. As one of the founding fathers of the Crow jams and concerts, it is time to look back on 15 years at the Crow.

I got the idea of a local jazz jam somewhere in the fall of 1999, together with the piano player of the jazz combo I was in at the time. We knew there were quite a few amateur jazz musicians  and even some pros in the area and it seemed like a good idea to create a meeting place for them. There was this cafe that I had played at several times and that seemed to program some jazz to begin with and when we approached the owner, we soon came to an agreement to host two sessions every month.

It seemed like a good idea, for, right from the beginning we could count on a loyal following of local players. There were few to no slow nights at the Crow. After a year, on 12 december 2000,  we celebrated our first birthday with a guest appearance of Jesse van Ruller and the idea of "special guests" was born at that time. We started looking for sponsors to afford them and formed a team to promote the Crow activities in a foundation called "Live Jazz Promotions."

With Yuri Honing
The following 3 years at the Crow were very exciting and inspiring and, for me, absolutely the best years at the Crow. After Jesse van Ruller in 2000, I jammed with such Dutch jazz greats as tenors Yuri Honing, Ferdinand Povel, and Hans Dulfer, bassist Tony Overwater and guitarist Anton Goudsmit in 2001. That year was really a highlight in the Crow history. The house was often packed and there we were, a bunch of jazz rookies playing with the creme de la creme of Dutch jazz.

With Anton Goudsmit

With John Engels

With Hans Mantel

This went on for a few more years. I got to play with trumpet player Eric Vloeimans, Hammond players Arno Krijger and Carlo de Wijs, jazz singer Carmen Gomez, drummer John Engels and bass player Hans Mantel, all of them big names in Dutch jazz.

Meanwhile one of the members of our foundation started programming concerts next to our jams and I attended many great concerts over the years too. The Crow actually became a genuine jazz stage.

In addition, we held jazz guitar nights and later even jazz clinics were organised. I created a website with live recordings at the Crow that were streamed by people all over the world in the early 2000s.

Jazz Guitar Night 2006 with Matt Otten, me, Hans van Leeuwen and Herbie Guldenaar
I left the organisation somewhere in the mid 2000s. Somehow we stopped inviting guests at our jam and the emphasis of the foundation shifted to programming concerts, which I had very little interest in. The jams went on but over the years I stopped going more and more because I felt it was more of the same thing every two weeks. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted more. In 2008 I left the local jazz scene completely for 5 years, after some disappointing experiences.

With Arno Krijger

Meanwhile, other people took over hosting the jams and though the jazz concerts stopped too a few years ago due to declining audiences and difficulties in finding sponsors, the initial idea of a local jazz jam stage is still going strong at the Crow. When I returned from my jazz sabbatical in 2013 and started to play at the Crow again, many of the original players of the first years had left but new and young players still show up regularly to fill in the gaps.

These days I have moved on to new things. I host my own jazz jam in a different town and I play with different people and even feel quite different about jazz music but the Crow jams are still very much a part of my personal history. "A bit like your kid", to quote a friend. And we all know kids go their own way after a while.

My current jazz jam at the Oxhead

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