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Festival Big Band - 'Explosive!' [CD]

Festival Big Band




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The 'Sensational concert', 'fascinating big band', 'orchestral fireworks', 'one of the best orchestras ever heard in this country': the critics were unanimous in their praise of this music when it was performed at the Jazz Festival Loosdrecht in the summer of 1971 by seventeen top musicians from different countries under the leadership of Jerry van Rooyen.Fortunately, during the four days of rehearsals preceding the concert the same compositions were also recorded for later use. The complete results were aired on Radio One. Six months later all the recordings except one were released on an LP called "Explosive". The missing track is included on this CD.

Looking back after so many years producer Joop de Roo still remembers clearly that he got the idea for this event at the recording sessions in Hilversum for the album "Rita Reys meets Oliver Nelson" in l965: "The way this American bandleader and arranger managed to get the most out of an occasional group of musicians from different countries really impressed me very much. It must be possible to do something similar with a big band, I said to myself, with ideally a concert to top it off."

Three years later De Roo was able to realize this intention for the first time by assembling an international big band in a studio in Blaricum: "During an intense three day workshop ten pieces were recorded under the direction of Rob Pronk. Most of them were also written and arranged by him. They later came out on a CD entitled 'It happened yesterday'. It really was a very stimulating experiment. When in l971 the Loosdrecht festival offered a new opportunity, I thought it would be a good idea to have Jerry as the leader this time. He had the necessary talent and experience, of course. But in front of a band he is also a very stimulating personality, really capable of generating a tremendous flow of energy. We know each other very well because we were schoolmates in the forties and have always kept in touch since then".

In those early days Van Rooyen and his brother Ack started out as trumpet players, but later on Jerry turned to composing, arranging and conducting, mostly for radio orchestras. He went to Germany in the sixties, where he was asked to lead the big band of "Sender Freies Berlin" (SFB) for a few years. In an interview during the sessions for these festival band recordings he called this project 'the chance of a lifetime'. He added: "The dedication and cooperation of the musicians is terrific. They just love each other". (At the festival concert of the band - which I attended as a journalist - it became quite clear that he was not exaggerating. What impressed me most of all was the power and the perfect teamwork of the trumpet section).

Five of the band members came from the U.S.A., two from Sweden, one from England and the others from Holland. Most of them were top jazz musicians who found employment in the studios of broadcasting organizations in Europe. But they met and played together quite often in different combinations at festivals or other jazz orientated events. Six weeks before the Loosdrecht festival, for instance, eight of them participated in a recording date of tenor player Stan Getz and The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band for Verve in Cologne.
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