October 22, 2008

perdido/i know what you know ~ art van damme

Art Van Damme is a jazz accordionist born to Belgian parents on april 9, 1920 in Norway, Michigan USA

He began playing the accordion at age nine and started classical studies when his family moved to Chicago in 1934. He played clarinet for four years.

Van Damme was inspired by swing recordings, particularly Benny Goodman's and in the late 1930s he began experimenting, adapting Goodman clarinet solos to the excelsior 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.

"How I developed my style was in my first trio with jazz accordion, saxophone and drums. The saxophone player was a great improviser and I would try and copy him."

In 1944, Art made his first recording on the Music Craft label.
He joined the NBC staff in Chicago in 1945 and spent 15 years producing radio and TV shows.

After leaving NBC Radio in 1960, Van Damme opened a music store and accordion studio in Chicago but continued to tour regularly. He gradually shifted his focus from clubs to accordion and jazz workshops, telling one interviewer that "the audience is more attentive and listens more intensely."

Art recorded 42 albums plus a number of singles on 45-RPM and 78-RPM records for various labels such as Capital, Columbia, and MPS of West Germany, recording with, amongst others, Joe Pass, Joe Stafford, the Dinning Sisters and Harry James.

With his quintet he worked with many top entertainers including Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Buddy De Franco and Dizzy Gillespie.

In an effort to create a new sound for the accordion, he recorded several albums where he combined the accordion with strings, brass, flute and a vocal group, Singers Unlimited.

He made 37 trips to Europe and Australia where he performed live concerts and appeared as a guest performer on radio and TV.

Besides having the group in the top ten instrumental categories for many years in Billboard and Playboy magazine polls, Art Van Damme was voted top jazz accordionist in Downbeat's polls for ten consecutive years.

"You can be taught how to improvise as far as playing the chords, but the person performing has got to have that special feel for real improvising. You can play the same notes that somebody else plays, but those notes would never sound the same."

Art Van Damme is married, has three children and six grandchildren. Although he retired to Florida, he continued to perform after the age of 75.

Personnel in the Art Van Damme Quintet:

Art Van Damme (accordion)
Chuck Calzaretta (vibraphone)
Claude Scheiner (guitar)
Lou Skalinder (bass)
Max Mariash (percussion)


* Cocktail Capers, Capitol T178
* More Cocktail Capers, Capitol T300
* More Cocktail Capers, Capitol H300 (10")
* The Van Damme Sound, Columbia CL-544
* Martini Time, Columbia CL-630
* Martini Time, Columbia CL-6265 (10")
* Manhattan Time, Columbia CL-801
* Art Van Damme & Miss Frances Bergen, Columbia CL873
* The Art Of Van Damme, Columbia CL-876
* They're Playing Our Song, Columbia CL-1227
* Everything's Coming Up Music, Columbia CL-1382/CS-8177
* Accordion a la Mode, Columbia CL-1563/CS-8363
* Art Van Damme Swings Sweetly, Columbia CL-1794/CS 8594
* A Perfect Match (with Johnny Smith), Columbia CL-2013/CS-8813
* House Party, Columbia CL-2585
* Septet, Columbia CS-8992
* Music For Lovers, Harmony (Columbia) HS 11239
* Many Mood Of Art, BASF MC 25113
* Star Spangled Rhythm, BASF MC 25157 (2 record set)
* Art In The Black Forest, MPS (West Germany) MPS 15172
* Art Van Damme & Four Brothers, MPS (West Germany) MPS 15236
* Lullaby In Rhythm, MPS (West Germany) MPS 15 171
* State Of Art, MPS (West Germany) 841 413 2
* On The Road, MPS (West Germany) MPS 15235
* Blue World, Pausa PR 7027
* Keep Going, Pausa PR 7104
* Squeezin' Art & Tender Flutes, Pausa PR 7126
* Art Van Damme & Friends, Pausa PR 7151
* The Art Of Van Damme, Phillips (Holland) B 07189
* Pa Kungliga Djurgarden, Pi (Sweden), PLP 005
* Lover Man, Pickwick SPC 3009
* By Request, Sonic Arts Digital LS12
* Ecstasy, SABA (West Germany) SB 15115 ST
* In San Francisco, SABA (West Germany) SB 15073 ST
* Art & Liza, Svenska Media AB (Sweden), SMTE 5003
* Once Over Lightly/Manhattan Time, Collectables CD
* Van Damme Sound/Martini Time, Collectables CD

with Jo Stafford
* Once over Lightly, Columbia CL-968
* A Perfect Match, Columbia CS-8813

cover art by jim flora

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