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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Art Van Damme born 9 April 1920


Art Van Damme (April 9, 1920  – February 15, 2010) was a jazz accordionist.
Born April 9th 1920 in Norway, Michigan, and brought up in Chicago, Art Van Damme took up the piano accordion in 1929 at the age of nine, and was classically trained before discovering jazz as a teenager – inspired by the recordings of Benny Goodman.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.
In 1941 he joined Ben Bernie's band as an accordionist. He formed a quintet with several of his studio colleagues, and recorded his first album, for the small label, Music Craft, in 1944. From 1945 to 1960 he worked for NBC, performing on ‘The Dinah Shore Show’, ‘Tonight’, ‘The Dave Garroway Show’, and other radio and TV shows with Garroway. He also accompanied singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee and instrumentalist like Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy DeFranco.
He recorded 130 episodes of the 15-minute ‘The Art Van Damme Show’ for NBC Radio, and from the 1940s onwards also enjoyed a successful and extended recording career. Van Damme toured Europe and was also popular with jazz listeners in Japan, and regularly won the US ‘Downbeat’ magazine reader's poll for his instrument. He also toured in Russia and New Zealand. 
In 1965 Van Damme signed with MPS Records of Germany and has recorded 16 albums during that time. He has been voted top jazz accordionist for ten consecutive years in the annual Downbeat poll and for four consecutive years in the annual Contemporary Keyboard poll. Art’s appearances on radio and TV, seminars, tours and clinics in the United States and Europe have numbered in the hundreds.
In 2005, Art Van Damme, Myron Floren and Dick Contino – three all-American accordion legends – were all honoured at the Las Vegas Accordion Convention, and the following year Art was the chief guest at the ‘Accordions International 2006’ festival, held at Caister, UK.
Art Van Damme, in his prime years, played so many gigs in clubs, hotels and concert stages across the USA and Europe that it is said that he never needed to do any practice. He was constantly in action, developing and honing his skills and repertoire, pioneering the use of the accordion as a jazz lead instrument.Although he had retired to Arizona then Scaramento, California, he announced at his 75th birthday party that he intended to hang up his squeezebox for good, telling one interview that he felt like he'd played enough for one lifetime, but he continued to perform occasionally, appearing at clubs throughout the U.S. until as late as 2008.
So influential was Art’s playing style that he has influenced most of the western world’s jazz accordionists. One musicologist made the following neat comment: “The hippest cat ever to swing an accordion, Art Van Damme dared go where no man had gone before: jazz accordion”.
Art Van Damme died on February 15th 2010. He was 89 years old, and had been ill with pneumonia for several weeks. He had three children and six grandchildren.  
(Info edited from various sources mainly accordion .com & Wikipedia)
Art on his 75th birthday performing as a trio in Detroit USA in 1995. At the end of this video, Art announces his retirement. He hung up his straps for several months, got lonesome, and resumed played as hot as ever.

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Art Van Damme - Van Damme Sound & Martini Time go here:

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