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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Rita Reys born 21 December 1924

Rita Reys (born Maria Everdina Reijs;  21 December 1924 – 28 July 2013) was a jazz singer from the Netherlands. At the 1960 French jazz festival of Juan-les-Pins, she received the title, "Europe's first lady of jazz".
Rita Reys was born in Rotterdam and – with a violinist/conductor for a father and a dancer for a mother – grew up taking performance for granted. As a child, she heard only classical music at home, but as a teenage singer,she began winning local talent competitions. At 19, when she met the jazz drummer Wessel Ilcken, she was introduced to jazz. She married Ilcken, joined his sextet and toured the Netherlands. She appeared with the bassist Ted Powder in Belgium and Luxembourg, and with the Piet van Dijk orchestra in Spain and north Africa, between 1945 and 1950.
Reys then began leading her own group with Ilcken, toured England, and, after moving to Stockholm in 1953, made her first recordings with leading Swedish musicians including the baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin. She also got acquainted with many American artists regularly visiting the country, including Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young and the trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Clifford Brown and Art Farmer.

The Columbia Records producer George Avakian invited her to the US in 1956, and she recorded The Cool Voice of Rita Reys with an A-list bebop lineup including Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Donald Byrd, musicians with whom she also performed at New York's Village Vanguard. Reys also worked in the US with the organist Jimmy Smith, began a lifelong friendship with Bennett and later returned to the Vanguard with the drummer Chico Hamilton's band.

Ilcken died of a brain haemorrhage in 1957. Reys stayed on the road to support herself and their daughter, Leila – working in Germany with the celebrated bandleader Kurt Edelhagen and pianist Bengt Hallberg, and in Paris with Young. Reys also began performing with Ilcken's pianist Pim Jacobs, whom she married in 1960.

            Here's "Falling In Love With Love" from above album

In 1969 she became the first Dutch jazz singer to perform at the New Orleans jazz festival (the city went on to make her a citizen of honour 11 years later). In middle age, Reys shifted toward a more broadly popular repertoire, collaborating with the conductor and arranger Rogier van Otterloo and his orchestra on Rita Reys Sings Burt Bacharach and Rita Reys Sings Michel Legrand (both of which won the Dutch music industry's Edison award), and later on songbook projects dedicated to George Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Reys was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, but kept the news from the press and was back onstage with Jacobs at a sold-out Amsterdam Concertgebouw within weeks of surgery – a gig she subsequently recognised as "a new start". She made a Christmas album with Jacobs and Amsterdam's Metropole Orchestra in 1986. She also recorded two American Songbook albums with Jacobs – these were their last recordings before his death from cancer in 1996.

Accompanied by the pianist Lex Jasper, Reys went back on the road, recorded the albums Loss of Love – Rita Reys Sings Henry Mancini and (for her 75th birthday) The Lady Strikes Again, and in 2004 collaborated on the autobiography Rita Reys, Lady Jazz with the journalist Bert Vuijsje.

She dedicated the 2004 album Beautiful Love to Jacobs and made the 2010 album Young at Heart with the saxophonist Scott Hamilton and the organist Thijs van Leer. An inspiringly spirited and much-loved artist whose reputation in the Netherlands never waned, Reys' remarkable life in her homeland fulfilled Legrand's prediction, after her 1972 interpretations of his work: "From now on, every time I will write a song, I will think of the great Rita Reys, who sings the love songs with such love, that I really love her – and you will too."

On 28 July 2013, Reys died at the age of 88 in Breukelen, The Netherlands. (Info mainly from

Rita Reys performing Mr. Wonderful accompanied by the Pim Jacobs Trio and special guest Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone, during a TV program that was broadcast on Dutch public television in 1979 on occasion of Rita's album That Old Feeling.


boppinbob said...

For Rita Reys – The Cool Voice Vol. 1 & 2 go here:

01 – It’s Alright With Me.mp3
02 – Gone With The Wind.mp3
03 – My Funny Valentine.mp3
04 – But Not For Me.mp3
05 – I Should Care.mp3
06 – There Will Never Be Another You.mp3
07 – I Cried For You.mp3
08 – You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.mp3
09 – My One And Only Love.mp3
10 – That Old Black Magic.mp3
11 – Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year.mp3
12 – Taking A Chance On Love.mp3
13 – Old Devil Moon.mp3
14 – Star Eyes.mp3
15 – The Song Is You.mp3
16 – Keepin’ Myself For You.mp3
17 – Falling In Love With You.mp3
18 – Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.mp3
19 – He’s My Guy.mp3
20 – There Is No Greater Love.mp3
21 – Please Be Kind.mp3
22 – Where Are You.mp3
23 – They Didn’t Believe Me.mp3
24 – Only A Moment Ago.mp3

A big thank you to San Jose 72 for original postings

Jimmie Dee said...

What a sweet voice she had.

Eric said...

This is a new voice to me and I am looking forward to the download finishing so I can hear it, Thank you.

ProfessorCalculus said...

Is it possible to re-up this please.
Thank You.

boppinbob said...

Here's the new link