Sandy Brown Jazz


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Jazz Remembered


Art Van Damme


Alan Bond says: 'One name that seems never to have cropped up in SBJ is that of Art van Damme. I hadn't heard a lot of his stuff until Art Van Damme QuintetHumph played a couple of tracks on his 'Best of Jazz' radio show a few years back and it wasn't until recently that I have been able to get hold of any of his music, and then I found dozens of tracks on Amazon so I now have a mighty collection which is good listening for the car.'

'A mate of mine describes his work as 'a bit Light Programme' but I find it very pleasant and relaxing and he swings like mad. Load of clips on YouTube too. In addition there are at least another four accordion players who got well into the be-bop idiom and boy, what a feast. Sadly Art and several of the others are no longer with us.'


The Art Van Damme Quintet


Art Van Damme was a rare creature - a jazz accordion player. He was born in Michigan in 1920 and had already started to play the accordion from the age of nine. His family moved to Chicago in 1934 at which point Art began to study classical music. In 1941, Art joined Ben Bernie's band, adapting Benny Goodman's music to the accordion.

Here is a video of Art Van Damme playing Satin Doll with another accordion player, Tony Dannon, in 1997.




For fifteen years from 1945, he worked for NBC (America's National Broadcasting Company) and performed on shows such as The Dinah Shore Show and The Dave Garroway Show, as well as his own fifteen minute show that ran for 130 episiodes. He regularly won the Down Beat Readers' Poll for the accordion and passed through the Departure Lounge in 2010 at the age of 89.

Here is Art playing Neal Hefti's Cute with a quartet of vibes, guitar, drums and bass on his 80th birthday in 2001.




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