Art Van Damme – Ecstasy (1967)

FrontCover1.jpgCalled “The hippest cat ever to Swing an accordion”, Art Van Damme was born in the small town of Norway, Michigan in 1920. The 40’s and 50’s saw the classically trained Van Damme revolutionize the way the accordion was played, removing it from its stereotyped role as a polka playmate; in 1947 Van Damme made the cover of the prestigious jazz magazine Downbeat and was voted “Top Accordionist” 10 years in a row. He starred on such popular American TV programs as “Today”, “The Dinah Shore Show”, and “The Tonight Show”, and toured Europe some 40 times. With his decision to combine guitar and vibes with accordion, Van Dam’s groups developed a unique sound early-on. His recordings with MPS were some of his best, given the company’s predilection of allowing the musicians a free hand. As one reviewer put it, Van Damme played “…right-hand runs with a velocity and lightness of touch that defied the presumed limitations of the instrument, consistently emphasizing the lyric contours of a melodic phrase rather than the lightning technical flourishes that led up to it.”


Ecstasy  was recorded in 1967 with the MPS “house” rhythm section at that time, German bassist Peter White, and Swiss drummer Charly Antolini. Van Damme brought along his Chicago compatriot, guitarist Freddy Rundquist, and German vibes player Herbert Thusek was added to the mix to keep the front-line guitar-vibes-accordion “Van Damme sound” intact. The three albums offer a wide range of standards played with taste and unpretentious virtuosity.

Recorded at the MPS-Tonstudio in Villingen/Germany, March 1967


Charly Antolini (drums)
Art van Damme (accordion)
Freddie Rundquist (guitar)
Heribert Thusek (vibraphone)
Peter Witte (bass)


01. Satin Doll (Ellington/Mercer/Strayhorn) 3.12
02. Autumn In New York (Duke/Vernon) 2.56
03. Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair (Foster) 2.20
04. Blue Light And Shadows (Brunner-Schwer) 2.48
05. Love Walked In (Gershwin) 2.57
06. It Could Happen To You (Burke/v.Heusen) 3.37
07. Ecstasy (v.Damme) 2.41
08. Swanee (Caesar/Gershwin) 2.26
09. Since I Fell For You (Buddy/Johnson) 4.25
10. Easy Swing (Fruth) 2.29
11. Nancy With The Laughing Face (v.Heusen/Silvers) 4.03



Art Van Damme – With Strings (1979)

FrontCover1Art Van Damme, a legendary jazz musician has given the Accordion a whole new unique sound that is internationally recognized. He has combined the Accordion with Guitar and Vibes, and a rhythm section of Bass and Drums, thus creating a unique sound, and with the harmonic melodies and jazz rhythms they produce, truly separated them from any other musical group.

And you´ll find more informations about Art van Damme in this blog … click !

Art Van Damme with Strings represents something special in MPS’s Van Damme catalogue – Art’s first recording with strings. The accordion-guitar-vibes frontline is still there, but two young up-and-coming German giants of the European jazz scene, bassist Eberhard Weber and guitarist Siggi Schwab, add a new sound to this edition of the quintet. The song choices are also something special, with a discerning mixture of standards, ballads, sambas and bossas, and a soul-jazz classic. Van Damme takes a spirited happy-go-lucky solo on the Rogers and Hart standard Mountain Greenery. He shows his command of Brazilian rhythms in his sophisticated renderings the classic bossa How Insensitive and Summer Samba (So Nice).

Booklet01AThere are beautiful interpretations of the ballads Polka Dots And Moonbeams, We’ve Only Just Begun, and Moonlight In Vermont, and Van Damme’s solo on Nat Adderley’s Work Song lets the listener know the man has soul. To end the album, Van Damme and Co surprise by playing the Jobim bossa Quiet Nights with a bouncy swing feel interspersed with some lightning-quick accordion runs. With lush string backgrounds and a superb quintet to spur him on, Van Damme plays at his lyrical best.

CD FrontCover

CD FrontCover

Charly Antolini (drums)
Art van Damme (accordion)
Sigi Schwab (guitar)
Heribert Thusek (vibraphone)
Eberhard Weber (bass)
The String Orchestra Hubert Deuringer

01. Perdido (Tizol) 2.43
02. Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Burke/van Heusen) 3.11
03. Mountain Greenery (Rodgers/Hart) 2.25
04. We’ve Only Just Begun (Williams/Nickels) 3.26
05. So Nice (Valle/Gimbel) 2.53
06. What’s New (Haggart/Burke) 4.07
07. On A Clear Day (Lerner/Lane) 3.19
08. How Insensitive (Jobim/Gimbel/de Moraes) 3.45
09. Work Song (Adderley/Brown) 2.32
10. Moonlight In Vermont (Blackburn/Suessdorf) 3.57
11. A Man And A Woman (Lai/Barouh) 1.59
12. Quiet Nights (Jobim/Lees) 3.04


The Art van Damme Quintett – Keep Going (1971)

FrontCover1Art Van Damme, a legendary jazz musician has given the Accordion a whole new unique sound that is internationally recognized. He has combined the Accordion with Guitar and Vibes, and a rhythm section of Bass and Drums, thus creating a unique sound, and with the harmonic melodies and jazz rhythms they produce, truly separated them from any other musical group.

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 doing Radio and TV Shows. Art with his Quintet worked with many top entertainers such as Dave Garraway, Hugh Downs, Ranson Sherman, Howard Miller, Bob and Kay, and Dennis James. The Quintet did a number of spots for top singers and instrumentalist, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Buddy De Franco, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Art has recorded 42 Albums plus a number of Singles on 45 RPM and 78-RPM recorders. His recordings were on various labels such as Capital, Columbia, and MPS of West Germany. Some of the top artists that recorded with Art were Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, Joe Stafford, Francis Bergman, the Dinning Sisters, and Harry James. In an effort to create a new sound for the Accordion, Art recorded several Albums were he combined the Accordion with Strings, Brass, Flutes, and with the vocal group, Singers Unlimited.

VDamme01Art has made 37 trips to Europe and Australia, were he did live concerts, and appeared as a guest performer on Radio, TV. He has also appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carlson, the Mike Douglas Show, the Lawrence Welk Show, and the Dinah Shore Show. His nightclub work included the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, Sahara in LakeTahoe, Beneventure Hotel in Montreal, Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver, Harrah’s in Reno, and Disney World in Florida.

Besides having the group in the top ten instrumental categories for many years in Billboard, Metroname, and Playboy Magazine Polls, Art Van Damme was voted Top Jazz Accordionist in Downbeat Magazine’s Polls for ten consecutive years. He was also voted Top Accordionist in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine from 1976 to 1980. The five-year dominance of C.K. Polls has put Art in the ” Gallery of Greats”. Plus, the Quintet made more transcriptions than any other small group, including 139 individual quarter-hour shows for RCA Thesaurus and also many commercial spots.

Art Van Damme is undoubtedly one of the finest virtuosos of the instrument. He is to the Accordion what Benny Goodman is to the Clarinet. His precise control of the bellows that has allowed him to accent every note on the instrument along with his stunning technique he extracts, gives him such a unique sound that it is hard to believe your hearing an Accordion. He has done more in helping to recognize the Accordion as a jazz instrument than any other performer. Many of us truly believe, he is the World Greatest Jazz Accordionist.

This is one of his brilliant recordings for the famous MPS Jazz-Label featuring musicians like Joe Pass and Eberhard Weber … a wonderful album !

Kenny Clare (drums)
Art Van Damme (accordion)
Joe Pass (guitar)
Heribert Thusek (Vibraphone)
Eberhard Weber (bass)

01. Turnabout (v.Damme/Calzaretta)    2:22
02. Sunday Kind Of Love (Belle/Prima/Leonard/Rhodes) 2.03
03. I Want To Be Happy (Caesar/Youmans/Gravengaard) 2.12
04. Tenderly (Gross/Lawrence/Fuchsberger) 3.18
05. Gone With The Wind (Wrubel/Magidson/Bowman/Bowland) 3.22
06. Everything I’ve Got (Rodgers) 2.20
07. Let Yourself Down (v.Damme/Doerschuk) 2.00
08. Green Dolphin Street (Kaper/Washington) 3.41
09. I Saw Stars (Siglar/Goodhart/Hoffman) 2.17
10. Small World (Styne/Sondheim) 2.15
11. It’s Easy To Reemember (Hart/Rodgers) 2.57
12. The Man I Love (Gershwin) 2.08



Art Van Damme ‎– Squeezing Art & Tender Flutes (1973)

FrontCover1Born 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. In 1941 he joined Ben Bernie’s band as an accordionist, then 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 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 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.

ArtVAnDamme01Art 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.

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. Although he had retired to Arizona then Scaramento, California, he continued to perform nearly to the age of 90. (by Rob Howard)

And this is one of his excellent albums from his MPS period … Listen and enjoy !

Recorded at MPS-Studio, Villingen/Germany, Black Forest, June 1972
Arranged and conducted by Christian Schmitz-Steinberg

Art Van Damme (accordion)
Branislav Kovacev (drums)
Kurt Kümpel (flute)
Milan Pilar (bass)
Rudi Risavy (flute)
Siggi Schwab (guitar)
Heribert Thusek (flute)
Hans Wolf (flute)

01. Cheers (Mancini) 2.58
02. Deep Night (Henderson/Vallee) 3.20
03. Hot Action (Fruth) 2.52
04. Viniette (Arberg) 3.36
05. Patou (Häusser) 2.40
06. I Only Have Eyes For You (Warren/Dubin) 3.08
07. Pick Yourself Up (Shearing) 2.12
08. Paco (Gretsch) 2.39
09. Your Turn (Schmitz/Steinberg) 3.04
10. How Will I Forget? (Ogerman) 4.31
11. A Foggy Day (Gershwin) 3.05
12. Best Things For You (IBerlin) 3.01


Alternate Label

Alternate Label