The Bob Rigter Quartet – LOVE YOU MADLY

(Munich Records BMCD 315).

Contents: 1. Love you madly; 2. A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square; 3. The touch of your lips; 4. The rainbow people; 5. I’m old-fashioned; 6. Everything happens to me; 7. On a misty night; 8. Polka dots and moonbeams; 9. I’ll never smile again, until I smile at you. 10. Don’t explain. 

From the booklet:                                                                 Interested? Mail: 

LOVE YOU MADLY is the right title for this great collection of songs, so skilfully selected and executed by Bob Rigter and his soulmates. For who could not immediately fall for the smooth and swinging way these four gentlemen go about their task. Never obtrusive or aggressive, it actually sounds as if time had stood still! For the music does take me back to almost 50 years ago, when both Bob and I were trying to get through High School and we formed our own little band in Leiden.

Looking back, I must admit those were great times. We wanted to hear everything and play it right after, eager as the young ones were. What great triumph, when we discovered a new change, a new twist, or a new rhythmic venture in our wonderful world of JAZZ !!!

Now, 50 years later, after all has been said and done so many times, it is truly refreshing to listen to music that has withstood the times and has been with us for almost as long as we can remember. One can only be grateful for the fact that this, our music, is still being performed in the way we want it to be played, the way we feel it, straightforward, from the heart (no bull…) !

Listen to Bob’s mellow notes especially in the ballads, as he closely follows the beautiful lyrics. Lyrics have always been the guiding part for most of the great jazz-soloists. Also dig his paraphrasing, a sure sign of knowledge for those who really know!!

It is obvious the group has been together for quite
some time. Han van der Rhee is a sober, very functional accompanist, who, as a good pianist, knows what to leave out and when! Simon Planting, an excellent bass-player with a great-sounding instrument, delivers some strong solos. Rob Engels is a sure-handed and -footed percussionist who is at ease with sticks and brushes alike.

I could go on for hours, about the repertoire, the significance of the lyrics, the meaning of all the notes, etc. etc., but I won’t. As Billie Holiday said: Don’t explain.

So put your player on and enjoy LOVE YOU MADLY!                                                                       
                                                                                                                       Cees Schrama (Host of TROS-SESJUN)  

About the musicians:

Bob Rigter (1934) played with Don Byas in ’56. He was asked by Ben Webster to play on Ben’s saxophone at his last concert (6 Sept.’73). His album ‘Touching You’ appeared in ’87 (with Simon Planting on bass). Bob played with Scott Hamilton in ’92 (with Rob Engels on drums). In ’95 he published the novel Jazz in de Oostzee (‘This sure ain’t no novel for no squares, man!’ (Martin Schouten in De Volkskrant)). In ’96 a live broadcast of his quintet (with Bob and his son Simon on tenor sax, Han v.d. Rhee piano, Hanz de Waard bass, Rob Engels drums) resulted in a cd: ‘Five on the Rigter Scale – Live in Sesjun’. In ’99 his novel Langarm was nominated for a prestigious Dutch/Belgian literary prize. 

Han van der Rhee (1946) started out as the pianist of Freek de Jonge, who developed into one of Holland’s great comedians. As a medical student, Han led a trio playing in the style of Oscar Peterson. When he was completing his dissertation in dermatology in ‘79, he stopped playing gigs, but continued to listen intently to Bill Evans. As soon as he found the time to play jazz again, he frequently joined the Bob Rigter Quartet from ’82 onwards. He also continued his piano studies under the expert guidance of pianist/arranger/composer Udo van Boven. Since ’92, Han has been the regular pianist in the quartet. 

Simon Planting (1953) was discovered by Bob Rigter, playing a jam session in the Haarlem Jazz Club in ’78. He joined Bob’s quartet for four years, and then moved on. He played his bass all over Europe, toured the USA with Loek Dikker’s band and did a lot of radio and television work. In ’87 he was back in Bob’s quartet. Apart from other commitments, he now divides his time between the Bob Rigter Quartet and the band of Mathilde Santing, a renowned Dutch singer. 

Rob Engels (1950) is the brother of the famous drummer John Engels, and clearly has the same genetic make up. When things start cooking, he sounds like Elvin Jones. In more relaxed moods he creates a subtle but always powerful groove. His talent for groovin’ was appreciated by the many jazz musicians who played with him. Among those were Scott Hamilton and the Dutch tenorists Harry Verbeke and Ruud Brink. Rob played a number of years with Al Rogers and James Long, and joined the Bob Rigter Quartet in ’89.

After hours…

Cees Schrama’s liner notes brought home to me that time flies. Yet, through the years, the enthusiasm and the fascination with the music have remained. I suppose that is how playing and enjoying jazz keeps us young. I was twelve when I fell in love with jazz music. Late at night, I used to tune in to AFN Frankfurt or Munich, hoping to hear Lester Young. Jazz was magic. Inspired by Lester’s tone and lyricism, I decided to be a tenor player. I saved money for an old clarinet and taught myself to play. When I was seventeen, my clarinet-playing had earned me a tenor sax. I played by ear, and tried to master all the beautiful songs I heard.  Once I knew the lyrics, the music started to come out naturally. I was convinced Lester also knew the lyrics to the songs he played.

In the forties and the fifties, people danced and jived and jitterbugged to jazz. The band had to swing and the dancers listened to every note, in order to be one with the music. After closing-time, there were sometimes people who lingered, while the chairs were being stacked on the tables. And once in a while, we felt like playing some more. Drinks were handed round, lights were dimmed and in an intimate, after-hours mood, we started to play tunes that were special, mostly ballads.

This cd breathes the atmosphere of those nights when we played on into the late, late hours. Even the length of the recorded tunes is somehow reminiscent of the old 78 r.p.m. discs.   

Through the years, we have ripened, and all of the songs on this cd have acquired a rich patina of associations with the people and places where we played. To me, still, the lyrics are always there. Take for example A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square. I knew the lyrics before I had ever heard this beautiful (British) ballad, for I had read Nevil Shute’s novel Pastoral, in which a war-pilot hums this song on his way home in a bullet-riddled plane after a raid on Germany. He has lost radio-contact and he has little chance of making it back. His girl-friend is the radio-operator at the airfield. He cannot hear her, but she can hear him! And, while his bomber is slowly going down, she hears him humming: ‘The streets of town were paved with stars. It was such a romantic affair. And as we kissed and said goodnight, a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.’ Or take Everything happens to me, with that beautiful phrase ‘I’ve mortgaged all my castles in the air’. Or take the lyrics of Billie Holiday’s ballad Don’t explain, which I won't explain: the atmosphere of the ballad speaks for itself.

We have played these tunes straight from the heart. We have
played them as you hear them. No cutting, no splicing, no dubbing. And the way we play is the way we feel. We are not pouring out a bag of tricks, but simply singing out the melodies in our minds.This is the kind of jazz the musicians in my quartet believe in, and it is the kind of jazz that our audiences believe in. I count myself lucky to be working with Han van der Rhee and Simon Planting and Rob Engels, because of the way we can really get together in this after-hours mood. 

Now, why not turn down the lights, pour out a drink, sit back and listen. And if you feel like dancing, or cuddling up, be my guest!  

Bob Rigter        

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