In the first years of its existence the Atlantic Quintet is one of the most popular modern style jazz combos in the Netherlands. Later the quintet's visibility for Dutch fans diminishes, since its work area nearly completely shifts to the American occupation zone in Germany. With the American military the ...
Biography Atlantic Quintet
In the first years of its existence the Atlantic Quintet is one of the most popular modern style jazz combos in the Netherlands. Later the quintet's visibility for Dutch fans diminishes, since its work area nearly completely shifts to the American occupation zone in Germany. With the American military the Atlantics can show their professionalism, resulting in a long stay there. The music is 'something-for-everybody', considering the soldiers' wide range of tastes. When this formula seems to have run its course in the seventies, because of the rise of pop music, the musicians decide to call it quits.
Drummer Tonny Nüsser (1923) cherishes the idea of forming a group to play contemporary jazz. In bassist Jochem de Molenaar's orchestra he finds some likeminded musicians: tenor saxophonist Dolf Petke, guitarist Frans van Lankeren (1924) and pianist Wim Jongbloed (1929-1982). With these three, plus his friend from the first Dutch Swing College, Henny Frohwein (1924), he forms the Atlantic Quintet. Nüsser comes up with the name since for him the Atlantic unity is more than simply a geographical term. Between June and December 1949 they complete an engagement at the Amsterdam jazzclub Sheherazade under Henny Frohwein's leadership, with a repertoire consisting of standards and evergreens. Dolf Petke does not completely meet the band's requirements, and is soon replaced by clarinetist and alto saxophonist Arie Verhoef (1924-2004). The band can also be heard at the Amsterdam Minerva Pavilion where DJ Pete Felleman organizes his Sunday afternoon swing and sweet shows.
Early 1950 they receive the lucrative offer to play for a few months at the Officers Post Hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the American occupation zone, starting in March. The band has to provide the officers with a few hours of swinging entertainment in the evening. Later in the year the quintet returns to the Netherlands, and plays at the Caveau Tzigane (Scheveningen), Hollywood (Amsterdam), the Van Schaick dancehall (Hilversum) and Tabaris (The Hague). A polished presentation is not unimportant for musicians seeking a professional career in music in those days. Hence the musicians look spick and span: fine light blue costumes and white shoes. Their popularity is growing fast, and is helped along by radio broadcasts for the AVRO broadcasting company and some records for the Decca label. Favorable reviews in the press give them the idea that they are heading in the right direction. According to Rhythme magazine there is a bright future in store for the band.
During these years the quintet builds a reputation for reliability with the American military. They manage to entertain their clientele with all sorts of music. The only thing that is missing is a girl singer. Guus van Manen (1927-2001), who has been replacing pianist Wim Jongbloed (who has to do his national service) since the end of 1950 offers the solution. His wife, singer Ria Joy (1924-2001), is the perfect woman to fill the spot. This doesn't last long, however. Since Van Manen's drinking habits don't go down well with the band, he is asked to leave the quintet half way through the year, and Ria Joy is soon to follow. The new pianist is Groningen born Roelof Stalknecht (1926-1995), a skillful, harmonically advanced musician. The quintet not only plays in Garmisch, but also in military clubs in Heidelberg and Wiesbaden. For the AFN they perform in short radio broadcasts, on average once a week. During the summer of 1951 they meet the American band leader Les Brown and vocalist Vic Damone, and the band backs the singer. Damone, who is doing his national service in Germany, praises the quintet. Tonny Nüsser is even invited to join him as his drummer back in the States, but for various reasons he refuses the offer. Just like Guus van Manen Roelof Stalknecht doesn't stay long.
1952 - 1954
Mid 1952 the internal cohesion in the band seems to be gone. Frans van Lankeren's brother Rob (1932-1971), replaces him. Nüsser considers this quite a gamble, since the pianist's technique is poor. The replacement does, however, work out fine after all. Rob van Lankeren turns out to be blessed with a great musicality, and moreover also plays the accordion and valve trombone. Curiously enough founder Tonny Nüsser himself quits in the course of the year 1952. He is dissatisfied with his opportunities for musical development. The officers' clubs force the quintet to play in a restrained, George Shearing-like style, and Nüsser has to play with brushes more than he would like to. George Martens (1934-1962) is a good replacement, who will keep the drumstool occupied until 1956. In absence of a regular singer the Atlantics use various freelancers like the English Doris Steele and the Swedish Mary Emfrids in the period between 1952 and late 1954.
1955 - 1960
In September 1954 the quintet can boast of a regular female singer again: Sanny Day (1922-2008). She transfers from the Millers because she, as she claims herself, has fallen in love with guitarist Frans van Lankeren. Sanny Day has the necessary stage flair and a natural, quasi-casual manner of singing. The commercial aspect seems to dominate increasingly in the officers' clubs. The absence of female dance partners forces the band to do floorshows. Acts with hats, moustaches and pistols, as well as acts in duo, trio and quartet formats are intended to keep the audience's interest going, according to critic Wouter van Gool in Rhythme magazine of June 1955. Frohwein puts it like this: 'People want to hear the latest top hits, and not the music we would prefer to play. If you want long term contracts here you have to be commercial.' This means that there is no room for jazz. Critic Harm Mobach has fond memories of a visit he and Skip Voogd paid the Atlantics in 1956. To them the music sounds freer and more inspired than the three minutes of the Decca records offer. In addition to their regular work the Atlantic Quintet can also be heard through the AFN networks: Neurenberg, Frankfurt, Kaiserslautern and Munich. In the late fifties there is no hotel club in Garmisch Partenkirchen where the Atlantics haven't played. They also manage to squeeze in performances in the Netherlands, however. In 1956 they can be seen in the AVRO television Weekend Show, and in 1957 they perform at the Rotterdam Flevo. Drummer George Martens quits in 1956; his place is taken by Piet Geurdes (1924). In 1958 bassist and leader Henny Frohwein also leaves, because he wants to raise his recently born child in the Netherlands. Rob van Lankeren now becomes the band's leader. Interim-bassist is The Hague born Richard Daniëls, until Jan Fens (1929-1979) comes in as his permanent replacement.
1961 - 1973
In September 1961 the quintet celebrates its12½ year anniversary at the Millers's regular residence, De Wieck, in Rotterdam. At this occasion Tonny Nüsser is celebrated as founder of the quintet. Hans Beths (1939) is the new drummer, since Geurdes has started working in his father in law's ice cream parlor in Bad Godesberg. According to Beths the Atlantics mainly play swinging jazz in the years that he is with the band, because that is what the Americans like to hear. In the early sixties tenorist Ruud Brink joins the group as a guest for a short stint. From the mid sixties the Atlantics find it increasingly difficult to please the younger audience with their music. Unlike in the officers' clubs of the fifties the crowd consists of ordinary young soldiers who don't care for jazz and swing, but ask for the music of the day, which is rock and soul. Around 1973 the musicians call it quits, although they play the occasional gig now and then. But Sanny Day and Frans van Lankeren don't rely on music to make a living. Having lived in the Bavarian ski resort for so long they have become qualified as ski instructors. They had to train in secret since entertainers were strictly banned from skiing because injuries might have put their evening performances at risk. Thus the once so famous Atlantic Quintet taste defeat in the clash between jazzy entertainment and the pop music of the sixties and seventies. But they certainly weren't the only ones.
Discography Atlantic Quintet
Henk Frowan's Atlantic Quintet - Small Combo Dance Date (1)
|Type and year||10", 1953|
|Label||Philips, B 10104 R|
Believe It Beloved
|Type and year||78 Toeren, 1949|
|Label||Decca, M 32749|
|Type and year||78 Toeren, 1949|
|Label||Decca, M 32751|
|B-side||How High The Moon|
|muzikant||Frans van Lankeren|
Sunday, Monday Or Always
|Type and year||78 Toeren, 1950|
|Label||Decca, M 33002|
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.
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