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DICK WILLEBRANDTS

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Promotiefoto Dick Willebrandts

Period

29-07-1911 - 29-12-1970

Genre

jazz, swing

Dick Willebrandts

During WW II pianist Dick Abraham Willebrandts (Rotterdam, 29 July 1911 – 29 December 1970) leads an orchestra which is by many considered to be the best Dutch swing big band in history. The German occupier uses radio recordings by the band for propaganda purposes. Broadcasts by Calais II (= ...
Full biography

Mentioned in the biography of

1936   Boy Edgar
1940   Klaas van Beeck

Biography Dick Willebrandts

During WW II pianist Dick Abraham Willebrandts (Rotterdam, 29 July 1911 – 29 December 1970) leads an orchestra which is by many considered to be the best Dutch swing big band in history. The German occupier uses radio recordings by the band for propaganda purposes. Broadcasts by Calais II (= Hamburg), a branch of the Deutsche Europasender aimed at Britain, make use of recordings that are to sound as 'American' as possible. Hence the Dick Willebrandts Orchestra is able to play high level, undiluted swing music even in the years 1943-'44. After his debut at the age of thirteen in the combo of his drummer brother Philip, Dick Willebrandts joins bassist Jack de Vries's Internationals in 1935. Two years later he is the new pianist for the A.V.R.O. (broadcasting company) Dansorkest (Dance band). After the war he works as a bar pianist, and with the O.K. Wobblers, a trad jazz band led by trombonist-arranger Pi Scheffer.

1925 - 1935

He makes his debut in his brother Philip Willebrandts's sextet, for which he also makes the arrangements. He studies at the Rotterdam conservatory, with Max Velt and Gerard Hengeveld. Around 1928 Willebrandts becomes a member for a short while of several German and Danish dance bands performing in the Netherlands.

1935 - 1937

Willebrandts is the pianist of Jack de Vries's Internationals, one of the top-ranking orchestras in the Netherlands.

1937 - 1940

He can be heard on the radio frequently, as pianist and incidentally as arranger for the A.V.R.O. Dansorkest (Dance band), led successively by Hans Mossel and Klaas van Beeck. As an arranger he seems to be influenced by Fletcher Henderson, and Bob Haggart of the Bob Crosby band. Recordings from this period can be found on the CDs Het A.V.R.O. Dansorkest o.l.v. Hans Mossel and Het A.V.R.O. Dansorkest o.l.v. Klaas van Beeck.

1940 - 1942

The A.V.R.O. Dansorkest is disbanded, but Willebrandts continues to work for the radio. He leads his own Jonge Acht (Young Eight) and mainly accompanies entertainers.

1942 - 1944

With the help of a sponsor he is able to start his own big band, using the best (ex-) members of pianist Ernst van 't Hoff's orchestra, and of the A.V.R.O. Dansorkest. Decca makes recordings of the band, and sponsors tours. Kees Bruijn, Boy Edgar and others provide progressive arrangements; but it is arranger Pi Scheffer who is most vital to the orchestra's image. The band frequently plays for the nazified Nederlandsche Omroep (Dutch Broadcasting Company), and between August 1943 and September 1944 hundreds of propaganda recordings are broadcast by Calais II. Performances in all parts of the country sometimes lead to hysterical scenes, evoking anti-German sentiments.

1944 - 1959

Having worked for the Germans Dick Willebrandts is banned for six months from leading orchestras after the liberation. He works as a bar pianist in his hometown Rotterdam.

1960 - 1961

His former trombonist and arranger Pi Scheffer asks him to join the O.K. Wobblers, a trad jazz band.

1963

A stroke ends Dick Willebrandts's career. But his role in jazz has by then been over for nearly twenty years. In December 1970 he dies.

1989

Recordings by the orchestra are reissued on LP in 1984 ('t Komt Wel Weer In Orde) and on CD in 1989 (Dick Willebrandts En Zijn Orkest). The latter album receives an Edison (Dutch Grammy).

Discography Dick Willebrandts

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.

Photos Dick Willebrandts

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