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Ferdinand Povel


13-02-1947 - current


altsaxofoon, bebop, fluit, hard bop, jazz, klarinet, tenorsaxofoon


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Ferdinand Povel

Ferdinand Povel is one of the best Dutch jazz saxophonists. He is considered to be a sophisticated soloist, combining an appealing, broad sound with a flowing, melodious soloing manner. During his long career Povel is an in demand instrumentalist (on both tenor and alto sax) in orchestras and small ...
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altsaxofoon, fluit, klarinet, tenorsaxofoon

Mentioned in the biography of

1957   Ellen Helmus
1960   Rolf Delfos
1970   Max Teawhistle
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Biography Ferdinand Povel

Ferdinand Povel is one of the best Dutch jazz saxophonists. He is considered to be a sophisticated soloist, combining an appealing, broad sound with a flowing, melodious soloing manner. During his long career Povel is an in demand instrumentalist (on both tenor and alto sax) in orchestras and small bands. He performs with international and Dutch stars like Dexter Gordon, Sarah Vaughan, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, Boy Edgar, John Engels, Cees Slinger and Piet Noordijk. Since 1978 he has been teaching at various conservatories, and since 1990 as principal teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Many of his students have carved out a successful career in music of their own. Povel can be heard on over a hundred LPs and CDs, but is underrecorded as a leader.

Played in

Netherlands Concert Jazz Band  
Skymasters   saxofoon

1947 - 1963

Ferdinand Povel is born on 13 February 1947 in a creative family in Haarlem. His father is a filmmaker, his mother a pianist. The musically gifted Ferdinand soon develops an interest in jazz. For his twelfth birthday he is given a ticket for a night concert by the Duke Ellington Orchestra at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Povel starts out playing the clarinet, and is taught privately at first, and later at the conservatory, where Theo Loevendie is one of his teachers. In addition he also picks up the saxophone. He develops his playing over the years by teaching himself how to play the instrument, since there is no course in saxophone at the time, let alone a course in jazz.


Ferdinand Povel first emerges when he manages to win the Loosdrecht Jazz Competition as a member of the Martin Haak Quartet on 11 August 1964. Critics call the then 17 year-old Povel the revelation of the competition. He has been playing the saxophone for only a year and a half then. He will later say that, in his mind, the award came too early: he still needed to learn a great deal, and the climate for jazz was far from favorable at the time: 'Unfortunately jazz had reached a low. The Beatles were popular. All of my friends wanted to play pop music. Or free jazz, and that wasn't my thing at all. Jazz musicians were half a generation or a whole generation older, they had all played in nightclubs and had travelled around. But the nightclubs were no longer in business. So I learned the trade in radio studios.' (interview in the Gooi- & Eemlander newspaper, 2004). After the Loosdrecht competition he receives all kinds of job offers and decides to become a professional musician. He listens to the great Americans, takes part in sessions at the Amsterdam Sheherazade jazzclub and gradually manages to penetrate into Dutch radio and television orchestras.

Theo Loevendie


Povel becomes a member of The New Sound Incorporated, a septet started by trombonist Bertil Peereboom Voller and pianist Henk Elkerbout. They give educational concerts and perform for radio and television, for the TROS and AVRO broadcasting companies. Povel takes part in the International Competition for Modern Jazz in Vienna. The jury – featuring Cannonball Adderley and Mel Lewis – grants him a place in the final. In 1966 trumpeter Cees Smal, reedist Herman Schoonderwalt and pianist Frans Elsen found the Hobby Orkest (later called the Nederlands Jazz Orkest). Povel is invited to join on saxophone and flute. The orchestra mainly performs late at night and plays original compositions and arrangements exclusively.


Povel and pianist Rob Franken move to Munich, where the saxophonist meets trumpeter Dusko Goykovich, who invites him to join his Summit Quintet, featuring drummer Philly Joe Jones. The quintet tours all over Europe.

Rob Franken


In 1971 Povel subs for the American saxophonist Johnny Griffin in the legendary Kenny Clarke / Francy Boland Big Band. In the same year he is engaged by the German band leader Peter Herbolzheimer for his Peter Herbolzheimer's Rhythm Combination and Brass. He will stay on in this band for fifteen years, partaking in many tours, radio and television appearances and recording sessions.

1972 - 1977

In 1972 Povel plays in Kurt Edelhagen's famous orchestra for a year. The Amsterdam Bohemia Jazzclub organizes the Muzikantenprijs (Musicians' award). Ferdinand is the runner-up, a year later he is the winner. In 1973 he tours the States with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's famous big band, and he also records with this outfit. The city of The Hague awards the first Haagse Jazzprijs (The Hague Jazz Award) in 1974 to Ferdinand Povel.


From 1978, until the orchestra disbands in 1993, Povel is a member of the Skymasters. This AVRO radio orchestra accompanies many great international soloists, but Povel himself is often featured as a soloist as well. In the same year he is appointed as a teacher of saxophone at the Rotterdam Conservatory, and later also in Zwolle, The Hague and Hilversum.



Povel is appointed as principal teacher at the Hilversum Conservatory, which merges with the Sweelinck Conservatory, becoming the Amsterdam Conservatory in 1998. Talented students from the Netherlands and abroad come to Amsterdam to be taught by him. So many of his students have made a name for themselves that Povel is considered to be 'one of the roots of the two youngest generations of excellent jazz musicians'. Povel regularly gives workshops and masterclasses abroad.


At the Nordring Festival, organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Ferdinand Povel is awarded the prize for best soloist.


In the summer he cuts his left hand on a shard of glass, leaving him handicapped for six months.

1990 - 2003

Besides his teaching activities he remains active as a musician, guesting with the Metropole Orchestra, the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, the Dutch Jazz Orchestra and various orchestras abroad, like the BBC Big Band, the Helsinki UMO Orchestra and the Belgian BRT Orchestra. Since 2000 Povel is also a member of the American trumpeter John Marshall's quintet, which performs with various rhythm sections in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. This period also sees the start of a quintet featuring bassist Ruud Jacobs, pianist Peter Beets, guitarist Martijn van Iterson and drummer Joost Patocka, which performs regularly and also becomes singer Rita Reys's regular backing band.

Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw Metropole Orkest Peter Beets Rita Reys

2004 - 2010

In the summer of 2004 Ferdinand Povel celebrates his 40th anniversary as a jazz musician. He is knighted, receiving a membership of the Orde van Oranje-Nassau. To celebrate this joyful occasion a special concert is organized at the North Sea Jazz Festival, featuring the American tenorist Pete Christlieb. In 2005 Ferdinand Povel is awarded the Meer Jazz Prijs (Meer Jazz Award) by the Haarlemmermeer municipality, for his great contributions to Dutch jazz. On 21 December 2009 Povel is one of the musicians celebrating Rita Reys's 85th birthday at the Pim Jacobs Theater in the town of Maarssen.

Rein de Graaff Rita Reys


Ferdinand Povel is awarded the 2011 VPRO/Boy Edgar Prijs. This major Dutch jazz and improvised music award consists of a sculpture by Jan Wolkers and € 12,500. The award ceremony, including a special concert, will take place on 16 May 2011 at the Amsterdam Bimhuis. A month later the CD Good Bait is released, recorded in the Bimhuis as well, but during a gig in November 2008 featuring Pete Christlieb and the Rein de Graaff trio.

Discography Ferdinand Povel

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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