REYS Rita 1957

Jazz singer Rita Reys started her carrier more than 60 years ago. She played with great jazzartists like Art Blakey & The Jazzmessengers, Chico Hammilton, Jimmy Smith, Zoot Zims, Dizzy Gillespie, Burt Bacharach etc. In 1960 she became "Europe's first lady of jazz" at the jazzfestival of Juan Les Pins (France). Together with her husband Pim Jacobs she toured The Netherlands, and the rest of the world, making good music. She worked with small combo's as well as large orchestras. Reys has worked continuously into her 80s, sharing every stage of her life with her fans.
Rita Reys, born Maria Everdina Reys on December 21, 1924 in Rotterdam, Holland, has enjoyed an enduring musical career with popular and critical appeal, as well as a great commitment to the Great American Songbook.
Born into a musical family, Reys demonstrated talent at an early age. Her first professional musical experience was in 1942, when she performed with a singing group called The Hawaiian Minstrels. In 1943, she first met her future husband, jazz drummer Wessel Ilcken, who urged her to perform with his jazz group. Ilcken was then at the vanguard of Holland's new "Modern Jazz Scene," moving away from the past, more traditional styles of Swing Jazz and Dixieland, then popular in Holland.
With Ilcken, Reys’s singing career took off, and included a move to Stockholm, where she caught the attention of jazz fans and critics throughout Europe. Reys became Mrs. Wes Ilcken in 1945. By the early 1950s, the couple had begun recording together with other well-known European jazz musicians. Reys came to the attention of George Avakian, noted American jazz producer, who invited her and Ilcken to the United States, where they made their debut in 1956.
They performed with or appeared on the same bill as such jazz greats as Art Blakey, Oscar Pettiford, Count Basie, Stan Getz, Jimmy Smith, Oliver Nelson, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley and Horace Silver.
In the mid-1950s, they performed at the legendary Birdland Club in Manhattan. Avakian recorded them in America with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1955. These sides, together with others sides recorded with Ilcken's combo in Holland, comprised Reys’s first long-playing record, "The Cool Voice of Rita Reys".


THE COOL VOICE OF RITA REYS 1957
Original Columbia US Album

Original Phillips European Album

Reys gave birth to a daughter, Leila, and not long after was widowed when Ilcken died unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage. In 1958, she recorded again, this time with Swedish jazz pianist Bengt Hallberg. This collaboration resulted in the Philips LP "Two Jazzy People".
In order to support her daughter, Reys continued to perform throughout Europe, backed by the former pianist of Illcken's combo, Pim Jacobs. Reys married Jacobs in 1960, and they released an LP called "Marriage in Modern Jazz", which featured the distinctive style of Pim Jacobs’s Trio, modeled after the piano/guitar/bass sound of the early Nat "King" Cole Trio. Acclaim for this album led to Reys being dubbed "Europe's First Lady of Jazz" by fans and critics. This is a title that she has firmly held to this day.


Reys enjoyed long-term associations with two, major record labels – Philips (1955-1970) and CBS (throughout the 1970s). Since then, she has continued to record with both smaller and well-known European jazz labels. In her homeland, she has regularly appeared on television and radio, and opened a jazz club with Pim Jacobs in 1966 called the Go-Go Club. Located 15 miles outside of Amsterdam in the countryside resort town of Loosdrecht, she performed there herself, and presented many, world-class jazz musicians during the club's existence.
Reys has won countless European jazz polls and awards, including the prestigious Edison Award for Jazz Vocals. In 1991, she received the Bird Award for Lifetime Achievement at the annual Northsea Jazz Festival in Den Haag, to commemorate her invaluable contributions to Dutch jazz.


Except for a high profile engagement at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 1965, with the Jacobs trio and such legendary sidemen as Zoot Sims, Milt Hilton, and Clark Terry, most of Reys's live appearances have been within continental Europe. The New Orleans performance was recorded, but never released, by Philips Records. She has regularly played jazz clubs, concert halls and outdoor festivals.
While never compromising her talent to fit the musical fads of the day, Reys successfully tackled such diverse music as the bossa nova and the tunes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney – all in her own, jazz-influenced way. These recordings were critical and popular successes.


Her series of composer songbooks in the late 1960s and 1970s involved a long-term musical collaboration with the late Dutch arranger/conductor Rogier van Otterloo. These "romantic mood albums" combined the easy listening style then popular, with her own jazz touch, and paid tribute to such composers as George Gershwin, Michel Legrand, Burt Bacharach, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. In 1997, she recorded a similar sounding Henry Mancini Songbook, which found her still in excellent voice in her mid-70s.
Reys planned to retire from performing during a concert at the Northsea Jazz Festival in 1996, but days before Pim Jacobs died unexpectedly, and the concert was canceled. A year later, Reys returned from her bereavement in order to accept, for Jacobs, a posthumous Bird Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Northsea Jazz Festival. Her emotional acceptance speech was followed by a five-minute standing ovation.


Reys's retirement was short-lived, however, and she has since returned to performing selectively, under the direction of pianist-conductor-arranger Lex Jasper. In addition to the Mancini Songbook, her latest CD, "Once Upon a Summertime" –was released in 1999 on the Koch Jazz label, and includes performances from the 1980s and 1990s with the Dutch Metropole Jazz Orchestra.
Reys was long ago described by an unknown writer as "the hot, young canary who became the alto sax-voiced woman."

To be continued...

6 comments:

henryband said...

Daniel-

Could you make the "Cool Voice Of Rita Reyes" download available again? This lineup looks tantalizing! I have her Epic album pictured (Her Name Is Rita Reyes) and would like to hear more. Plus, having The Jazz Messengers as a backup group looks intriguing. Thanks!

Henryband

Jazz Miscellanous said...

HENRY, I JUST CHECKED. THE LINK IS OK. PUT SOME COINS IN THE SLOT AND TRY AGAIN!!! BEST. DANIEL

Luis said...

First time I heard Rita Reys was in a dutch compilation album.

Searching here and there I found a lot of albums of her. Great!

Thanks Daniel

henryband said...

Thanks Daniel, finally got it.I must have had computer gremilns. Looking forward to this one.

Luis Torres said...

Daniel, I have six albums by Rita Reys and according to my DB I had to more loose tracks, both in tapes that are no long playable: Desafinado and Let there be love. Are they from the same album? Which one?
Luís

Jazz Miscellanous said...

LUIS, FOR ME SHE RECORDED DESAFINADO ONLY ONCE ON "RELAX WITH RITA AND PIM" 1964. I FOUND NO TRACE OF "LET THERE...".I MAIL YOU THE COMPLETE DISCO. BEST. DANIEL