Jazz Music

Dark Eyes - Art Van Damme

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Art Van DammDespite liner notes that described this music as "background for badinage," these are excellent albums, if far more subdued that the bebop they shared the record bins with. Van Damme's introduction of the accordion as a featured jazz instrument was well-received critically, and in 1947, Downbeat magazine put his photo on the cover of one of their issues. He would go on to voted "Top Accordionist" in Downbeat's annual poll of jazz musicians for ten years in a row. Later, he was similarly recognized by Contemporary Keyboard magazine for five years in a row.

As time went on, Art Van Damme moved into more adventurous territory, closer to mainstream jazz. His later Columbia albums feature him at the lead of small, tight combos, and include a mix of standards and Van Damme's own slightly bebop-ish originals. "Accordion a la Mode" may be his best album, although "A Perfect Match," in which he pairs with the fine jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, is a favorite among fans of what's been called "light jazz."

Van Damme never had a problem finding a gig, and performed at clubs and hotels throughout Europe and the U.S. Over the course of over fifty years of performing, he traveled to Europe nearly 40 times and played everywhere from the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, to the Blue Note in New York, to Disney World in Florida. He also appeared on numerous television shows, from "The Tonight Show" to "The Dinah Shore Show." In the early 1950s, his quintet also recorded over 130 15-minute segments for NBC Radio. He claims that his performing kept him so busy he never needed to practice, and says that he probably played his accordion at home less than six hours total in all that time.

After leaving N.B.C. in 1960, opened music studio and store in suburban Chicago. Quintet also made guest appearances on a few of the following shows: Today Show, Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas Show, (Mike incidentally worked with the quintet for five years at N.B.C. in Chicago). Lawrence Welk Show and many local shows. Night Club work since 1960 has been such as: Desert Inn in Las Vegas, Sahara Tahoe in Lake Tahoe, Boneventure Hotel in Montreal, Bayshore In in the Vancouver, BC, Lenny’s on the Turnpike in Boston, Theatrical Restaurant in Cleveland, Disneyworld in Florida and various jazz clubs in U.S. plus annual appearances in Europe.

Moved to Northridge, California in 1968. Married and have three children. Wife’s name, Dorothy. All children married and have six grand-children. Hobby is sports of all kinds, spends most free time playing golf.

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