The Sugar Village Jazz Club, Meldert, Hoegaarden, Belgium outdid themselves in presenting another terrific jazz performance. Belgium's best kept secret, The Sugar Village Jazz Club has provided twelve years of some of the best known jazz artists for the Province Vlaams Brabant. Only three-to-four performances are held throughout the year; so jazz connoisseurs keep close watch for upcoming events as they are always outstanding. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and there isn't a bad seat in the house.
Outstanding past performances at Sugar Village have included, Scott Hamilton, John Pizzarelli, Toots Thielemans, Clark Terry, Sadi, Benny Bailey, Slide Hampton, Turk Mauro, Lew Tabackin and Diana Krall with Russel Malone and Christian McBride. The Beets Brothers electrifying performance was no exception.
Holland's Beets Brothers Quartet, including the Zapp String Quartet, brought down the house. The quartet included the three Beets Brothers, Alexander, tenor sax, Peter, piano and Marius, bass, with drummer, Joost Patocha. They had their own artistic sound and a strong swinging rhythmic pattern and complex harmonic style. Peter Beets was brilliant and the quartet's energy was explosive on stage. Combined with the dreamy Zapp String Quartet with Jasper le Clercq, violin, Willem van Baarsen, violin, Finn Möricke, viola and Emile Visser, cello, the inclusion of the string quartet made the evening enchanting.
The two-set performance included two outstanding compositions by Peter Beets, "Is It Wrong to Be Right," and "Blues for the Date." An especially moving arrangement of "Dear Old Stockholm" silenced all breathing and Charlie Parker's "Passport," John Lewis's "Django" and an especially swinging arrangement of Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" were sure-fire crowd-pleasers, but it was all good. The Zapp Quartet soloed a tearful "Polka Dots And Moonbeams," and the evening hailed three standing ovations and roof-raising kudos before the night ended. The Beets Brothers showed everyone what swing and bop is all about. It was high-energy sixties-style mainstream jazz with a soft splash of creamy strings in a sugar jazz club. What a sweet Dutch treat and wow, did they swing!
During intermission, bassist, Marius Beets, explained to me, "As brothers, each of us has a specific quality which tells the others what to do. Alexander is our business manager and Peter, well; he is just chaotic (laughs). I am thinking more about our program selections for recordings and performances. It works quite well." That must be the best brother-to-brother relationship ever, as seen by their interaction on stage. Perhaps it is because of their similar musical training growing up, but one can hardly think of a group more in tune with one another than these three brothers and their drummer.
Peter Beets started playing piano at age six and gave his first radio performance at age seventeen. He graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Hague, and took private lessons from Walter Norris at the Hoschschule der Kueste in Berlin and workshops from Barry Harris. In 1985, he appeared together with the famous pianist, Pim Jacobs, on television. In 1988, Peter won the most musically recognized Dutch contest, The Pall Mall Export Swing Award at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, receiving a generous cash prize along with the Princess Christina concours. This was a prestigious victory for Peter and the press gave him rave reviews. He also took third place at the international Martial Solal piano concours in Paris, where there were 65 contestants from all over the world competing against one another. In 1989, Peter won the "Edith Stein" concours in The Hague and as a result, was invited to make recordings at the BBC studios in London. This was the first of many invitations from countries all over Europe. Peter has fantastic timing on the piano and a phenomenal soft touch technique. His melancholic compositions are especially moving, but he can also thrill you with one of his quick-witted improvisational arrangements.
Marius Beets also started playing piano at age six and gravitated to the guitar in his teens. But, he found his love with the bass and bought his first double bass at the age of twenty. Although he was self-taught, he entered the same music conservatory as Peter, with one catch. His admittance was conditional in that he purchase a better bass instrument. While Marius is the rock-steady anchor for the trio, he is seen more and more in and out of Holland performing with the likes of Teddy Edwards, Houston Person, Pat Metheny and Jeff Hamilton. He plays live and in the studio and also composes and arranges. His bass line digs deep into your soul and keeps beating away with your heart. His compositions of "String Desire" and "School is Closed Now" will make you a believer that his talent reaches far beyond the norm.
Following in the same footsteps, Alexander Beets started playing piano at age six, but graduated to clarinet, then sax, taking private lessons for many years. Contrary to his brothers, he chose to get a management and organizational science degree. He said that was the last barrier that separated him from a career as a professional musician. He is much sought after as a guest soloist with other jazz bands and performed with the New Concert Big Band at North Sea '98 . . . all this while managing a successful music agency, Maxandter Music Productions and two record companies to boot. His sax playing is energizing and his interpretation of the ballad is captivating with a unique touch and tone as heard in his rendition of "My One and Only Love." Then again, he can wail your tail off like on the arrangement of Peter's "The What Happ-end".
The Beets Brothers are from Groenlo, a small town east of The Netherlands. Their music is sixties style jazz, but it is all fresh and new in appeal. They gave their first performance in 1983 and in 1985, they were discovered at the Doetinchem Jazz Festival. During the same year, they appeared on many radio and jazz television programs throughout Europe gaining more and more popularity. Their success continued, winning the "Rein Gieling Trophy" for the most original and promising jazz band. They also won awards at N.O.S. Jazz Festival and the Polaroid Jazz Festival in Enschede and began playing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague in 1990..
Concert performances have taken the Beets Brothers throughout Europe, America, China, Finland and Curacao. More recently, they have been invited to give a concert tour in South Africa. They just celebrated their 15-year jubilee by re-releasing the sixth pressing of their first album. They presently have five CDs to their credit, The Beets Brothers 1990, School is Closed Now 1993 (dedicated to Art Blakey), In the New World 1993, Brotherwise 1995 and First Date in 1997 recorded with Jeff Hamilton. There's not a bad one in the lot!
The Beets Brothers keep audiences looking for their next upcoming gigs. Their swing and mature hard bop perfomances have delighted the Dutch world since 1983 and their wide spread appeal has concerts selling out quickly. Take my word for it, this quartet's music is a must-have for any jazz lover's collection and they are one of my personal favorite European jazz groups.
While their CDs may be difficult to obtain outside Europe, Maxanter Music Productions may well be able to help you obtain copies of their superb collection of CDs. Visit their website at www.maxanter.nl (Opening in March '99) or try writing to Maxanter Muziek Producties, De Wingerd 17, 3823 CT Amersfoort, Holland. Try not to miss the opportunity of hearing them. You'll thank me for it.
Alexander Beets, "Maxanter Muziek Producties", 1999
Maxanter Muziek Producties, "A World Class Jazz-Act," 1998,
Marius Beets, "Sugar Village Jazz Concert," 1998
Maxanter Muziek Producties, "The Beets Brothers," 1990