music: Blue Note years
Recollections, on Blue Note years

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(In the post-war years in Denmark, dance music and jazz music continued to be performed at either strictly commercial restaurants and/or nightclubs on the one hand, or at concert halls or school dances on the other hand.

Having experienced jazz clubs in London and Paris that were forging a new style that was in between those two approaches, T.U. and friends decided to try to introduce a new kind of jazz club in Denmark, where it was possible to pay an entrance fee and not be obliged to pay for anything more (food or drink) but could still dance. Povl Eriksen was director of the board, which also included Kurt Nielsen, Arnvid Meyer, Knud Thorning Hansen and T.U.

This club, called Blue Note, first opened its doors in October of 1952. It rented the second-floor party room above a Copenhagen restaurant called the Grand Cafe, at the corner of Kongensnytorv and Lille Kongensgade. It quickly expanded to fill more space and occupy more evenings there.
After some years, the club moved to the street Krystalgade, and a few years later to a shared space on Store Regnegade, a place that would become Jazzhus Montmartre.)

"... This idea of having a strictly jazz club that was open to this new approach and at the same time this old kind of music, also and furthermore meant that people who had already heard our band at school dances and concerts could now come to the corner of Kongensnytorv and Lille Kongensgade, where we rented the second-floor party room of a ground-floor restaurant called the Grand Cafe, every Wednesday at 8 o'clock. Right from the start there were so many people using the dance floor that sometimes the whole floor was swaying, and there was some concern whether the old floor would hold up if everybody danced in the rhythm.

With the lines down the street and around the corner, and people sometimes not being able to get in, particularly those who came from far away and arrived late, expecting to get in, quickly we could see that maybe it should be expanded, so that before long we also had Saturdays going upstairs, and once a month we played downstairs as well (the restaurant ending dinner service early so that could happen). And we had other bands coming to substitute for us on Saturdays if we were playing out in the provinces. At the same time, many people that had heard the band in the provinces, when they came to Copenhagen, they came to our club. So pretty quickly it was time for another expansion.

Since we were friends with all the musicians more oriented towards newer styles of music, musicians inspired by Lenny Tristano and Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker, then they would come and play downstairs. So soon on Saturdays we played upstairs, and the modern guys – like Jørgen Ryg, Max Brüel, Jørgen Lausen, Erik Moseholm – playing downstairs. We could have up to 500 people in the whole place, and often there would be a line around the corner onto the walking street to get in.

Sometimes on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, or after scheduled performances by other musicians elsewhere in town, visiting musicians would come and play with the Blue Note Band, including many members of Count Basie's band, for instance Frank Foster, Joe Newman, Frank Wess; Lionel Hampton's band with a young Clifford Brown and Quincy Jones; Stan Kenton's band with Lee Konitz. Also, when some of the older blues musicians were around, and sometimes they stayed for quite a while, we played with them, accompanied them, such as Champion Jack Dupree.

That went on for some years. Then again some people came forward and offered them a restaurant that was ending its dinner service, in Krystalgade. Arnvid Meyer and his wife Karen, who had been keeping track of the books, teamed up with us, and we made it a club so that during the day people could come in and talk, drink coffee, listen to recorded music, read newspapaers and books – we had a library of books. Then at 8 o'clock, at first on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we played recorded music, and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we had live music.

After a couple more years, the club then moved to Store Regnegade, to a place called Montmartre, which at first was better known by taxi drivers as Pisserenden ("The Piss Gutter"), because they were used to stopping there and relieve themselves – that kind thing earned respect, and less respect in a neighborhood. The Blue Note Band played every Wednesday there, and other clubs and bands rented the same space other nights. This place became Jazzhus Montmartre, under the direction of Herluf Kamp-Larsen, which became known around the jazz world, with Oscar Pettiford, Brew Moore, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Drew, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler all playing there over extended periods."

– T.U., Jan. 14, 2005

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