TEDDY EDWARDS IN THE NETHERLANDS
Teddy Edwards was an American saxophonist, composer, arranger, lyricist, husband, father, grandfather, teacher and friend to many all over the world. He was born in Mississippi with aspirations to go to New York but ended up in Los Angeles during the heydays of Central Avenue. For a while, his "home away from home" was in The Netherlands, where he was well-loved and where he spent quite some time with the Huijts family and the Dumas family in Enschede in the '80s and '90s. Teddy even wrote a poem dedicated to the people of The Netherlands. (See under poems.)
Teddy Edwards, Peter Huijts, Greetje Huijts and "the twins."
circa 1981 - Photo by Dagblad Tubantia
Peter Huijts opened a jazz café named “De Tor,” worked with and agency, and later became road manager for Chet Baker. Peter and his wife, Greetje, had four children, one son and three daughters. During the ‘80s, they opened their house in Eibergen for jazz musicians that were passing through Holland, Germany and Belgium. (For a complete bio on Peter Huijts, scroll down to the Volkskrant article "open house in Eibergen.")
JAZZ PROMOTER PETER HUIJTS & DE TOR
Collage of still frames of video filmed by Kirsten Reynen © Kirsten Reynen
For over 35 years, Peter Huijts was jazz programmer at De Tor. Huijts produced records, organized jazz festivals and was road manager for American jazz musicians on tour throughout Europe and Japan such as Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Shaw, Teddy Edwards, Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton and Tony Williams.
Peter Huijts was a very modest person, he didn’t not like to tout his own horn. The same holds true for his wife, Greetje, the glue of the Huijts family. She held it all together, her family, plus hosting all these jazz musicians coming in and out of Eibergen throughout the years. “They were all very well behaved,” she said recently in a local interview.
TEDDY EDWARDS &THE DUAL CITY BIG BAND Enschede, de tor 1995
Meet some other members of the Huijts family. Teddy Edwards rehearsing with the Dual City Big Band in De Tor, Enschede, circa 1995. The sample song, one of Teddy's own compositions, The Cellar Dwellar.
OPEN HOUSE IN EIBERGEN
from Open Huis in Eibergen by Peter Brusse, which appeared in the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant, on June 18, 2005.
Greetje and Peter Huijts
De Tor 2003
"When Chet Baker fell
out of a window in 1988, Peter had to identify
Peter Huijts was, together with his wife Greetje, the driving force behind the success of Jazzpodium de Tor in Enschede, The Netherlands. Peter was born in Rotterdam. His father, Mr. J. Huijts was editor in chief of the NRC newspaper; and also active in the Rotterdam arts center named Lantaren/Venster. He traveled to Paris, France, where he visited the big ateliers of Ossip Zadkine and Naum Gabo. Peter also put his creative talents at work and collaborated with Woody van Amen on a large mosaic made of broken tiles that were originally created by Louis van Roode for an insurance company.
Peter discovered jazz music during the ‘50s, while he was still in high school. His father said it excited him. Together with the owner of the local record store where he frequently dwelled, Peter ended up on stage with award-winning artist Pia Beck and offered her a bouquet of flowers. The pictures appeared in the newspapers the following day. He worked as a waiter at the Expo in Brussels, Belgium, and as a steward with the Holland America Line ending up in New York where he visited all the jazz clubs. Once he met Greetje, he decided to get a “real” job as an electrical engineer.
He landed a job with a safety technology company, which relocated its headquarters to the Eastern part of The Netherlands. Peter and Greetje Huijts moved to this remote part of the country bordering the German border, where they discovered the club, De Tor (The Roach). Peter quickly started to organize concerts. He met jazz promoter Wim Wigt, who got him a gig.
Peter’s first big gig, in 1982, was a three-month bus tour throughout Europe with Machito and his Cuban salsa band. Sometimes he didn’t know where they were going to play that night! Peter could tell you endless stories about stars who lost their plane tickets, who suddenly didn’t want to leave their hotel room, or who jumped out of a driving taxi. He could instantly tell if there were frictions in the band by the way they played. Dizzy Gillespie said after each tour: “I played well. Where’s my gift?” He would expect a new watch or a camera and wouldn’t perform until the present was opened and approved.
For trumpeter, Chet Baker, his problem child, he would go out in the middle of the night to look for oil for his mouthpiece. Chet had accidently rubbed denture adhesive on his mouthpiece and couldn’t play. When Chet Baker fell out of a window in 1988, Peter had to identify his body. In his eyes, Chet was not a junkie, but a simple farm boy who couldn’t handle life. Peter was devastated for months after that.
Peter refused to write his stories. And when the gigs were over, whether in Europe, America or Japan, he was happy to go home. He was crazy about his family, and preferred listening to a vinyl with a scratch on it than a perfect CD. He was active in his local community and enjoyed the outdoors: once he did a 50-mile megahike, but only once and that was plenty. On holidays he looked for deserted camp grounds and if his children, three daughters and a son, knew how to use the primus stove well, they’d receive the primus stove certificate. He hated caravans until the day he found an old timer, fixed it, provided it with solar panels and a simple sound system.
Peter Huijts passed away on June 3rd, 2005, at the age of 68 in an unfortunate accident.
(Translated and loosely adapted with pemission from Dutch to American English by Kirsten Reynen)
One month before Teddy and I visited Enshede, Peter received a check in the amount of 1000 Guilders from renowned Dutch novelist and sculptor, Jan Wolkers.
Although he lived on the Frisian island of Texel, Wolkers was a big jazz fan and a regular visitor at De Tor.
He told Peter once he liked the music and the gig but he thought it was a pity, that such a well-known artist such as Mischa Mengelberg had to play on such a shabby piano.
Peter told him that next year, when the De Tor would celebrate its 25th year of existence, he would start raising money for a wing. Jan Wolkers told him he was willing to donate one thousand guilders toward the wing fund and that Peter could come and pick up his checks the next day. He also told Peter that he really wanted to be there when the wing finally would get inaugurated.