Art Van Damme, a legendary jazz musician has given the Accordion a whole new unique sound that is internationally recognized. He has combined the Accordion with Guitar and Vibes, and a rhythm section of Bass and Drums, thus creating a unique sound, and with the harmonic melodies and jazz rhythms they produce, truly separated them from any other musical group.
In 1944, Art made his first recording on the Music Craft label. He joined the NBC staff in Chicago in 1945, and spent 15 years doing Radio and TV Shows. Art with his Quintet worked with many top entertainers such as Dave Garraway, Hugh Downs, Ranson Sherman, Howard Miller, Bob and Kay, and Dennis James. The Quintet did a number of spots for top singers and instrumentalist, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Buddy De Franco, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Art has recorded 42 Albums plus a number of Singles on 45 RPM and 78-RPM recorders. His recordings were on various labels such as Capital, Columbia, and MPS of West Germany. Some of the top artists that recorded with Art were Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, Joe Stafford, Francis Bergman, the Dinning Sisters, and Harry James. In an effort to create a new sound for the Accordion, Art recorded several Albums were he combined the Accordion with Strings, Brass, Flutes, and with the vocal group, Singers Unlimited.
Art has made 37 trips to Europe and Australia, were he did live concerts, and appeared as a guest performer on Radio, TV. He has also appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carlson, the Mike Douglas Show, the Lawrence Welk Show, and the Dinah Shore Show. His nightclub work included the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, Sahara in LakeTahoe, Beneventure Hotel in Montreal, Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver, Harrah’s in Reno, and Disney World in Florida.
Besides having the group in the top ten instrumental categories for many years in Billboard, Metroname, and Playboy Magazine Polls, Art Van Damme was voted Top Jazz Accordionist in Downbeat Magazine’s Polls for ten consecutive years. He was also voted Top Accordionist in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine from 1976 to 1980. The five-year dominance of C.K. Polls has put Art in the " Gallery of Greats". Plus, the Quintet made more transcriptions than any other small group, including 139 individual quarter-hour shows for RCA Thesaurus and also many commercial spots.
Art Van Damme is undoubtedly one of the finest virtuosos of the instrument. He is to the Accordion what Benny Goodman is to the Clarinet. His precise control of the bellows that has allowed him to accent every note on the instrument along with his stunning technique he extracts, gives him such a unique sound that it is hard to believe your hearing an Accordion. He has done more in helping to recognize the Accordion as a jazz instrument than any other performer. Many of us truly believe, he is the World Greatest Jazz Accordionist.
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THE ART VAN DAMME STORY with Quintet on DVD
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