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Martijn's musical influences

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Martijn in 1978

Studying


 



Musical influences

The wonderful thing about boogie woogie, is the freedom to color your solos. In my solos, I put many of the musical influences I have experienced over the years.

 


* My first musical influences (approx. 1989) were the original recordings of the American boogie woogie pioneers Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis. Particularly the swinging and powerful solos of Ammons impressed me enormously. Some years later, I became aware that his work contains as much creativity and subtlety as it contains power and melody.

For me, Albert Ammons is still the greatest boogie woogie player of all times. I consider his own composition Boogie Woogie Stomp as an absolute masterpiece.

 


Albert Ammons


* I discovered more and more piano players who played during the early days of boogie. I collected recordings of Clarence ‘Pinetop' Smith, Jimmy Yancey, Cripple Clarence Lofton, Cow Cow Davenport, Big Maceo Merriweather, Montana Taylor and less known pianists some of whom recorded only one or two songs. Their compositions are very unique. Just listen to the wonderful train boogie ‘Number 29' by Wesley Wallace, or the funny ‘Head Rag Hop' of Romeo Nelson. These give you a good impression about how much diversity the boogie had during those beginning days of this musical style.

A large and very colorful source and inspiration for new songs. For example, Number 29 has been an inspiration for me to compose the title song of my album 'Trainride'. 

 


Jimmy Yancey


* In the early 90's, I heard recordings of the American pianist Little Willie Littlefield, who lives in Holland and is the composer of ‘Kansas City'. I had the pleasure and privilege to visit many of his concerts. His astonishing forceful left hand rhythms are truly amazing. His very enthusiastic performance on stage and good time boogie style were a big inspiration over and over again. It gave me the drive to go on with my practicing and studying. His concerts I will never forget.

In the year 2000, Willie stopped performing after a well deserved career of many succesful international tours and recording sessions.

I was very pleased that, despite his "retirement", he played exclusively during my International Boogie Woogie Festival Holland in April 2004 and May 2005. These festivals are available on DVD.

In 2005, Willie announced his international comeback as a solo performer, and a new package show Little Willie Littlefield & the Martijn Schok Band. A show with Boogie Woogie, Blues, Rhythm 'n Blues and Jazz.

It is a great honour for me to have been on stage together with this legend, to whom I listened so many times in my beginning years as a piano student.

 


Little Willie Littlefield


* My meeting in Cincinnati in 2002 with the American (at the time eighty-two years old) boogie and blues pianist Big Joe Duskin impressed me enormously. For me, it was like listening to the real low down blues singing for the first time live. What a voice…!

The sound and spirit of his blues shouting style  immediately remembered me of the early recordings of Big Joe Turner and pianist Pete Johnson. It was great to play Roll ‘Em Pete while Duskin was singing this song in style of the old days... I am happy that performance was recorded on a live CD.

From Big Joe I learnt that pure blues piano never should lose its fundamental nature. It was a great experience, this meeting with the roots of the blues.

 

Martijn en Big Joe Duskin (Cincinnati, 2002)


* In the summer of 2002 I was on stage in the USA with fifteen -mostly American- boogie woogie and blues pianists. Many of them I only knew from old albums, which I played over and over again when I was exploring the style in my early years. What a thrill to meet them in person. For example Mark Braun, who I knew from his Dutch Oldie Blues LP ‘Detroit Special'. Or the powerful playing of Bob Seeley and the wonderful Charlie Booty.

Great to be right in the middle of the American boogie woogie community of boogie players, to play duets with them and to see their enthusiasm about how a European player of -at that time- twenty-eight interprets ‘their' American boogie style. Very inspiring and all wonderful people.

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l-r: Bob Seeley, Big Joe Duskin, Martijn Schok
(during festival afterparty Cincinnati 2002)


* 2003, I head the pleasure to meet Jay McShann, before his concert at the North Sea Jazz Festival. In 1999 I saw McShann perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans (also Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Dr. John).

Thanks to Raymond "Guitar Ray" Neijenhuis who played in McShann's accompanying band at the North Sea Jazz Festival, I was able to talk with McShann. It was a wonderful time. It made McShann feel good that young people still play boogie woogie and piano blues, and keeping it alive. At that time, McShann was 87 years.

His performance was impressive. Swinging, soulful, with humor and a tremendous musical feeling. You could see the joy and happiness on his smiling face. I am very impressed by his repertoire, McShann is showing that boogie woogie, blues and jazz can be in fact one and the same style.

Jay McShann passed away in 2006, he was 90 years old.
 



Press quotes

"Seen live, Martijn Schok and his trio impress both audiences who remain sitting amazed at the authentic style of their playing and those in the mood to hit the dance floor, to be treated to an irresistible helping of swing"
Gelders Dagblad

"One of the best home-grown North Sea acts"
Gelders Dagblad

"His approach has no trouble living up to the expectations of the genre and lacks nothing in tightness"
Jazz Nu

"Every time the Martijn Schok Boogie Woogie Trio takes to the stage it's party time. Boogie-woogie pioneers such as Meade 'Lux' Lewis and Albert Ammons would be amazed and overjoyed to see their tradition being kept alive with such respect all the way across the Atlantic"
North Sea Jazz Festival Organization

"They seem like a well-oiled machine, drawing on a vast amount of experience to ingeniously breathe new life into old themes and classic riffs with spot-on timing"
Back To The Roots Blues Magazine

"The intriguing thing about Martijn Schok is the way he reconstructs genuine boogie using the great old-timers as inspiration. He has obviously done his homework and applies what he has found in recordings of Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons to his own work with remarkable feeling. He isn't afraid of the most complex bass patterns, which he manages to weave in with absolute naturalness and vitality"
Hifi Video Test

"We have discovered that 'respectable' black tie music can actually have a heart, and, at the same time, have once more been shown that young people, too, are capable of demonstrating that heart"
Lick Blues Magazine

"(...) Young Martijn Schok is a real discovery. With the guts of an old hand, he turned the set after the break into a true experience. A blues from Schok's own pen, one of the few slow numbers in the programme, turned out to be an accomplished composition, in which, with faultless syncopation in the top line and a powerful left hand, Martijn proved himself a match for the old masters Dekker and Van Der Gaag. Schok can also swing a la Ramsey Lewis (...)".
From a review of the Grand Piano Boogie Train (premiere in Hardenberg, Holland, 22 February 2001), Zwolse Courant, 24 February 2001

"(...) Martijn Schok and his backing duo actually play two musical styles simultaneously. The basis is boogie woogie, the left hand striking the blues chords and the right hand dancing an improvisation. The hammering boogie woogie style sometimes bumps up the tempo considerably, but this poses no problem for the trio. And that's putting it mildly. They can lay back a pause just as easily, building the suspense of the Martijn Schok Trio experience until the music suddenly becomes jazzy. With inventive passages full of improvisation, Schok is proving to be a top pianist. The only real successor to the famous Dutch honky-tonkers Rob Hoeke and Jaap Dekker. Music at a high level of proficiency (...)". 
De Gelderlander, 1 September 2001

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Links

International Boogie Woogie Festival Holland - Boogie Woogie Festival with top pianists from around the world

Eddie Futselaar - Pianos and Grand Pianos

Rinus Groeneveld - Tenor Saxophonist

Maarten Kruijswijk - Drummer

Authentic Blues Piano - Jean Paul Sabathé


Martijn in 1978

Four years.




Martijn, 4 years


Studying.

Nine years.



Martijn, 9 years