Art Van Damme

Genres: Jazz
Decades Active: 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Biography

9 April 1920, Norway, Michigan, USA. Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Van Damme heard accordion played on records when he was aged nine, liked the sound and asked for one. Within a year he was playing in public. Although he enjoyed the sounds of swing era music that became popular during his teenage years, he stayed with the accordion, which was a long way from being an instrument associated with the form, and played in a trio in local clubs before being hired by Ben Bernie in 1941. After touring with Bernie, he returned to Chicago where he played clubs until joining NBC radio in 1944/5.

For the next 15 years Van Damme was a studio musician but meanwhile began a hugely successful recording career following his first date for the Music Craft label. He had been leading a trio of accordion, guitar and bass, then tried a quartet by adding a second accordion. He then tried the combination of accordion, vibraphone, bass and guitar, which he liked,...

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