19 februari 2009




Tony Bauwens, de ‘aristocraat van de piano’, in de jazzwereld bekend en geliefd als ‘Sir Anthony’ (en bij zijn Ronsese intimi als 'Gaston') is op 17 februari in het UZ Jette overleden aan een hartaanval in zijn 72ste levensjaar. Vriend en muziekpartner van Etienne Verschueren. Topper op Middelheim. Begeleider van Toots, Georgie Fame, Shirley Bassey... Hoe kunnen we hier beter afscheid nemen van deze Ronsese muziekgrootheid dan met de mooie hommage door het vakblad Jazz Belgium.

"Sir Anthony", the aristocrat of the piano, was born in Ronse on June 5 1936. By 1950he was already playing with local bands. After his discharge from the army, about 1958, he founded his own combo. On January 1st 1962 he starts his professional career, as a musician, in Brussels. In 1964 he joins the combo of singer DIDIAN, Latin music and jazz standards. The professional partnership, later on, blossomed into marriage.

The Bop Friends

1972, Tony replaces Bob PORTER within the trio of bass player Roger VAN HAVERBEKE, as well as in the SADI quartet, with which he recorded a LP.

1974 Tony is a big hit, as soloist, at the Middelheim Festival in Antwerp which is organized by the BRT radio. Following which he is hired to play with the BRT jazz orchestra, under the leadership of another native of Ronse, Etienne VERSCHUEREN.

With Etienne, on the alto sax, he forms the group the Bop Friends, a bebop quintet with Nicolas FISSETTE (tp), the late Freddy ROTTIER (drs) and Roger VANHAVERBEKE (bs).

Aside from the "Bop Friends" and the "Sadi Quartet", Tony accompanied a myriad of celebrities passing through Belgium and also abroad.
TOOTS, of course, during few years, Dexter GORDON, Frank ROSOLINO, Lockjaw DAVIS, Johnny GRIFFIN, Clark TERRY, Art FARMER, Jimmy RANEY, Slide HAMPTON, Georgie FAME, Pepper ADAMS, Tony COE, Peter KING and others... He also accompanied a number of singers like Greetje KAUFFELD, Rachel GOULD, Karin KROG, Catherina VALENTE and even... Shirley BASSEY, in 1975.

Tony Bauwens Sextet

That same year, he goes on a tour to Russia, 3 weeks, with the BRT jazz orchestra.

1982: Tony parts from VANHAVERBEKE and forms his "TONY BAUWENS SEXTET" with young talented musicians such as Bert JORIS, Marc GODFROID, Philip VENNEMAN, Marc VAN GARSSE and Tony GYSELINCK.

1983 : recording of LP "Ke Atas"(Jazz cats) with his sextet.

1984: with his sextet represents Belgium at the Cascais summer festival, in Portugal.

1987: The two BRT orchestras merge (jazz orchestra & big band) and what remains is a big band and a combo based upon the rhythm section of the jazz orchestra. Tony assumes the leadership of the combo and realizes many recordings with a large number of soloists and young Belgian talents.

1991: April 1st, the big band and combo are scrapped. As consequence, Sadi, persuaded by Tony, decides to reform a new quartet with Tony, with whom he played for a decade, Bart DE NOLF (bass) and Tony GYSELINCK (drs).Among their numerous appearances are the Brussels Jazz Rally, Düsseldorf Rally in 1992 and that of Seville in Spain.

1994, February, recording of a CD with the SADI Quartet. 1995 : reissue of the LP "Ke Atas" (1983) on CD (B Sharp), recording of a CD "Mister Blue-Etienne Verschueren", a CD with violin player Xavier CLAYES featuring old recordings of the BRT.

1996, August, recording of a CD with Belgian singer Peter HENS with Jean-Louis RASSINFOSSE (bs), Tony GYSELINCK (dr). Meanwhile, Tony continued playing with SADI, in trio and all sort of other bands and combinations.

Tony BAUWENS died on February 17, 2009, from a heart attack.