John Engels Biography
 
Without any doubt John Engels, born in Groningen, The Netherlands, on May 13, 1935, has now reached the prime of his career and matured into one of the world's leading and most widely demanded jazz drummers of today.

His first work of importance was with pianist Mary Lou Williams in 1953. After that he joined the "Diamond Five", led by Dutch pianist Cees Slinger, a legendary jazz group in Holland. He was a member of this quintet for more than ten years, accompanying such great artists as Stan Getz, Clifford Jordan, Phil Woods, Charlie Rouse, Nat Adderley and many others.

It is virtually impossible to name all the outstanding musicians John Engels worked with in the years since he began his career, the following names are a random selection: on saxophone: Ben Webster (with whom John recorded three albums), Zoot Sims, Bud Shan, Jimmy Heath, Bob Cooper, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, Flip Phillips and Warne Marsh. On trumpet: Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Thad Jones, Woody Shaw, Tom Harrell and Wynton Marsalis. On trombone: Jimmy Knepper, Slide Hampton and Jiggs Whigham. On piano: Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan and Monty Alexander. Singers he performed with are, among others: Betty Carter, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Dakota Staton, Helen Merrill, Ann Burton and Jon Hendricks.

In the last twenty years a number of important events have added substantially to the fame John Engels had already accumulated around the world, some of which are listed below:

In 1983, he received a Dutch government grant to visit the USA, where, for three months, he performed and studied with his close friend Mel Lewis.

In 1985, he was the very first musician to receive the "Bird" jazz award at the Northsea Jazz Festival in The Hague, where he has performed every year since its inception in 1976. The following motivation was provided by the jury:

"John is a sincere, often somewhat underestimated Jazz musician. He fits in many styles and settings. He plays with an enormous enthousiasm and is a perfect accompanist for Dutch and American jazz musicians. In granting This important jazz award, the jury wishes to express the appreciation John Engels rightly deserves as a jazz drummer"

John Engels has recorded more than sixty CD's and eighty records. Six of the albums received an Edison Award (the Dutch equivalent of the American Grammy Award). In 1986 and 1987, he made two extensive tours, including Japan, with the world-famous trumpet player Chet Baker, with whom he recorded four albums. In the same year he received the Benelux Award for best drummer from the "Slagwerk Courant", a renowned Dutch-language magazine specialised in this field; subsequently, he won this award each year up to 1993, and again in 2000 and 2006.

In 1988, John Engels received the most distinguished Dutch jazz award of all, the "Boy Edgar Prize", for his outstanding artistic achievements. Later, in 1992, the Dutch government provided him for the second time, with a grant to visit the USA to continue his studies, and in 1993, the Netherlands Jazz Foundation (Dutch acronym: SJIN) organised a tour, consisting of twenty-three concerts plus radio and television broadcasts, for a special combination of famous international musicians led by John Engels, to publicly honour his forty years as a professional jazz musician A compact disc commemorating these years, consisting of recordings of the tour with this ensemble under his leadership, was released in 1999.

In1997, he was the first non-American musician to receive the distinguished "Hall of Fame Award" from the Seventh Annual International Ocho Rios Jazz Festival held in Jamaica.

In 2001, John Engels was knighted in the Order of The Netherlands Lion (Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw) and will perform for the 25th consecutive year at the celebrated Northsea Jazz Festival.

(revised per June 1, 2001)
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