Johnny Van Derrick - Great violinist!

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Johnny Van Derrick - Great violinist!

Postby TedGottsegen » Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:19 pm

Hi All,

UK members, I have a question - What can you tell me about Johnny Van Derrick? While I've only heard one song featuring his playing, I was really impressed and consider him to be on top of a very short list of excellent swing violinists. Most just leave me cold, but his playing seems(ed) filled with such warmth, a vibrant energy and a great sense of swing. Is he still alive?


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Postby stanley-munchington » Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:26 pm

I think he may have featured on one of Ian Cruikshanks' c.d.s."Django meets the Duke"comes to mind.I havn't the c.d to hand at present but I'll dig it out later.I don't mean to wish Johnny to an early grave but I think there was an orbituary in the sleeve notes to him.
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Postby Thrip » Mon Dec 15, 2003 10:29 pm

I saw him play with Ian Cruickshank and Fapy a number of times. There is also some video footage of him playing with Bireli and Diz Dizley knocking about. He was a wonderful player. He passed away sometime in the mid to late nineties, I think.
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Postby Teddy Dupont » Tue Dec 16, 2003 10:37 am

Johnny Van Derrick died in 1995. He played/recorded with many different musicians. In addition to those Thrip mentions, they included John Etheridge, Nils Solberg, Jack Toogood and Denny Wright. I have seen CD's of his still available on the net somewhere.
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Postby Thrip » Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:21 pm

Wasn't he also a member of the infamous Bob Docker's "Hot Club of London"?
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Postby benbows protege » Tue Dec 16, 2003 2:41 pm

Ted, what exactly would you like to know. He played with my guitar teacher. He was a member of Denny Wrights Hot Club of London and regularly played the Ealing jazz festival here in london. He spawned a following generation of players like Mike Piggot who still play this style. Send me a message of what you want info wise and I can find out for you. Also if you send me your e-mail i can (when i get home) give you a web adress with some examples of him on! also check out they have a c.d of his that I think had some listenable tracks.
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Re: Johnny Van Derrick - Great violinist!

Postby sofiztykat » Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:20 pm

I have to wonder at the average age of the members of this site because so little info has been posted about Johnny van Derrick who was one of the greatest gypsy jazz violinists who ever played gypsy jazz violin. But the guy was capable of playing in any genre. I'm amazed by the seeming lack of knowledge about him. He was an in demand, first call violinist for many gypsy jazz bands visiting the U.K. and a permanent member of Diz Disley's Soho String Quintette. His technique was superior to Stephane Grappelli's and he swung more mightily. But, he was more influenced by Joe Venuti than he was by Grappelli. If there had ever been any justice in this world, he should have become far, far more famous the Stephane. He was what I call a first call musician so when some monster violin playing was needed, Johnny was the man that everyone turned to so his playing could be heard soloing with Henry Mancini on the Pink Panther theme and in the Renault Clio ads than ran and ran on T.V. for years. My God, this man did everything in his musical life. He played for a while with the Halle Orchestra,with the Beatles, bebop with Tubby Hayes and with Rod Stewart. Personality wise, he was known to have the highest integrity, a great sense of humour and to be a wonderful and caring teacher. I'd love to write his biography. If ever there was a deserving and very interesting subject for such a book, Johnny would be near the top of my list. Unfortunately, I only got to see him perform live once at a gypsy jazz gig arranged by the Portsmouth Jazz Society led by Fapy Lafertin with second guitarist Ian Cruikshank and the fabulous Coleridge Goode on bass. Johnny, you are sadly missed both as man and a musician. Let us not forget this man's commitment to the world of jazz. A truly brilliant musician whose sparkle rubbed off any anyone that he played with.
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Re: Johnny Van Derrick - Great violinist!

Postby JazzProducer » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:18 pm

I came across this site by accident but perhaps I can add a little something about Johnny Van Derrick:

I knew Johnny and his wife (Ashkin) very well - when at college as a teenager - in London in the 1960s. Wow what a talent! The previous posting by sofiztykat is very accurate. Johnny had an enormous affect on my musical career. Perhaps little known is that Johnny also loved to build violins and violas and he made some remarkable and quite beautiful instruments. He knew and loved anything and everything about the violin family and their history and taught much of it to me - And he taught me much about music. In particular he introduced me to many of Django's recordings that were not generally available at the time (Ironically many years later I got to work with Stephane Grappelli in the USA), the many Venuti-Lang recordings which I "fell for" immediately (In particular I was astounded by the harmonic sophistication and by bass saxist Adrian Rollini's wonderful solos) and to many of his favorite (which then became - and still are - my favorite) classical violin pieces: the Beethoven Violin Concerto, the Prokofiev #1 violin concerto and works by Mendelssohn etc etc. At the time I knew Johnny I was studying sax and Johnny found a great teacher for me (I could play but I couldn't read music). We spent hundreds of hours listening to and talking about music together and he was very much my mentor for a period of about 5 years (about 1964 to 1969). I loved the man dearly for the musical knowledge and heritage he passed on to me. In 1974 I moved to the United States and became a successful Jazz Producer and Recording Engineer. I owe much of my success to my appreciation for and understanding of musical art that Johnny taught and encouraged in me. I know that Johnny passed away in the mid 1990s but... Thanks anyway Johnny.
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