Dirigent, Componist, Arrangeur, Pianist en jazzdocent Rob Pronk (84) is vrijdagavond 6 juli in München overleden, 84 jaar oud.
4 september 2012 heeft er een Memorial voor Rob Pronk plaatsgevonden in Bodegraven.
Het was een indrukwekkend afscheid van een groot artiest.
Joy Misa en Enno Spaanderman bedankt voor de geweldige Power Point presentatie, dank aan ook aan het Metropole Orkest en de Stichting Vrienden van het Metropole Orkest voor hun financiele bijdrage.
~ Rene Laanen -
A self-effacing man with a most appealing sense of humour,
which manifests itself from time to time in his charts,
Rob Pronk has dedicated himself to Jazz and associated music
forms since he gave up studying economics in 1949 to become
a professional musician.
Born in Malang, Indonesia, on January 3, 1928, Rob did not
have great exposure to Jazz music in early childhood because
his father, a railway engineer, was a fan of Charlie Kunz
and Victor Sylvester. However, at the age of six he did
hear Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" on the radio and was
Rob's mother sang and played a little piano, and it is typical
of Pronk that he says: "My mother would hold me in her arms
and sing to me and I used to cry. But not because she sang
out of tune."
At the age of eight he began taking piano lessons, but they
only lasted for six months because the family was constantly
on the move. In 1946, Rob had the good fortune to meet Jerry
van Rooyen, when he brought a big band to Indonesia to entertain
the troops. Says Rob, "Jerry was later to teach me the fundamentals
of arranging and I owe him a great debt of gratitude."
In 1947, at the age of 19, Rob moved to Holland, studied economics at Rotterdam University and
gained a bachelor's degree. At this stage in his life he
was undecided as to whether to pursue a career in economics
or become a professional musician. Happily for music, he
finally chose the latter option and enrolled at the Royal
Conservatory in The Hague where he studied trumpet, piano
Rob Pronk's first gigs, in 1949, were on a ship in an international
student exchange programme. He began by playing drums, then
switched to piano. His idols at that time were Duke Ellington,
still an uncontested No. 1, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and
It was on one of these exchange trips that he spent some
days in New York and visited Bop City where he heard the
Buddy De Franco Sextet, which included Jimmy Raney, Kenny
Drew, Teddy Kotick and Art Taylor. He also had the opportunity
to enjoy performances by Louis Armstrong's All Stars and
Louis Jordan's Tympany Five.
In the late 1950s, Rob joined the trumpet section of the
Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra in Cologne and soon became its
principal arranger. During that period he was called upon
to write an arrangement of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
for Benny Carter who was guesting with the band. Says Pronk:
"Benny paid me a great compliment. He said that it sounded
like a Quincy Jones arrangement. I felt like a king!"
In the 1960s, Pronk subbed for a week on trumpet in the
long-established Dutch band, the Ramblers, and it was then
that a colleague in the trumpet section, who was house arranger
for the Metropole
Orchestra, suggested that he should try writing some
charts for this illustrious ensemble.
Rob took up the challenge, met it highly impressively, and,
went on to contribute more than 1,200 arrangements to the
Metropole library. He has derived tremendous satisfaction
from his work with the Metropole
Orchestra, which he regards as an aggregation which
has no parallel anywhere in the world.
Says Rob: "It is a unique ensemble. It is not simply a big
band with an added string section. It is a totally integrated
unit and it is a tremendous challenge to write for it, but
it is also a hugely fulfilling experience."
Pronk says that, aside from the invaluable help he had from
Jerry van Rooyen in developing his arranging skills, he
learned by trial and error. "And," he says with a smile,
"there were many errors".
He cites as his principal hero in the field of arranging,
the late Billy May. "For me," says Ron, "he was the arranger.
The master. But I also have great admiration for Bill
Holman, Al Cohn, Quincy Jones and Gil Evans."
One memory which Rob Pronk treasures above all was his being
commissioned to produce and write the arrangements for a
Marlene Dietrich album, "Die Neue Marlene", recorded at
the EMI Studios in St John's Wood in September 1964. He
conducted a 40-piece orchestra which included Kenny Baker,
Harry Roche, Bobby Orr, Kenny Clare, Ivor Mairants and Larry
He also fondly recalls three sessions in Stockholm:
One in 1953 for Carousel, on which he played piano with
Zoot Sims, Bob Burgess, Frank
Rosolino, Ake Persson, Stan Levy and Don Bagley;
One in 1983 for the Sonet label, "In Goodmans Land", with
Georgie Fame, Sylvia Vrethammar and a studio big band, and
Another for Sonet in 1988 called "String Along With Basie",
for which he transcribed Basie charts for four guitars (Rune
Gustafsson, George Wadenius, Bob Sylven and Bobbo Andersson)
plus bass and drums.
Pronk's spell as principal arranger for the Metropole
Orchestra lasted for more than 30 years, his last recording
being with trombonist Andy
Martin in 1998. In 1975 he was appointed guest conductor
with the orchestra a post he held for 21 years. Last year,
the Metropole administration decided to honour him with
a tribute concert to which he was able to invite two special
guests of his own choosing.
Rob recalls: "The concert was set for June 1, with my old
friend John Clayton Jr. conducting the orchestra, and I
planned to invite Bill Perkins and Andy Martin. But, unfortunately,
Bill's doctors advised him not to do the gig because of
his rapidly deteriorating physical condition. I was lucky
enough to be able to get Pete Christlieb to deputise for
him and he did a great job.
"Bill Perkins died in August last year and his memorial
concert at the Union in Los Angeles was a must for me to
attend. I had known him since 1964 and I miss him dearly.
He was on my first CD with the Metropole
Orchestra, "I Wished On The Moon"."
For the tribute concert last June, the Metropole
Orchestra compiled a CD of 18 of the Pronk charts they
had recorded between 1982 and 1992 which was presented to
the 200 guests who attended the event in the Nordring Radio's
Says Rob: "I can't tell you how honoured I was to have Pete
Christlieb and Andy
Martin with us on that occasion. That was a very emotional
event and it took me weeks to get both my feet back on the
As well as being an arranger of the utmost versatility,
Pronk is immensely resourceful and has an appealingly whimsical
streak to his musical nature which asserts itself from time
to time. The arrangement of "I'm Just Wild About Harry",
which he wrote in 1986 as a feature for the remarkable guitarist
Eef Albers with the Metropole
Orchestra, is a good example. It is taken at a furious
pace and, in the out chorus, there are key changes every
four bars in the first 24, from F to Eb to D to Bb to F
and then to Eb.
In addition to his arranging activities, Rob Pronk taught
arranging and composition for many years at Rotterdam Conservatory.
He won the Nordring Radio Prize in 1981 and the Blaupunkt
Music Award in 1988.
Johnny Mandel has said of Pronk: "He is truly a weaver of
spells. Not only is he able to draw forth moods and textures
from an orchestra that I have never heard before, but he
also swings his butt off."
Perkins said, "I believe he ranks with the
finest of our modern composer/arranger/conductors."
Says Rob: "When I look back on my 50-plus years as a professional
musician, one of the abiding sources of satisfaction for
me is that I had the fantastic good fortune to work with
so many of the great musicians I idolised back in the 1940s
"One of the greatest moments in my career occurred in June
1991, when Ken Poston of the KLON radio station in Los Angeles
put together an orchestra to perform a concert playing arrangements
I had written for the Metropole
Orchestra. I conducted the orchestra and guest soloists
were Dianne Schuur, Buddy de Franco, Art Farmer, Chuck Findley,
Gary Foster and Carl
"I got the shock of my life when, during one rehearsal,
a man walked up to me and introduced himself as Pete Rugulo.
He asked to have a look at my charts because he wanted to
see how I scored for strings.
"And another great happening for me was the presence at
the concert of Artie Shaw, then 81-years-old, accompanied
by Arnold Schnberg's daughter. He was planning a tour and
he asked me if he could use some of my charts. Imagine that!
The man I idolised as a teenager wanting to use my arrangements!
And the next day, to cap it all, Artie took Buddy
DeFranco and me out to dinner."
After I moved to Holland in 1979, I heard about this arranger guy, Rob Pronk. When I first heard his music, he immediately struck me as the most soulful arranger in Europe. Not only did he know how to handle any size ensemble, he also knew how to write in every style that I could think of (that I enjoyed listening to!). He is great at writing in classical settings, big band and bebop and he can burn a hole in the score sheet with his blues! For more than 20 years, I've loved listening to his music, studying his scores and stealing his ideas! Sometimes I impress myself with my superb taste! Rob's fan forever.
credit to Jazz Now Interactive and Mike Hennessey.
He was such a talent! And very under-appreciated as far as I know. Not enough musicians here in the USA know about him! We are a very selfish country in general. I knew when I got started as such a young person in this music business that I would see a lot of the people that I worked with were destined to pass before me... It's still so sad when I have to see it. I have seen so many pass recently (Warren Luening, Clare Fischer, Uan Rasey just to name a few).
Haagsche Courant, 28 mei 2003 (door Bert Jansma)
echo's van Vera Lynn hinger nog in de lucht, Nederland was
aan de wederopbouw en toen was er op eens het Rob Pronk
Boptet. En er was moderne jazz in Nederland. Een sprookjesbegin dat behoorlijk strookt met de werkelijkheid.
Want de in het Nederlands-Indische Malang geboren Pronk
(1928) had dáár al de Nieuwe Muziek gehoord,
terwijl jong Nederland hier nog de oordoppen van de Duitse
bezetting in had.
Het sprookje wordt nog mooier wanneer na de oorlog (1947)
de Haagse, trompet-spelende broers van Rooyen met een band naar Indonesië gaan
om voor de Nederlandse strijdkrachten te spelen. Daar horen
zij voor het eerst de bebop, de Jazzrevolutie van Charlie
Parker, Dizzie Gillespie & Co. En ze maken op hun toernee
in Bandung kennis met de jonge Rob Pronk.
Rob zou daarna naar Den Haag terugkeren om zijn
studie aan het Koninklijk Conservatorium af te maken, Pronk
ging ook. Hij zag
'live', -Fats Navario, J.J. Johnson, Stan Getz en het Erroll
Pianist en trornpettist Rob Pronk zou daarna zijn boptet
vormen en vier jaar later een van eerste rnoderne Nederlandse
jazzopnames maken (heruitgebracht als 'Róyal mixed
- combo's in Nederland'). Het begin van een carrière
die Pronk en zijn muziek over de hele wereld zou brengen.
Want behalve trompettist, pianist - en bij tijd en wijlen
ook zanger - zou Pronk vooral befaamd worden om zijn arrangementen
voor grote orkesten.
groeide er naar toe via zijn werk bij The Millers, via het
Duitse orkest van Alvino Garcia, het orkest van de Nord
West Deutsche Rundfunk, als arrangeur van het Kurt Edelhagen
orkest, als arrangeur voor de Skymasters, de big band van
Jerry van Rooyen, en voor het Metropole Orkest. Er zijn
weinig orkestmusici in Europa die nooit een arrangement
van Rob Pronk hebben uitgevoerd.
Zijn orkestbehandeling werd bijna een standaard van 'hoe
het moest' en een Nederlandse orkestleider, pianist en arrangeur
als Henk Meutgeert (Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw)
kan je wat dat betreft een muzikale zoon van Pronk noemen.
Meutgeert: "Hij is mijn voorbeeld. Buitengewoon integer,
altijd gericht op de muziek. Of hij nu een tango arrangeerde of een jazzstuk schreef,
hij is altijd met grote zorgvuldigheid met muziek omgegaan.
En als ik over de grenzen kijk, vind ik dat hij in het rijtje
hoort van Thad jones, Quincy Jones en Gil Evans. De toparrangeurs
van de wereld.'
Pronk werd zondag 1 juni 2003 geféteerd, want hij
was 75 jaar geworden.
In de eerste plaats door het Metropole Orkest dat hij twintig
jaar lang van arrangementen voorzag en twintig jaar als
Zijn composities en zijn arrangementen werden gespeeld.
Met een reeks internationale gasten van naam die hun muzikale
respect kwamen betuigen.
Schneider with Rob
complete 'Rob Pronk' Boptet omstreeks 1950 (foto Wouter
collectie NJA. V.l.n.r.: Hans Tan (b), Jerry van Rooyen
(tp), André Blok (ts),
Rob Pronk (piano), Ack
van Rooyen (tp), Babes Pronk (voc), Han de Jong