14 Jan 2022


The renowned rhythm group from Max Woiski's 'La Tropicana' . Pioneers of Dutch Latin jazz.

'New York, the sixties: salsa is born. In the Netherlands Ritmo Natural joins forces with Alberto de Hond and Steve Boston. They were at the cradle of Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban music in the Netherlands. That history has now been recorded in a box set with two CDs and a documentary DVD. Bas Springer visited the seventy-somethings for Slagwerkkrant. The interview can be found in Slagwerkkrant 171 (Sept-Oct 2012).

The emergence of Latin jazz in our country runs parallel to the history of Ritmo Natural. This Surinamese-Dutch group formed the rhythm section of the famous Surinamese singer Max Woiski Jr. and became the regular band of jazz saxophonist Hans Dulfer in the late 1960s. Jan Laurens Hartong, frontman of Nueva Manteca, started his career there. Percussionist Steve Boston later became the first teacher of non-Western percussion at the conservatories of Rotterdam, Hilversum and Arnhem, where he trained just about all the renowned Dutch percussionists of the moment. On a beautiful box with two CDs with historical material plus a DVD on which the group members talk about their careers, the glory years of these almost forgotten Latin pioneers revive.'

Ritmo Natural, pioneers of Dutch Latin jazz

Alberto de Hond and Steve Boston tell their story

Friday 5 October, Slagwerkkrant 171 (Sept-Oct 2012)

by Bas Springer

Although Ritmo Natural laid the foundation for the emergence of Latin jazz in our country, the history of this group was almost forgotten. But now the glory years of this influential group are revived, on a unique box with two CDs with historical material - including previously unreleased recordings from the period 1969-1979 - plus a DVD on which the group members talk about their careers. Bas Springer spoke extensively with band members from the very beginning, Steve Boston and Alberto de Hond.

Long before the term world music was introduced - exactly 25 years ago this summer - our country already had a small Latin American and Surinamese music scene. One of the pioneers was the famous Surinamese-Dutch musician Max Woiski Sr. (1911-1981), who played Latin American and Surinamese music in his own club La Cubana in Amsterdam's Leidsestraat. He became immortal with the song B.B. met R., or Bruine Bonen met Rijst (Brown Beans with Rice).

At the end of the 1950s, Woiski Sr. left for Mallorca, where he bought a nightclub. His son Max Woiski jr. (1930-2011) continued his father's tradition in his own club Tropicana, first on Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam and from the early 1960s on Leidsekruisstraat. He gathered various musicians around him, including Surinamese-born Raul Burnett on congas, Steve Boston on timbales and trombonist, singer and percussionist John 'Grunchi' Grünberg. The pianist was Ronald Langestraat, son of orchestra leader Laguestra (stage name of Willie Langestraat).

Alberto de Hond looks back with a smile: "I first came to Tropicana in 1963 and found it so enjoyable that I came back every evening. The orchestra consisted of nothing but top musicians. I heard Latin American and Caribbean music, what a party that was! At one point I asked if I could play along. Guest musicians were the order of the day, so the request was granted, the beginning of a long musical collaboration."

Tropicana's formula was unique and the club became a household name at home and abroad. After a business conflict, the collaboration with Woiski Jr. ended in 1967. Steve Boston: "We parted without enmity. I always loved Max."

La Bonanza
After the breakup with Woiski, Alberto de Hond was officially asked to join Ritmo Natural. "That was an easy step for me, because I was already playing with them every night. I knew the repertoire and knew exactly what to do. Our first engagement was at the Rotterdam nightclub La Bonanza, where we played every night between nine and three. It was very tough because out of six hours of playing we only had a fifteen minute break. But we had a lot of fun."

Meanwhile, Ritmo Natural was increasingly asked for radio, TV and studio recordings. For example, the group collaborated on Dong-dong-di-ki-di-gi-dong, the Golden Earrings' first No. 1 hit in 1968.

Hans Dulfer
In 1969, Ritmo Natural's career really took off by collaborating with jazz saxophonist Hans Dulfer, who was particularly charmed by this group of musicians. The weekly jazz nights with Hans Dulfer and Ritmo Natural in Paradiso became a great success. In the same year Hans Dulfer won the Wessel Ilcken Prijs. Dulfer was already under contract to EMI and arranged for Ritmo Natural to play on his first LP, The Morning After the Third (1970), with guest musician Jan Akkerman. 1970 also saw the recording of Dulfer & Ritmo Natural's second LP, Candy Clouds, featuring the hit single Red Red Lebanon, with vocals by Steve Boston and John 'Grunchi' Grünberg.

Ritmo Natural performed with increasing frequency, accompanying such artists as Ben Webster, Don Byas and Philly Joe Jones. At the end of 1971 a third album with Dulfer was released, only not under the name Ritmo Natural, but entitled Hans Dulfer El Saxofón. After almost three years, the collaboration with Dulfer was over. Alberto de Hond: "Before he got to know us, Hans Dulfer always played with different musicians. So the years with Dulfer were really unique, because he never played with the same group for so long."

Ritmo Natural 79
Ritmo Natural continued, but when John 'Grunchi' Grünberg returned to his native Suriname in 1979, the end was in sight. Together with pianist Jan Laurens Hartong, later founder and bandleader of Nueva Manteca, Steve Boston and Alberto de Hond made a new start under the name Ritmo Natural 79, which performed successfully for two more years but said its final goodbye in 1981 in De Flint in Amersfoort.

Steve Boston: "We didn't get it all for free and we never got rich, but I can proudly say that we laid the foundation for Latin jazz in the Netherlands."

Boston was appointed the first teacher of non-Western percussion at the conservatories in Hilversum, Rotterdam and Amersfoort, where he later trained famous percussionists such as Lucas van Merwijk, Jaime Rodríguez , Martin Verdonk, Nippy Noya and Bart Fermie.

Steve Bostons 75th birthday was the reason for a big party on September 1, 2010 in a sold out Bimhuis in Amsterdam, with as highlight the reunion of Ritmo Natural. Unfortunately, two members of the first hour were not present at the gig: John 'Grunchi' Grünberg passed away in 2004, and bassist Jan Jacobs in 2009.

The release of the double CD/DVD box set fills Alberto de Hond with great pride: "Finally recognition after all these years. That feeling prevails! I am very grateful to initiator Marcel Visser of MVE Music Productions and record company Music & Words for this wonderful tribute."

Ritmo Natural is a beautifully designed and compiled box set of two CDs plus a DVD documentary, together accounting for almost four hours of material. (Zimbraz / Music& Words)

Translated from Dutch with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Disc 1
1. Piano Merengue 2:40
2. Fremoejaja 3:06
3. O Barquinho 2:44
4. Dee Dee 2:14
5. Este Tumbao 3:18
6. La Malanga 2:41
7. Se Acabo Lo Que Se Daba 3:48
8. Que Sabor 2:40
9. Chora Tua Tristeza 3:18
10. Augustia 3:35
11. Sabor A Mi 2:44
12. Cumbia (Cha Cha Cha) 3:33
13. El Pregon De La Montaña 4:24
14. Bolero Natural 1 4:24
15. Bolero Natural 2 3:30
16. Guapacha 3:38
17. Oeh Wau Wau 3:12
18. Pala Paloma 3:27
19. Ritmo D'Ancaño 3:09
20. Vamos A Gozar 5:14
21. Mies Elena 3:35
22. Porque T'Empeñas 1:25

Disc 2
1. Bernie's Tune 4:58
2. Morning 4:08
3. Manteca 7:52
4. Aruanda 8:20
5. Blue Bossa 6:55
6. Descarga in 6/8 13:28
7. Descarga (w/ Hans Dulfer) 6:45
8. Red Libanon 1:50
9. Lover Man 9:30
10. Descarga Cachau 11:15

Bass – Evert Braumuller (tracks: CD2: 1-3), Frank Noya (tracks: CD1: 8-11, CD2: 4, 5, 6, 10)
Bongos – Amancio Batta (tracks: CD2: 1-3)
Contrabass – Jan Jacobs (tracks: CD1: 1-7, CD2: 7, 8), Rob Langereis (tracks: CD2: 9)
Drums, Timbales, Percussion, Cowbell – Alberto De Hond (tracks: All Tracks)
Guitar – John Schuursma (tracks: CD2: 7-8)
Piano – Arnold Klos (tracks: CD2: 10), Henk Reys (tracks: CD1: 8-11), Jan Huydts (tracks: CD2: 4-5), Ronald Langestraat (tracks: CD1: 1-7, 12-22, CD2: 9)
Saxophone, Trumpet – Joop Hokke (tracks: CD1: 12-22)
Tenor Saxophone – Dick Vennik (tracks: CD2: 4-5), Hans Dulfer (tracks: CD2: 7-8), Ruud Brink (tracks: CD2: 10)
Timbales – Evert Braumuller (tracks: CD2: 4-5)
Trumpet – Unknown Artist (tracks: CD2: 10)
Vibraphone – Carl Schulze (tracks: CD1: 1-7, CD2: 9)
Vocals – Don Pancho (tracks: CD1: 8-11)
Vocals, Congas, Timbales, Coro – Steve Boston (3) (tracks: CD1: All Tracks, CD2: 1-3, 6-10)
Vocals, Percussion, Contrabass, Congas, Tom Tom, Timbales – John Grunberg (tracks: CD1: 1-22, CD2: 4-10)

CD 1 Track 1-7 - Ritmo Natural, Wereldomroep Opnamen
CD1 Track 8-11 - Ritmo Natural en Don Pancho
CD1 Track 12-22 - Ritmo Natural, La Bonanza, Rotterdam
CD2 Track 1-3 - Ritmo Natural '79, Koninklijk Instituut Voor De Tropen (K.I.T.)
CD2 Track 4-5 - Ritmo Natural, Sesjun
CD2 Track 6 - Ritmo Natural, The Jazz Corner, Haarlem
CD2 Track 7-8 - Ritmo Natural en Hans Dulfer, Jazz Spectrum Radio
CD2 Track 9 - Ritmo Natural, Hammerfield Jazz Festival 1969
CD2 Track 10 - Ritmo Natural, Haarlemse Jazz Club

This box is dedicated to John "Grunchi" Grunberg