Jean Warland

Jean Warland - belgian jazz bass arranger - GAM Music

©Photography / Jos Knaepen



Belgian Master bassist Jean Warland, the first European bebop bassist, worked regularly with legends a.o. Kenny Clarke, Lee Morgan, Carmen McRae, Dizzy Gillespie, Don Byas, Johnny Griffin, Bob Brookmeyer, J.J. Johnson, Lucky Thompson, …

Picking up the bass at age 19 (1945), he was a member of the Quartet du Hot Club de Belgique, with Toots Thielemans. In 1949, they represented Belgium in Paris at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at the Salle Pleyel.

Consequently a member of the bands of Stan Brenders, Fud Candrix and Jean Omer, he was very active in the recording studios in the 50s (Michel Legrand, Stéphane Grapelli, Sacha Distel). Performing in Paris with the orchestra of Jacques Hélian, he met modern jazz drums creator Kenny Clarke, with whom he would share a long and fruitful musical friendship (performances and recordings with the Kenny Clarke Sextet).

Touring the world over with stars of jazz and popular music, he was, together with French bassist Pierre Michelot, on the tenth position in the DOWN BEAT Poll of 1958.

In 1962, he became a member of the R.I.A.S. Big Band in Berlin (Radio In American Sector), and regularly recorded there for the label TELEFUNKEN.

In 1967, he moved to Cologne, Germany, to become the bassist of the WDR Big Band (West Deutsche Rundfunk), which he remained until his retirement from the band in 1992.

Parallelly to the WDR, he was also a founding member of the legendary Kenny Clarke/Francy Bolland Big Band, as well as the small group Clarke and Bolland used to tour with guests. With these three bands, Warland records and performs with the who’s who of jazz history.

Since the early 90s he was spending more time in Belgium again, performing and recording with vocalist Mary Kay’s band, as well as with Richard Rousselet, Michel Herr, the BRT Big Band, Jeanfrançois Prins, and, later, in duo and quartet with Fabrice Alleman.

In Belgium, his arrangements were performed by the ACT Big Band, the BRUSSELS JAZZ ORCHESTRA, and his bands SAX NO END and TAKE A TRAIN Sextet (dedicated to the music of Duke Ellington).

In 1998, he was awarded the Belgian DJANGO D’OR for his entire career achievements.

In 2005, Jean Warland was commissioned by Jazz Middelheim to write for a band composed of 12 double basses, the Jean WARLAND Bass Orchestra. His arrangements on jazz classics were performed by an international gathering of classical and jazz bass players.

Jean WARLAND published a book of memoirs: “Bass hits.”

He passed away after a long illness on June 17, 2015 in his home near Cologne.

The Jean Warland Music Fund (his archives) has been acquired by the MIM (Brussels).

artist online

Artist on GAM Records

Mary Kay - Make-Someone-Happy - GAM Music

Make Someone Happy

"Mary Kay has been "singing her heart out" for many years, and finally had the opportunity to make a recording surrounded by some of the finest Belgian musicians.
I was very happy to participate in the project. Open your heart to Mary's heart and "she'll make you happy"" Toots Thielemans