"A cult figure who should be a luminary..."

"A cult figure who should be a luminary..."
Teddy Edwards in Paris, France photo by Bernard Ailloud - quote by Gary Giddins

Teddy Edwards at De Tor Enschede The Netherlands

Teddy Edwards was an Americn saxophonist,composer, arranger, lyricist, husband, father, grandfather, teacher and friend to many all over the world. When in Holland, he liked to stay with the Huijts family where he was well-loved. 


Peter Huijts opened a jazz café named “De Tor,” worked with and agency, and later became road manager for Chet Baker.  Peter and his wife, Greetje, had four children, one son and three daughters.  During the ‘80s, they opened their house in Eibergen for jazz musicians that were passing through Holland, Germany and Belgium.

Teddy Edwards, Peter Huijts, Greetje Huijts and "the twins." circa 1981 - Photo by Dagblad Tubantia

For over 35 years, Peter Huijts was jazz programmer at De Tor.  Huijts produced records, organized jazz festivals and was road manager for American jazz musicians on tour throughout Europe and Japan such as Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Shaw, Teddy Edwards, Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton and Tony Williams. 

Peter Huijts was a very modest person, he didn’t not like to tout his own horn.  The same holds true for his wife, Greetje, the glue of the Huijts family. She held it all together, her family, plus hosting all these jazz musicians coming in and out of Eibergen throughout the years. “They were all very well behaved,” she said recently in a Dutch interview. 

Collage of still frames of video filmed by Kirsten Reynen© Kirsten Reynen


Meet some other members of the Huijts family! Teddy Edwards rehearsing with the Dual City Big Band in De Tor, Enschede, circa 1995. The sample song, one of Teddy's own compositions, The Cellar Dwellar. 

Greetje and Peter Huijts
De Tor 2003


from Open Huis in Eibergen by Peter Brusse,which appeared in de Volkskrant on June 18, 2005. 

Translated and loosely adapted from Dutch to American English by Kirsten Reynen

(the blogger/filmmaker).

Peter Huijts was, together with his wife Greetje, the driving force behind the success of Jazzpodium de Tor in Enschede, The Netherlands.

Peter was born in Rotterdam.  His father, Mr. J. Huijts was editor in chief of the NRC newspaper; and also active in the Rotterdam arts center named Lantaren/Venster. He traveled to Paris, France, where he visited the big ateliers of Ossip Zadkine and Naum Gabo.  Peter also put his creative talents at work and collaborated with Woody van Amen on a large mosaic made of broken tiles that were originally created by Louis van Roode for an insurance company.

Peter discovered jazz music during the ‘50s, while he was still in high school.  He father said it excited him.  Together with the owner of the local record store where he frequently dwelled, Peter ended up on stage with award-winning artist Pia Beck and offered her a bouquet of flowers.  The pictures appeared in the newspapers the following day.  He worked as a waiter at the Expo in Brussels, Belgium, and as a steward with the Holland America Line ending up in New York where he visited all the jazz clubs. Once he met Greetje, he decided to get a “real” job as an electrical engineer.
He landed a job with a safety technology company, which relocated its headquarters to the Eastern part of The Netherlands.  Peter and Greetje Huijts moved to this remote part of the country bordering the German border, where they discovered the club, De Tor (The Roach). Peter quickly started to organize concerts.  He met jazz promoter Wim Wigt, who got him a gig.  Peter’s first big gig, in 1982, was a three-month bus tour throughout Europe with Machito and his Cuban salsa band.  Sometimes he didn’t know where they were going to play that night!

Peter could tell you endless stories about stars who lost their plane tickets, who suddenly didn’t want to leave their hotel room, or who jumped out of a driving taxi.  He could instantly tell if there were frictions in the band by the way they played.  Dizzy Gillespie said after each tour: “I played well. Where’s my gift?” He would expect a new watch or a camera and wouldn’t perform until the present was opened and approved.

For trumpeter, Chet Baker, his problem child, he would go out in the middle of the night to look for oil for his mouthpiece. Chet had accidently rubbed denture adhesive on his mouthpiece and couldn’t play. When Chet Baker fell out of a window in 1988, Peter had to identify his body.  In his eyes, Chet was not a junkie, but  a simple farm boy who couldn’t handle life. Peter was devastated for months after that.

Peter refused to write his stories. And when the gigs were over, whether in Europe, America or Japan, he was happy to go home. He was crazy about his family, and preferred listening to a vinyl with a scratch on it than a perfect CD.  He was active in his local community and enjoyed the outdoors: once he did a 50-mile megahike, but only once and that was plenty.  On holidays he looked for deserted camp grounds and if his children, three daughters and a son, knew how to use the primus stove well, they’d receive the primus stove certificate.

He hated caravans until the day he found an old timer, fixed it, provided it with solar panels and a simple sound system.  Peter Huijts passed away on June 3rd, 2005, at the age of 68 in an unfortunate accident.

For the direct link to the Dutch article from the Volkskrant archive click below:


Live From The Netherlands:The Sesjun Radio Shows

In the early 70s, TROS, the Dutch radio network, began weekly broadcasts of jazz performances from clubs, cafes’ and other venues in the Netherlands.  Many great jazz veterans who were touring throughout Europe were recorded.  One of the most notable and memorable recordings was Dizzy Gillespie’s at De Tor, “Peter’s Club” in Enschede.

If you are a Dutch reader, for a full article by Coen de Jonge written for the 2012 November/December issue of jazzism.nl click below.  (From the archives of Jazzpodium de Tor.)



Louis Armstrong in Enschede stills from from youtube video
JAZZ IN HET VOETBALSTADION (1959)Click youtube link below:

In 1959, Louis Armstrong performed at the Diekman soccer stadium in Enschede, The Netherlands. The special concert was organized by the Enschede School of Textile.  Satchmo performed “High Society” and “You Never Walk Alone”,  among other songs.  Large crowds gather to greet Armstrong as he steps out of a bus smoking a cigarette, takes a seat with his lady in a coach, and signs some autographs for his fans.
Collage of still frames of video filmed by Kirsten Reynen
© Kirsten Reynen


November 1994 - one month before Teddy and I visited Enshede, Peter received a check in the amount of 1000 Guilders from renowned Dutch novelist and sculptor, Jan Wolkers.  Although he lived on the Frisian island of Texel, Wolkers was a big jazz fan and a regular visitor at De Tor. He told Peter once he like the music and the gig but he thought it was a pity, that such a well-known artist such as Mischa Mengelberg had to play on such a shabby piano.
Peter told him that next year, when the De Tor would celebrate its 25th year of existence, he would start raising money for a wing. Jan Wolkers told him he was willing to donate one thousand guilders toward the wing fund and that Peter could come and pick up his checks the next day. He also told Peter that he really wanted to be there when the wing finally would get inaugurated.

Note: The Kingdom of the Netherlands conferred Peter Huijts a civilian order of merit for his outstanding contributions to Jazz and service to the community of Enschede. Jan Wolkers passed away in October 2007.