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The SDS Story (1954 - 1994):
     The 31 st of March 1954 was a historical day - at least for the members of the "Original Dixie Stompers". It was their first public appearance. They played in the auditorium of their college in Bienne-Madretsch. The young musicians all had idols - famous black American soloists. In order to at least look like these they applied black make up to their faces, arms and hands and wore black wigs. These wigs had been made by the mother of the trumpet player André J. Racine. The concert was a big success. Back then nobody would have thought that this was the beginning for a band that would last 40 years with the original leader and trumpet player. This first appearance was followed by many more. The personnel and the name changed. Instead of "Original Dixie Stompers" they called themselves the "Dixie Stompers". André J. Racine found out that bands with that name had existed in Belgium and in America. So the "Original" was not right. But the new name was not satisfying either. Shortly before doing the first recording in 1964, the name changed again and this was the birth of the "Swiss Dixie Stompers".

     With this name and under the supervision of André J. Racine the "SDS" became one of the best bands in Switzerland and popular name in Europe as well as in the USA. They played Festivals in Breda, Warsaw, Frankfurt, Prerov, Dresden, Ansbach and many other cities. This and radioshows in Germany and Switzerland made the "SDS" Ambassadors of Swiss Jazz. In 1974 they made their first trip to New Orleans - they became honorary citizens. In 1984 and 1989 they revisitted and had lots of musical success playing in the "Crescent City".

     In 1969 the 1 st International Old Time Jazz Meeting Biel-Bienne was organized by the "SDS", in 1993 the 25th edition took place. International well known artists have appeared at the meetings and have played with the "SDS". Albert Nicholas, Trummy Young, Benny Waters, Ken Colyer, Beryl Bryden, Big Jay Ginyard and many others.Together with Albert Nicholas and later with Benny Waters, records were produced which document the quality of the "SDS" and their appreciation by great Jazz musicians.

     While we're talking about records: The "SDS" have produced 16 as of now. Four 45's and 12 LP's and CD's. Since the end of 1993 one of their CD's is available in the US: Petite Fleur. George H. Buck from New Orleans has it on his Jazzology label and is proud to present the "SDS" through his company.

     Naturally it was not easy to be a bandleader all the time. There have been 29 changes in personell since 1964 creating many problems for "Mister SDS" André J. Racine. Every change involved new arrangements and sometimes a different style. But the important things remained: The ability to play, the love for traditional jazz and the great music. And .... "Mr. SDS" André J. Racine, tp/Idr.

     In 1954 at the bands first appearance André was 16 years old. In 1994 when the big Jubilee concert took place at the Kongresshaus in Biel-Bienne he was 56 years "young". The best age.

     Dear André, dear Swiss Dixie Stompers: Happy 40th Birthday. Thanks a lot for your great Jazz and your friendship.

     All the best for the future and .... keep swinging.
Yours Walter L. Henne

The SDS Story (1994 - 1999):
     On 25 March 1994 the 40th birthday of the Swiss Dixie Stompers was celebrated at the Kongresshaus in Biel. Many former members of the band showed up and Rod Mason, tp, was the invited Starguest. Needless to say that it was a great party and many memories were recalled. The music was exciting and towards the end 13 musicians were on the stage playing together. Even many of them had left the SDS years ago they understood each other very well and enjoyed jaming tunes like Bourbon Street Parade, Eh las bas, When the Saints and others. It was a wonderful evening and a reward for André J. Racine, tp/ldr, for being with the band since the beginning.

     But life must go on and the Swiss Dixie Stompers, active as ever, did not sit back on their merits. In May of 1995 they were invited to a Jazz Festival in Gornichem/NL and could be heard at the 1st Oldtime Jazz Festival Einsiedeln and at the New Orleans Jazztage Lenk. Naturally they played more concerts in Switzerland.

     The 27th International Old Time Jazz Meeting from 3 to 5 November 1995 was a very special one for the Swiss Dixie Stompers. They played together with a Legend of Jazz: Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham. That great man was 90 ½ years old at that time, but full of energy an in a great playing mood. The SDS enforced by Mike Goetz, p, enjoyed every minute. A live CD was a documentation of this wonderful event. Unfortunately Doc died 1 ½ years later. He will always be remembered.

     In 1996 again a trip to Holland was made to the Jazz Festival in Enkhuisen followed by many concerts in Switzerland. Augst, Rheinfelden, Aegerten, Le Landeron and others. From 1 to 3 November the 28th IOTJM in Biel was the target of Jazzlovers from many countries again. Chris Barber, the Viking Jazz Band, Rod Mason and other great bands made it a big success

     A new CD was produced in 1997 by the SDS. The name of it: Nice to see you. A wonderful composition by Mr. SDS, André J. Racine. In Holland a Discography of the SDS is released, compiled by Erwin Elvers and Gerard Bielderman. Naturally the band played many concerts and festivals. Bad Säckingen/D, Solothurn, Delemont, Düdingen and St. Imier. Just to mention some of them. Another highlight was, as every year, the International Old Time Jazz Meeting from 7 to 9 November 1997. This time John Barnes from England and again Mike Goetz were guests of the SDS. John Barnes, bs, as cl and voc, one of the very well known English musicians, is a great soloist on all his instruments and a very charming singer. Recordings for a CD were made during the Meeting. The CD is very nice and has lots of great tunes on it.

     The SDS kicked off the year 1998 with a tour in France and they played in Altkirch and Porrentruy. Many concerts in Switzerland followed. On 27 March 1998 the SDS celebrated the 44th birthday of the band together with their good friend Tommy Burton, p. Together they recorded the music for another CD which is also great. From 6 to 8 November there was another celebration due. The 30th edition of the International Old Time Jazz Meeting. André J. Racine, musical director and organizer of the Meeting since 1969 naturally was honoured at this event. Amongst other commondations he became "Honorary Member of the Radio 8 Jazzhouse" located in Ansbach/D. Another very important date in 1998 was the homepage of the SDS opened on 27 November: www. and the E-mail address: info@swissdixiestompers.

     The year 1999 did not start to good. In February we were informed that our dear friend Tommy Burton had a stroke. That was very bad news. But in the meantime he is recovering very well and we hope to see him soon again.

     For the Swiss Dixie Stompers 1999 could almost be called the "Germany Year". Konstanz, three days at the Dinkelsbühl Festival, the SWR Hot Jazz Festival in Rust. At this event they played together with Spats Langham, bjo and Daniel Breitenstein, p. The SWR recorded the concert and aired most of it. Some concerts in Switzerland: Zofingen, Winterthur, Biel Lake, Delemont, Grenchen and so on. Not to forget the 31st International Old Time Jazz Meeting from 15 to 17 October. Together with Mike Goetz, p the Swiss Dixie Stompers accompanied Irakli de Davrichevy, tp, from France. "A tribute to Louis Armstrong" was the theme.

The SDS Story (2000 - 2004):
     The new century started for the Swiss Dixie Stompers on 2 January 2000 with a concert in Leubringen. The concert to celebrate the 46th Jubilee of the SDS took place on 31 March. Guests were Irakli de Davrichewy, tp and Mike Goetz,p. This combination had played together during the IOTJM 1999. It was the idea of everybody involved to produce a CD and that was done on 1 April 2000 when the chosen tunes were recorded. The SDS payed three more concerts with Irakli and Mike. These were on 29 June, 25 August and 4 November. The concert on 4 November at the 26th Cheserex Jazz Traditional was sold out 14 days in advance. This was the last time that Marcel Lack, bjo, played officially with the Swiss Dixie Stompers. Thank you Marcel for all the years with the SDS and your great Banjo. Kurt Gasser, the brother of Willi Gasser, tb, joined the band to play Banjo and Guitare. A big welcome.

     Naturally many more concerts followed. 30 June at the "Bürgenstock", 11 August in Visp, on 18 August at the traditional Biel Lake Riverboat Party and on 31 August at the opening of the Biel Fair. A very special concert took place on 21 October in Oberharmersbach in the Black Forrest. The local press wrote "swinging ambassadors from Dixieland" and "a full house". A big success for the Swiss Dixie Stompers, which closed out the year of 2000 with their "Santa Claus Concert" in the Dixie Club in Aegerten.

     On 26 January 2001 the SDS played again in Germany in Lahr for a firm celebrating an Anniversary. The 47th Jubilee-Concert of the band took place on 30 March in the Dixie Club Aegerten. On 27 May they appeared at the Feldbrunnen Castle followed by a concert in Biel during the "Braderie", the most important fest in Biel on 30 June and on 29 July the SDS played for the EHC Wicki in Gerzensee. On 1 August, the Swiss National Holiday, a open-air concert at the Biel Lake followed. The first ride of the "Mobicat", the biggest Katamaran on Swiss lakes was accompanied by the Swiss Dixie Stompers on 12 August. The traditional Riverboat Party on the Biel Lake took place on 17 August and on 19 August a concert in the Castle Park of Nidau followed. Over 600 enthusiastic listeners enjoyed it very much. The invitation to the Jazz Festival in Speyer/D was acceptet and the SDS played there in the evening of 25 August in the inner court of the City Hall. It was very hot, but the band played phantastic and at the end of the concert all musicians were soaking wet. Standing ovations were their reward. On 31 August the SDS participated in "Jazz en vacances" in Concise at the Lake of Neuchâtel. The next invitation to Germany for the SDS was to Bad Berleburg on 2 September. The write up in the local newspaper couldn't have been better. "It was a delight to listen to this band. It is existing since 1954 and since then André Racine, tp, is the leader. The concert showed how much it means to have such a long tradition and still to play fresh and interesting". Not bad. On 28 September the SDS appeared in the Hotel Krone in Aarberg, on 6 December in St. Aubin and on 7 December the traditional Santa Claus Concert took place in the Dixie Club in Aegerten.

     But the real highlight of the year 2001 was the concert together with the Biel Symphony Orchestra in the CTS Center on 30 November. "Classic meets New Orleans" was the motto. More than 700 listeners enjoyed "the meeting of two worlds, showing two contrasting musicial views and joint views" (Der Bund). "The marriage of two cultures. The Biel Symphony Orchestra and the Swiss Dixie Stompers". (Bieler Tagblatt).

     Now in 2002 it was time to record the music for a new CD. This happened on 16 and 17 February. The name of the CD "Woodcutter Blues", composed by André Racine. He wrote this tune in memory of Max Holzer (drummer of the Band Swing Melodians in Biel a long time ago), a long time friend of the SDS, who died in 1997. The Jubilee concert for the 48th anniversary of the SDS took place on 22 March again in the Dixie Club in Aegerten. Followed by the participation at the opening of the BEA-Exhibition in Bern on 26 April. Concerts on 28 April in St. Gallen, on 25 May at the opening of the sportsfield in Aegerten, on 17 June in Morges (Hotel La Longeraie) at the Geneva lake. On 29 June the SDS played again at the Bielfest "Bieler Braderie" at the Brunnenplatz and on 30 June at the Jazzclub Sunne in Hasle-Rüegsau. A roundtrip on the Thuner lake aboard the historic paddle steamer "Blüemlisalp" followed on 19 July. The traditional riverboat party on the Biel lake took place on 16 August and on 23 August the day started early at 08.15 h on the Golfcourt Wylihof in Luterbach and ended in the evening with a concert together with the American vocalist Bernita Bush. The Swiss Jazzmuseum "Swiss Jazzorama" in Uster was the place for a matinee on 3 November. Then after a two year intermission finally the International Old Time Jazz Meeting Biel/Bienne was celebrated from 8 to 10 November in the newly renovated Kongresshaus. Again with Bernita Bush on stage with the Swiss Dixie Stompers. A trip to Germany followed and the Band played at the 75 year celebration of the Hotel Stube in Oberharmersbach on 16 November. The traditional Chlauser Concert in the Dixie Club Aegerten followed on 6 December. The highlight of the year 2002 was a concert of Gospel and Spirituals together with Bernita Bush on the 21 December. This was arranged by the Jazz Club Lindenholz in the Madiswil Church. The participation was a lot more than expected and the atmosphere was phantastic.

     The year of 2003 started for the Swiss Dixie Stompers on 16 January in Zurich during the presentation of the Nobel-Price to Dr. Kurt Wüthrich at the ETH. The 49th Jubilee of the SDS was celebrated on 28 March in the Dixie Club Aegerten. On 12 April a concert in Bevilard followed. At the Dixie-Festival Albisgüetli in Zurich the SDS played bevor the appearance of the Chris Barber Band. This event on 9 May was sold out weeks befor. By the way, the next days concert with a another opening band was not. 28 June, the traditional Biel fest "Braderie", naturally again with the SDS. On 12 July the band played in Avenches for the Jazzclub Vully and on 19 July in the afternoon at the Jazztage Lenk. 900 listeners - a great concert. The Bern Newspaper wrote "The highlight from Swiss view: The Swiss Dixie Stompers with André Racine, who has been leading the Band since 49 years". Again the concert in the garden of the Nidau Castle on 17 August with great participation and the traditional Riverboat-Party at the Biel lake on 22 August. The Jazzclub Second Line in Chur invited the band on 12 September. According to Club Officials: This was the best concert in our Club. On 17 and 18 October two concerts with the Classic Big Band Bern in the Biel Rotonde. It was an interesting experiment, but unfortunately very few listeners. Prior to the International Old me Jazz Meeting from 7 to 9 November at the Biel Kongresshaus where the Swiss Dixie Stompers again had invited Bernita Bush, the band played in Hasle-Rüegsau for the Jazzclub Sunne on 24 October. The concert at the Wädi-Brauhaus in Wädenswil on 22 November was sold out in advance and resulted in the idea of the local Jazzclub to organize a trip to the International Old Time Jazz Meeting from 5 to 7 November 2004, when the 50th Jubilee of the Swiss Dixie Stompers will be celebrated. To close out the year of 2003 again the Chlauser Concert in the Dixie Club Aegerten on 5 December almost sold out. The two concerts with Gospel and Spirituals, the SDS with Bernita Bush on 11 December in La Sarraz and in Broc on 12 December as a result of the last years concert in Madiswil. And then a Pre Christmas Concert on 20 December in the Jazz Club Singe vert Lutry at the Geneva Lake. This was sold out weeks in advance.

     And now were coming to the year 2004: The year of the 50th Jubilee of the Swiss Dixie Stompers. Since the big celebration will be during the International Old Time Jazz Meeting in November, there was no concert in the Dixie Club in March. On 2 April they had a concert in the new Club in Biel: The Blue Note. It was great. The Hotel Ramada Biel Plaza was the place of a Dixieland Dinner on 1 May with a wonderful four course menue. By the way, this hotel is the home of the Radio 8 Jazzhouse on Tour since many years. All participants like it. Furthermore concerts were played in Oberwil/Büren on 8 May and in Lohn/Ammansegg on 20 June. On 21 July maybe one ot the highlights of 2004 was the concert in Château de Belfort/F. The band played in front of about 900 people and had standing ovations at the end. The traditional Riverboat-Party at the Biel Lake unfortunately did not have many participants on friday 13 August. (Bad date?) So the question comes up if it still will be possible next year. A much better crowd listened to the SDS during the Jazz-Estival in Le Landeron on 19 August. If the weather would have been better the Old City could have been a great area. Because of rain the band played in a hall. On 21 August at the 2nd Voralpines Dixieland Open Air Festival in Gurnigelbad three bands played. At the last SDS set the temperature was about 9° Centigrade at an altitude of 1100 meters. Chilly. But the Jam Session with musicians from all Bands was hot. At the 10th International Dixie and Jazz Festival in Sargans on 18 August the SDS featured Bernita Bush again. A total of 12 Bands played on 6 different Bandstands with good success. On 18 and 19 September the Swiss Dixie Stompers recorded a new CD. The CD was available at the 34th International Old Time Jazz Meeting and for the Jubilee. We'll come to that.

     On 25 October the Swiss Dixie Stompers could be heard at the Prodega-Fest in Biel. Prodega is a company which supplies for caterin trade. The traditional Chlauser Concert (a pre X-mas party) took place on 3 December in the Dixie Club Aegerten. A nice closeout for the year of 2004.

     Well, the CD "50 Years Jubilee" (NCD 2041) ist just great. Many new titles are to be heard, others had been played befor. All the arrangements were new and sounded fresh. While listening to this CD you can feel the joy the musicians had while recording. Super swinging Jazz. A big commendation for the booklet. Filled with many pictures and very informativ liner notes. Booklets like this should be seen more often. The 34th IOTJM took place in the Biel Kongresshaus from 5 thru 7 November 2004. Friday evening was dedicated to the Jubilee of the Swiss Dixie Stompers. André J. Racine had realized some very good ideas. Three great English soloists had been invited, John Crocker, cl/ts, Rod Mason, tp and Roy Williams, tb. Also the famous Dutch drummer, Huub Janssen. Naturally many former members of the SDS were present also. During the evening many different groups were on stage. This prooved that the "Old members" still are playing perfect and have a good understanding with the "Young members". The Citty of Biel honoured the Band and the Mayor Hans Stöckli presented a basket with 50 bottles of local Bielerlake wine. Radio 8 Jazzhouse on Tour brought a statue showing the official emblem of the Meeting. It was a phantastic evening and a great celebration leading to a big "THANK YOU" for André J. Racine and his 50 years as a bandleader.

     So, now you have red the Bandstory of the Swiss Dixie Stompers from 1954 until 2004. I think it is amazing that a band which started as a school band has lasted that long and has found so many fans not only in Switzerland, but all over Europe and also in the United States. André Racine deserves the biggest part of this success without any doubt. Without him, his knowledge of music, his enthusiasm and his activity who knows if there still would be a band called the Swiss Dixie Stompers. Naturally, without the great musicians which have played with the band during the past 50 years, would there still be a band called the Swiss Dixie Stompers? And not to forget the women of the musicians. They are playing a big role in the band also. Thank you girls. Thank you André Racine, Mr. SDS for beeing the bandleader since 1954 despite your other obligations in different jobs and thank you all previous and current members of the band. You are doing a wonderful job and all your fans are hoping for many, many more years of swinging Dixieland played the way it should be played, the way of the Swiss Dixie Stompers.

Walter L. Henne

P.S.: The "Swiss Dixie Stompers Story" will be continued.

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