Gerry Teekens, Founder of Criss Cross Jazz Label, Dies at 83

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Criss Cross’ Gerry Teekens (left) gives Reservoir Records’ Mark Feldman a hug.

(Photo: Kayla Feldman)

Gerry Teekens, who in 1981 founded the Dutch label Criss Cross Jazz, died Oct. 31, according to an email sent to DownBeat.

His death was confirmed by Teekens’ son, Jerry Teekens Jr.

“With ... over 400 titles in the Criss Cross catalog, he was truly compassionate about the music,” Reservoir Records’ Mark Feldman wrote in an email to DownBeat. “Even though his musical tastes changed over the recent years to record some of the more ‘outside’ musicians, [Teekens] still held deep respect for the earlier musicians that he recorded, such as Warne Marsh ... Bill Charlap, Gary Smulyan, Joe Magnarelli, Mike LeDonne, Dave Hazeltine, and many others.”

Feldman said the two had been friends since 1982 and that they’d spend time together whenever Teekens—who was born in The Hague, The Netherlands—traveled to the States to oversee recordings.

“In the early days, he would do eight sessions over a 10–14 day period, and later, it would be down to four,” Feldman wrote.

As news of Teekens’ death spread, members of the jazz industry took to social media to remember the label head.

“Rest in Peace Gerry Teekens,” Dawn Warren Evans wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you for giving my 22-year-old husband a shot. I cannot lie and say that I did not spend a LOT of years trying to get a ‘major label’ to sign Orrin [Evans]—but I can never deny that Criss Cross was a wonderful vehicle for documenting some pretty amazing music with some phenomenal musicians over the years.”

Pianist Ethan Iverson was both emphatic and succinct on Twitter: “RIP!!!! And god bless.”

This year, Criss Cross Jazz has issued several albums, including releases by bassist and SFJAZZ Collective member Matt Brewer, Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund and New York-based saxophonist Noah Preminger.

“I myself and my two daughters will try to keep my father’s musical legacy alive,” Jerry Teekens Jr. wrote in an email. “I know that there’s a release in the works, but first we will have to focus on how to deal with the actual loss.”

Gerry Teekens is survived by his wife, son and two grandchildren. DB




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