Herbie White
Herbie White
IDFA 1990

Herbie White

Wouter Snip
65 min
Festival history
Herman de Wit, a jazz-musician with unbridled energy, stimulates a lot of people to discover their musical identity. He thinks that everyone has an aptitude for music. It is just a matter of touching the right spot.
De Wit leads a number of workshops where people can take their first steps on the path of music. The first stage: playing in 'The Oktopedians', a teaching- and practice-orchestra for beginners. In an always changing make-up, this orchestra consists of an average of fifty musicians of totally different ages and backgrounds. Possibly, the advanced musicians play in 'De Boventoon', a semi-professional bigband that gives concerts every two months.
Giving it all he has got, with a full measyre of humour and a considerable record, Herman de Wit leads the newcomers through Jazz-land. He sees jazz as 'music of resistance': jazz expresses the personal and musical interpretation of a feeling. The 'terror of the notes' is countered by this free form of music. Fifty-eight year old De Wit teaches beginning musicians to develop their talents. He takes away their fear to play out of tune: having pleasure in producing sounds is more important. Making and recognizing certain sounds often gives great satisfaction to people playing saxophone for the first time. After this start and a lot of practice, De Wit deals with playing techniques, musical theory, and sense of rhythm with great ease. Unconstrained and at a great pace, he imparts an intense joy in commanding the instrument to the newcomers.
Wouter Snip, the director of this semi-documentary, took part in the workshop 'The Oktopedians' in 1985. He was impressed by his progress in such a short period of time, and wanted to make a film about De Wit's charismatic personality trying to take the best out of everyone. Furthermore, he wanted to change the condescending opinion professional musicians had about De Wit's activities: he was accused of practicing amateurism pushed too far and of keeping the kids off the street in a kind of social workshop. With this lively film, Snip proves that De Wit strikes an enormous musical richness in his students. The documentary has not become a tiresome document about a musical leader. It is a well-balanced portrait of a sympathetic, humouristic, but especially skilled musician.
    Kleine Beer Filmproduktie
    Kleine Beer Filmproduktie