Jacques Terborg, 88, skycap, jazz musician


In the words of jazz musicians of the 1930s and 1940s, Jacques Terborg could really "wing it."

Mr. Terborg could make his guitar wail and sing as his fingers sailed up the instrument's neck and easily complied with musical arrangements from slow, silky ballads to jumping, jitterbug dance numbers.

Mr. Terborg, 88, a Columbia resident who died Tuesday of lung failure at Howard County General Hospital, considered himself a connoisseur, of sorts, of the guitar and most other stringed instruments.

"He was so smooth, you could really tell he liked playing," said his daughter Rosalyn Terborg-Penn of Columbia.

"He was known for his smooth transitions."

Known as "Dutchie," Mr. Terborg played in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s with some of the heavyweight, big-name jazz bands of the time, groups such as the Tiny Bradshaw Band and the Henry Wells Band.

"He was always consistent with whoever he played with," said Henry Adams, a jazz historian. "His sound was dependable, and his skills unquestionable. He added something to every group he played with."

While performing and touring, he met performers who would later become famous, entertainers such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and the Mills Brothers.

"To be honest with you, I think Terborg could probably hold his own with any musician," Mr. Adams said.

"It was just a matter of some performers getting a bigger break than others. For the quality of music that Terborg played, he never got the break he had coming."

A native of Suriname in South America, Mr. Terborg settled in New York in 1928 and attended New York University.

An accomplished guitarist even before he came to the United States, Mr. Terborg played in several area groups before joining the Tiny Bradshaw Band -- which toured extensively on the East Coast and in the South and Midwest -- from 1937 to 1940.

The group played at the famed Savoy Ballroom and Apollo Theater in New York, the Sunset Room in Indianapolis and the Royal Theater on Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore.

Mr. Terborg married the former Jeanne Van Horn in 1940 and soon after gave up the uncertain financial status of performing, instead working as a skycap at a New York airport until the 1970s. He moved to Columbia in the mid-1980s.

"After getting married, he decided that touring was not his best option," his daughter said. "He made the sacrifice. He decided that he wanted a wife and family."

Donna Hollie, a longtime jazz fan, said Mr. Terborg's guitar work on the song "Soft" by the Tiny Bradshaw Band was very creative.

"It was a very charming song," Ms. Hollie said. "It was a nice little song to jitterbug to. I always liked the guitar work on that song."

Mr. Terborg was honored during a 1992 jazz festival in Baltimore.

"He had no idea we were going to honor him. He was very pleased," Ms. Hollie said.

Services were held yesterday in Columbia.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Jacques Arnold Terborg Jr. of York, S.C.; five grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

Pub Date: 7/20/97

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