My first name – Jeroen – is pronounced as ‘ye-roon’, which is Dutch for Jerome. I was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1958. On my first birthday, my dad moved to Amsterdam because of his work, and I decided to follow him. For a couple of years, I studied English language and literature at the University of Amsterdam and then double bass at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague with John Clayton, until various causes (having become a father, for one thing) forced me to leave school.
I am active in journalism since 1979; from 1979 until 2000 I wrote about music as a freelance journalist for the newspaper Het Parool, after which I became a staff writer at the Algemeen Dagblad, a daily newspaper. Since May 2014, I’m on my own again, leading my own firm Jeroen de Valk Tekst & Muziek. (Which means, of course, ‘Jeroen de Valk Text & Music’.)
In 1989 and 1992 respectively, I published the first biographies of jazzmen Chet Baker and Ben Webster at Uitgeverij Van Gennep, Amsterdam. The book about Chet was published as well in German (Oreos Verlag), English (Berkeley Hills Books), Japanese (Gendai Tosho) and Hungarian (Silenos). In 2001, Berkeley Hills Books published Webster’s biography as well. As Berkeley Hills Books does no longer exist, the English rights of my books are available again.
In October 2007, I published (in Dutch) an expanded and drastically updated Chet-bio. It includes all the relevant information that has reached me since the first edition was published, as well as new interviews with dozens of individuals who knew the great trumpeter. An English edition of this ‘magnum opus’ would be a dream come true.
I’m living in Amersfoort (near Utrecht), where I’m endlessly expanding my collection of Chet’s recordings. Other hobbies are: admiring the mediaeval centre of Amersfoort, watching Woody Allen movies, writing poetry and making lots of music on my Chinese double bass. I hate glib music, incomprehensible manuals and most of all: opinions about Chet and jazz in general, based on the wrong sources.
I am the proud father of the freelance journalists Arnold de Valk (go to LinkedIn) and Eva de Valk (www.evadevalk.com).