Online Workshop for Story of South African Jazz V2
As Duke Ellington used to say there are only two kinds of music – good music and bad music. Everyone has to decide what music is good and what is bad.
The history of jazz in Germany started right after jazz in the United States. The first jazz activities started after WW1, but the funny thing the term jazz arrived in Germany before the music arrived. Everyone wanted to play jazz but no-one new what jazz is. But they did play the music without knowing what it is. After WW1 many American musicians came to England and to France because of the solid currency in these countries. But in Germany, it was completely different. We had hyper-inflation and no-one could earn any money in Germany. So, it wasn't possible for American musicians to make their living in Germany and it was absolutely useless to send records to Germany. I would sell it for 1 million Mark and the next day 1 million Mark was a few pennies. It made no sense to make any music exports.
Musicians played the music how they thought they should play it. They got some stories from prisoners of war so they knew that there was something like syncopated music or improvised music. It must have been completely chaotic but there are no recordings left. It wasn't called jazz it was called eccentric. There were many eccentric bands and the first recordings of jazz in Germany were eccentric bands. They destroyed their instruments on stage and they shot their pistols and they had a lot of kitchen gear to make music. There are only a few newspaper articles left, but it was some kind of early free jazz. Hyper-inflation ended in 1923 and the first real jazz musicians arrived in Germany: Germans who learnt music in America and returned to Germany to play this music. One of those guys was a clarinet player Julian Voels. He went to America before the war and returned to Germany in 1924 and had the first successful jazz band. The situation in Berlin today is the same as the 20s where musicians from all over the place came except from America. It was still unattractive for American musicians to play in Germany but there were many musicians from Eastern Europe coming and one was a violin player EfimSchachmeister . He was a Jew from Odessa and he became a big star of German jazz. He was called King of the café of the violinists. He sold many records. He made the first classical jazz recording in the world in 1927. He played a classic infused version of the St Louis Blues. EfimSchachmeister was a famous womaniser and like many jazz musicians of this period he had to leave Germany in 1933 because he was a Jew. Julian Voels also had to leave and other jazz musicians as well because they were Jews.
In the US it was impossible that black and white musicians would play together in the 1920s and it was even more impossible that white musician would play in a band lead by a black musician but in Germany it happened. There was a black trombone player in Hannover by the name of Albert Wing and he had many white American jazz musicians. Germany was a good place for integration back then.
Jazz was not completely forbidden in the Nazi period. It was dangerous to play jazz and jazz musicians easily came under suspicion of being lefties or friendly with American culture, but there were also jazz musicians in Nazi Germany. Jazz concerts were not called jazz concerts but “TantsT” which means T for dance.They played until midday fashionable dance tunes and after midnight the jazz tunes.
When they realised that they are going to lose the war, they used some of these recordings to drop them on allied troops to show:‘we are like you – and let's fight against the Russians'. Of course it was stupid. But not the most stupid things Nazi's did.
After the war jazz was American music and it became popular in Germany but was mostly copying American idols. German jazz was American jazz played by German musicians and lasted a while. One of the first famous German jazz musicians was actually a woman, JuttaHipp, piano player. She came from Liepzig. German consisted of two states, the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. She came from Liepzig and moved West and became famous in Frankfurt and an American music writer discovered her and invited her to live in New York to make some recordings for Blue Note. Leanord Feather was his name. JuttaHipp became an interesting part of the New York jazz scene making a record with Zoot Sims.
The jazz capital of Germany in the 50s and 60s was Frankfurt, and Frankfurt had a very strong scene playing American cool jazz but at least there were some characters. One was "Coco" Schumann who also played with JuttaHipp and had musicians like saxophone player Emil Mangelsdorf and trombone player AlbertMangesldorfin the band. One of the famous musicians was the clarinet player Rolf Kühn who is still alive and still very active. He had another exponent of the later German jazz scene in his band - Klaus Doldinger. It was a step further, a combination of American jazz German schlager mentality and a little bit of soundtrack composing, and it was popular back then.
We still can't talk about a genuine German jazz language back in the 50s. But that was not the reason to play this music. They didn't want to establish their music they wanted to discover the music. After the Nazi period they wanted to get behind what American jazz is. Some of the exponents of the scene in Frankfurt started to find their own language.
Albert Mangesldorf was one of the first musicians who said I am unsatisfied with the situation of German jazz. We have to find our own language. We can't copy for our entire life. We have to do something new. He was sent to East Asia by the Goethe Institute. He got infused with Eastern Asian music and tried to translate that into jazz to find something like a global jazz language. It is not so much to find a German idiom, we Germans are responsible to find a global language after all those things we did in the 30s and 40s. His record ‘Now Jazz Ramwong' was really a turning point in German jazz. It was the first example of something completely independent from American jazz. He incorporated Asian scales into his opinion about jazz. It started to become something independent. That was 1963. Mangelsdorf worked on his tone and perfected it and became a remarkable trombone player and one of the most famous in the world and one of the main figures of German jazz. He encouraged many musicians to find their own language.
In the mid-60syou see musicians in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt and other cities like Wuppertal, playing their own music. The music became more and more free. The saxophone player Peter Brötzmann was a sculptor and played a music called Kaputspiel jazz. They wanted to destroy the post war society with music. It was the generation of '68 and that all started in the late 60s and went along with the students' movement. It was kind of brutal, for example their version of the Einheit … that was musical civil war, total opposition to the society. The trumpet player Manfred Schoof was also part of this circle and did interesting things. The name of the drummer was JakiLiebezeit , the most famous jazz drummer back then. After playing with the Manfred Schoof Quintet he stopped playing jazz completely because he said I can't be fre-er then free. I played free jazz and liberated myself completely, but what now? So he started another band with students of Stockhausen called Can which became one of the most influential German rock bands. With rock music they wanted to liberate themselves from the English American dominated market and try to play rock music without rock n' roll and blues, and influenced many musicians all over the place. A British radio DJ John Peel called the music Kraut-rock. It became influential in Germany because what followed was a certain kind of Kraut-jazz.
Klaus Doldinger founded Passport in 1970 and they tried to translate the experience of Kraut-rock into jazz with synthesizers. The drummer in the band became the most famous German rock singer UdoLindenberg and sold zillions of records and was the first one daring to sing in the German language because the German language was the language of Shlager back then and no serious rock musician would dare to sing in German. UdoLindenberg established a very special language and some of his quotes are part of German language treasure.
Other musicians playing this Kraut-jazz one of which was Wolfgang Dauner , piano player and he played a lot of synthesizer. It is very experimental and not free-jazz but way more infused by the Kraut-rock virus. They were very successful back in the day and ahead of their time.
There was also an East German jazz scene in the 50s and 60s.Jazz was not very well received in East Germany, but it changed in the early 70s when the state realised that jazz especially free jazz was a good opportunity to show Western European intellectuals how free communism is. They used the creative East German jazz scene for this political purpose. And they had other ingredients in East German jazz such as labour songs, Baroch music marches, folk music … There was the Workshop Band with Günter Sommer on drums…
Cultural officials of East Germany and the German democratic republic actually succeeded. The Dutch saxophone player Willem Breukercalled GDR the holy land of free improvisation, which sounds absurd to me. Somehow it worked out. Some of the musicians in East Germany took an ironical view. For example we had the central committee of the communist party in East Germany and they called some of those musicians.Some of the exponents, piano player Ulrich Gumpert , saxophone player Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, drummer Günter Sommer and trombone player Conrad Bauer called their quarter Centralle Quartet which was quite a joke.
Germany had two ways to get international attention it was gold medals at the Olympic Games and free jazz. It all ended in October 1989 and we had a different kind of jazz scene. It was not easy for the two jazz scenes to come together. When the wall was there everyone was keen to play with each other but after the wall came down, there was a lot of competition between East and West German musicians. But, those fights are over and it doesn't matter at all.
In Berlin we have so many different musicians and I want to give you a short introduction to musicians of the younger generation. There is the piano player Michael Wollny . He has interesting projects with his trio Wunderkamer and other constellations. He came from Frankfurt to Berlin and is now in Liepzig.
There is always the question how can we involve our German cultural heritage into this global jazz music? The drummer Eric Schaefer has found a good solution doing a record of Wagner tunes.
We have a big problem in Germany, we have more and more young jazz musicians but less and less audience to listen to them. Part of the problem is that many of the jazz musicians pay jazz for the sake of jazz. One example is: we have a huge refugee thing in Germany and it was so difficult to put up a festival of jazz musicians for refugee aid. The rock musicians did something, the classical musicians did something and the philharmonic and the techno musicians did something and the jazz musicians played a benefit concert for a jazz venue. A jazz musician just made a record about all those issues, Niles Wogram a trombone player with his band Route 70 made a record titled luxury habits.
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