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Monday, Apr 26 2010 | 11:51 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

The compilation “Now’s The Time – Deep German Jazz Grooves 1956 – 1965” is available as Digipak-CD including a 12-page booklet + limited edition vinyl LP with paper insert. Including rare and exciting modern jazz music by legendary German musicians such as Albert and Emil Mangelsdorff, Rolf Kuehn, Inge Brandenburg, Michael Naura, Joki Freund, Horst Jankowski and many others. Ten previously unknown tracks from rare vinyl records or archives, that reflect “the state of the art” of jazz in Germany between 1956 and 1965. Rediscovery of lost recordings from the early days of the German jazz scene, compiled by Ekkehart Fleischhammer and Stephan Steigleder, newly mastered and with extensive liner notes from eye-witness Siegfried Schmidt-Joos, plus many unpublished photographs from the Jazz Archive Eisenach / L + R Music Archive.

Liner Notes by Siegfried-Schmidt-Joos (February 2010):

There was a time when jazz in Germany was as popular as today’s sophisticated pop music. Not like the superstars: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and others like them would not have sold out sports stadiums and huge halls like U2 or the Rolling Stones. However when bands like the Helmut Brandt Combo or the Michael Naura Quintet toured in the Fifties and Sixties of the last century with their music for the head and heart, they did not attract less German public than contemporary bands like Einstürzende Neubauten or Element Of Crime. I know what I am talking about because I was there.

Naura and Brandt, both of Berlin, were among the bands that I accompanied on behalf of the domestic unit of the German Jazz Federation (DJF) as a tour manager. We traveled the entire German-speaking countries in a VW bus for fifteen marks expenses per day (which also had to cover the cost for the hotel room), five musicians, the driver and myself. When touring with Naura, Wolfgang Schlüter and me sat in front beside the driver, a bottle of Chantré between us, three musicians on the second bank, in addition another one further back beside the vibraphone, the drums and the luggage, with the bass on the roof.

The longest trip that we made so cramped, between two concerts on two consecutive days, went from Kiel on the Baltic Sea to Spittal an der Drau in Austria beyond the Tauern tunnel, about two thousand miles. But the musicians were accustomed to hardship. When not on tour, they played in night bars like the infamous “Tabu” holdings of Romy Schneider’s stepfather, Hans-Herbert Blatzheim, also called mines. Night after night, often until morning, at least as long as an expense knight still ordered champagne.

Jazz was a tough business. But with the performances, often in universities in front of a young intellectual audience, it unleashed pure enthusiasm. I moderated the concerts, settled up with the organizers for the fee and in case of Naura always insisted that at least a blues was played (which is why I was called the “blues queen” within the band). “Mike’s Blues” on the CD shows how great they were in it. Of all the German bands of the time, the Michael Naura Quintet came closest to the sturdy black hard bop, as the song “Minority” written by U.S. saxophonist Gigi Gryce proves. It makes sense that this quintet is represented here with two titles.

Further more otherwise one of the remarkable features of the “Deep German Jazz Grooves” is its security in documentation. As good as any jazz soloist, who played a significant role in Germany during the decade from 1956 to 1965, can be heard. The outstanding and completely unique Helmut Brandt Combo does not perform any of its harmonically advanced cool arrangements, but is presented here as an accompanying ensemble. Therefore the compilation includes the big tune by the most important but tragic jazz voice that Germany ever produced, “Lover Man” by Inge Brandenburg.

The start of this CD/ LP with the track “Domicile” by the Joki Freund & Albert Mangelsdorff Sextet, recorded at the German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt, is entirely programmatic. Frankfurt with its festival was the Mecca of the swinging muse in the Federal Republic of Germany for decades, with different venues between Althoffbau at the Zoo, the large broadcasting studio of the Hessischer Rundfunk and the Domicile du Jazz at the Kleine Bockenheimer Strasse.

While the session began about ten p.m. in the vaults of the jazz cellar, Willi Geipel poured the so called basic multi-blend of juniper, plus Cola or Sinalco, from behind the bar. On the steep stairs to the street a guy called Franz collected a few pennies from celebrities and other guests, sometimes even Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. And if Albert Mangelsdorff took his trombone, he was often here before in the afternoon, because the Domicile was used by the Frankfurt jazzmen as a basement for rehearsals.

The brass triumvirate of Joki Freund and the Mangelsdorff brothers on “Domicile” embodied the human core of the Frankfurt scene for decades. Therefore it characterizes four whole tracks here. As early as 1941 Emil Mangelsdorff (as, fl, cl) belonged to the founders of the Hot Club Frankfurt that was illegal during the Nazi era. In 2010 he is still active with his impeccable tone and his seemingly inexhaustible flood of ideas. For “Ease It” his brother Albert (tb, g) extended the ensemble of rhythm section Günter Lenz (b), Ralph Hübner (dr) with the equally long-time colleagues Heinz Sauer (ts) and Günter Kronberg (bs). Albert Mangelsdorff was regarded as an epochal innovator in playing the trombone and worldwide as the German jazz soloist par excellence.

The counterpart of his highly cultivated instrumental monoculture was the stylistically versatile composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Joki Freund from Frankfurt, author of two tracks on the CD / LP. The many-voiced “Vier Temperamente”, of which the first movement is played here, was reminiscent of a Renaissance Music Suite, which premiered at the festival in the Hessischer Rundfunk and was originally released on a Brunswick EP. “Madame B” was written by Joki Freund for the German poll winners of their respective instruments.

This piece, as well as the brilliant “Meeting At The Barberina” by an informal Horst Jankowski & Rolf Kühn Quintet, come from a Columbia LP of the German All Stars, that was produced in Baden-Baden under the auspices of the untiring jazz propagandist, producer, critic, and author Joachim Ernst Berendt. It was Berendt who negotiated the contract of the genius-like guitarist Attila Zoller from Hungary for the score of the film “Das Brot der frühen Jahre” (The Bread of the Early Years) by Heinrich Böll, for which both received a Federal Film Award. “Night Bounce” is the corresponding piece of evidence.

The recordings from Baden Baden and “Ain’t Misbehavin'” from Munich counter the impression, that the Jazz has flourished half a century ago in Frankfurt and Berlin only. Drummer Freddie Brocksieper, who intoned the Fats Waller evergreen, swung with his men in Berlin first, then in Munich and at least played as long as Emil Mangelsdorff at the river Main. In “Ain’t Misbehavin'” he served the chocolate-brown jazz entertainer Cecily Forde, back then a jewel of international festivals across Europe.

In fact Ekkehart Fleischhammer and Stephan Steigleder succeeded with “Now’s The Time” as a representative compilation that reflects “the state of the art” of jazz in West Germany (with the exception of the large orchestra) from 1956 to 1965. Only the “Ambassador of German Jazz”, tenor saxophonist Klaus Doldinger, who became so successful shortly afterwards, might be missed. But at the time where the CD ends, Doldingers impressive career just began in earnest. Still, three prominent players in his later combo – Ingfried Hoffman (org), Peter Trunk (b), Joe Nay (dr) – already cared for the beat of the Deutsche All Stars.


01. Joki Freund & Albert Mangelsdorff Sextet – Domicile
02. Michael Naura Quintett – Minority
03. Inge Brandenburg & Helmut Brandt Combo – Lover Man Oh Where Can You Be
04. Horst Jankowski & Rolf Kühn Quintett – Meeting At The Barberina
05. Frankfurt Allstars – Vier Temperamente 1. Satz
06. Attila Zoller Combo – Night Bounce
07. Albert Mangelsdorff & Jazz Ensemble – Ease It
08. Cecily Forde & Freddie Brocksieper Combo – Ain’t Misbehavin
09. Michael Naura Quintett – Mike’s Blues
10. Die Deutschen All Stars – Madame B

The compilation VariousNow’s The Time” (Sonorama) has been released April 23, 2010.

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