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Friday, Feb 21 2014 | 12:16 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

Hans KollerFrom collectors’ archives: Rare 1958 recordings of “The Hans Koller New Jazz Stars” at the peak of their art, restored from radio tapes and original EPs. Lost work by one of Europe’s leading tenor saxophonists from the Golden Age of cool and modern jazz, featuring Albert Mangelsdorff (tb), Helmut Reinhardt (bars), Peter Trunk (b), Hans Hammerschmid (p), Rudi Sehring (dr) – with Zoot Sims (ts) guesting on two tunes (“Zoot Meets Hans”) plus Hans Koller playing in the Orchestra of Eddie Sauter. Half of the tracks previously unreleased, recorded at the German Jazz Festival (Althoff-Bau, Frankfurt Zoo), CD version/ digital album comes with two unheard bonus tracks. Carefully restored and mastered for 6-Page-Digipak-CD and limited Vinyl LP, including new sleeve notes and artist photos by Josef Werkmeister.

“Minor Meetings 1958” brings lost or completely unknown recordings by Hans Koller (1921-2003) from the year 1958 back to life. Hans Koller is one of Europe’s leading saxophonists of the last century. If one is talking in USA about German jazz musicians, the name of the native Austrian is always present. Already in 1953, the musician and painter from Vienna causes an international sensation, in his quartet or quintet and with an early formation of the “Hans Koller New Jazz Stars”. Legendary musicians like pianist Jutta Hipp or trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff belong to the group. They play a European form of Cool and Modern Jazz and the audience is impressed by their high level of playing. For the fans the “New Jazz Stars” become stars in German jazz heaven. In the same year recordings are made for the American Discovery label and the band goes on tour in Germany with the group of Dizzy Gillespie. In 1954/55 Hans Koller can be heard with Stan Kenton, Lee Konitz and Lars Gullin. Jutta Hipp is leaving the band to form her own group and to record in USA. At least with her recordings for the Blue Note label, for which she produces three albums in 1956, Jutta Hipp is earning the reputation of being “Europe’s First Lady in Jazz”.

Hans Koller is the first European jazz artist who receives a five-star review from the American jazz magazine DownBeat. He particularly excites the audience with his immediately recognizable melodies. In 1957/58 the “New Jazz Stars” are considered to be the most popular modern ensemble from Germany, mostly playing their own compositions and improvisations besides occasional jazz standards in a “European style”. Soundwise, the musicians are based on the work of the “Four Brothers” now and leave the cool jazz of Lee Konitz more and more behind. Inspired by the tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, Hans Koller abandons the cool Lennie Tristano-school and puts the technical brilliance of playing in the background in favor of extravagant melodies. Besides Koller and trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, who performs at the 1958 festival in Newport and starts his own recording career, composer, arranger and energetic pianist Hans Hammerschmid and highly talented bassist Peter Trunk are the pillars of the band. With his own Frankfurt group, Mangelsdorff is just changing his musical style from cool jazz to more advanced compositions and arrangements.

In the spring of 1958, the “New Jazz Stars” record “Hard Blues”, “I’ll Close My Eyes “and” Back In Paradise” in Baden-Baden. The tracks are released on the small German label Manhattan (EP “Hans Koller Cool Jazz”). On two titles, the central band members Mangelsdorff, Hammerschmid, Trunk and Sehring are supported by baritone sax player Helmut Reinhardt. Since 1953 he is a member of the orchestra of Kurt Edelhagen and records with Miles Davis in 1956. Zoot Sims and Hans Koller learn to know each other by working in the orchestra of Benny Goodman at the World Exhibition in Brussels. In August 1958 they record together in a Cologne studio. The resulting tracks “Blues Around Joe” and “Minor Meeting” are also released as a German vinyl EP by Brunswick (“Zoot Meets Hans”). They are compositions by pianist Hans Hammmerschmid that show the brilliant interplay between the American guest artist and Hans Koller, both on tenor saxophones (“Blues Around Joe”) and clarinets (“Minor Meeting”). Originally entitled “Minor Meeting For Two Clarinets” and meant as a reference to the passion of Lester Young for this instrument, such a modern jazz piece on the clarinet can be considered a true rarity.

All other tracks on this compilation are previously unknown and hail from the German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt. There Hans Koller does not only perform in a quintet with his “New Jazz Stars” but also thrills the audience as the leader of the saxophone section in the SWF Orchestra of New York composer, arranger and bandleader Eddie Sauter. “Hi-Fi”, “Saba” and “Lippi’s Tune” (dedicated to Horst Lippmann) come from collectors’ archives and show the “New Jazz Stars “(without Reinhardt) in top form. Koller can also be heard with the excellent orchestra led by Eddie Sauter on “Sperie’s Drums “and “A Girl To Remember”. In 1957/58 the saxophonist regularly appears as a soloist with Sauter while Hans Hammerschmid writes some of his finest compositions for the orchestra. Besides the excellent ensemble performances on 24th of May 1958, the great atmosphere in the audience of the sold out Franz Althoff-Bau in Frankfurt must be mentioned. The “New Jazz Stars” perform at the same venue the following night and more recordings are made. Three tracks of that second evening are released on the Brunswick label in an awful sound and pressing quality (EP “The new Hans Koller New Jazz Stars”).

According to the opinion of Hans Koller, his friend Eddie Sauter is the best bandleader along with Stan Kenton, but journalists and employees of the radio station in Baden-Baden sabotage the good work of the orchestra conductor. After only one year, Sauter terminates the contract and returns to the United States. Drummer Sperie Karras (“Sperie` s Drums “), who he has brought with him from America, remains in Germany and plays in the orchestra of Werner Müller, every now and then also in the group of Hans Koller. After leaving Sauter, Koller takes over the leadership of the “NDR Jazz Workshop” and, as early as in autumn 1958, founds a new quartet with Oscar Pettiford, Attila Zoller and Kenny Clarke. Immediately the group becomes one of the best European jazz combos. A little later, Hans Koller and Albert Mangelsdorff are frequently chosen as “Jazz Musicians of the Year”. In English-speaking countries, the expression “Jazz in Kollerland” is established as a synonym of the West German jazz scene. Leonard Feather about Hans Koller in the American jazz magazine Down Beat: “It will come as a shock to many jazz fans to learn that modern jazz of this caliber exists in Germany”. Even today, one cannot better express the merits of Hans Koller for the development of the German jazz scene. (Ekkehart Fleischhammer, Sonorama 2014)


01. Hard Blues
02. Hi-Fi
03. Blues Around Joe
04. Saba
05. Sperie’s Drums
06. Minor Meeting
07. Lippi’s Tune
08. I’ll Close My Eyes
09. Back In Paradise
10. A Girl To Remember
11. If I Had You * (CD Bonus Track)
12. I’ll Never Be The Same * (CD Bonus Track)

The album Hans KollerMinor Meetings 1958” (Sonorama) is going to be released February 21, 2014.

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