Born on 05-19-19, Toronto, Canada. Real name John Altweger. First generation German / Canadian. While in his pre-teens, the Altwegers moved to Brooklyn where they enrolled John at the local High School. While there he showed an unusual affinity for music. His talent was such, that he received a full scholarship to further his musical studies. This he did, concentrating on alto- and tenor saxophone. Eventually he settled on the tenor saxophone, being inspired by the great blacksaxophonist Coleman “Bean” Hawkins a man who inspired several generations of musicians to take up that particular instrument. It was around that time, that he adopted the stage name of “Georgie Auld”, a name he used henceforth exclusively. His talents matured quickly and he soon got the reputation not only as a section player, but also as a fine soloist. Because of his exceptional abilities, he became a stalwart with well established Jazz players, such as trumpeter par excellence Bunny Berigan (he of “I can’t Get Started” fame) as well as with Artie Shaw, the magnificent clarinetist. His reputation became firmly established and the great Benny Goodman, invited him to participate in the B.G. Sextet recording sessions which ended up being the possibly finest recordings Benny Goodman ever made. Auld was not a man to sit still. He listened to and learned from the modernists who had sprung up on 52nd. Street, becoming a regular in such clubs as “Birdland” or “The Onyx Club”. His flexible attitude relative to the, at that time much maligned “Be-Bop” movement, caused him to become on of the most facile instrumentalists of his time much sought after by Jazz groups of every kind.
As a “modernist” with his roots in the swing era, he formed a marvelous group with the exceptionally fine drummer Tiny Kahn and one of the most outstanding trombone players in Jazz history, Frank Rosolino. With this group he played in every important club in New York, frequently headlining. In the early fifties the “in” place to be was the West Coast, a place where an entirely new style was coming to the fore, namely West Coast Jazz. This style was to Be-Bop, what Chicago style had been to Dixieland. He moved to Hollywood, where he founded a big band using arrangements influenced by Jimmy Lunceford. This was a bad time to start a big band, due to the disappearance of clubs and other venues.The result was that he had to disband shortly thereafter, not being able to make payroll. He returned to New York and free-lanced there with a variety of groups until his retirement. It is safe to say that John Altweger, a.k.a. Georgie Auld was one of the most important saxophonists in Jazz history.
Leon Bix Beiderbecke.
Born in Davenport Iowa on 03-10-03, died in New York, NY on 08-07-31 of the effects of alcoholism and pneumonia. Neither he, nor his family ever used his first name, but rather his middle name “Bix”, under which he has gone down in Jazz history. It has been claimed that his middle name had actually been “Bismarck”, but that is a misconception. That name had been his father’s and grand father’s, the family being conscious of their German heritage and very proud of it too.He was second generation American born into a family deeply steeped in the German cultural traditions. His home was a solidly middle class German-American. As was customary a parlor piano around which the family used to gather to listen to his mother’s playing or to sing the popular tunes of the times graced the living room. Unlike the typically German-American of the time, rather staid and conservative, Bix was a born rebel who didn’t really fit into the traditional mold. Piano lessons came to naught shortly after they had begun and that was it when it came to his musical education.Formal lessons simply didn’t suit his character. While in High school. He fell in love with the “new” music, Jazz. He took every chance he could to listen to the black bands traversing the country, standing outsides the taverns where they played to catch a glimpse of the musicians. Since most bands of those days featured a trumpeter or cornet player as the “star”, he decided to learn that instrument. It is not known, whether he ever had any formal lessons or instructions on the trumpet, but even if he did it was rudimentary at best. It has been claimed and this is no doubt correct, that Bix was strictly self-taught, not only on the trumpet, the Bb-cornet and the piano but also in theory. Since he was incapable of reading music it is a safe bet, that knowledge of theory was a matter of intuition, for it is otherwise inconceivable how an “illiterate” musician could later compose music which appeared to be Debussy influenced.
He would sit down on the piano, play something and a pianist with formal training would than write down what Bix had “written”. Bix’s most famous inspiration “In A Mist” was written thusly. Since Debussy was a revolutionary composer at that time in far away France and since communications between the continents was everything but instant it is almost a certainty, that Beiderbecke never heard of him or his music. Despite this, “In A Mist” sounds suspiciously as if Debussy himself had had a hand in it. Bix never received the accolades in his life time which were his due, even though he was profoundly appreciated by other musicians, white and black alike. His musical conception was unlike any other at the time. He played with a flat tone, lacking vibrato, contrary to the “fat”, brassy sound that every other trumpeter had. Bix sounded like a precursor of things to come. He was the only trumpeter in the 1920’s uninfluenced by Louis Armstrong. He was strictly his own man, in all areas. He was undoubtedly 20 or 30 years ahead of his time.His ear was such, that he merely had to listen to a band play in order to join in, doing a solo, usually so fine and thought out, that it floored the other musicians. He had the genius of the French modernists without the theoretical ability to harness his immense talent. His sense of harmony was utterly stupendous, his timing flawless and his taste impeccable. Bix Beiderbecke was one of only two white players to be studied by black musicians of the time. The other was Frankie Trumbauer, whose solos were assiduously studied by the great Lester “Prez” Young. Bix’s solos were the subject of intense study by the Duke Ellington great Rex Stewart, even though Rex never was able to get the same sound. What Rex did however, was to absorb Bix’s melodic conception. Despite this, Rex Stewart was one of the more outspoken black racists of his time, being almost virulent in his racist remarks in which he disparaged white players and claimed that only black players had ever contributed anything to Jazz music. The same tired old nigger song——–
The degree to which he was respected by all can be seen in the fact that the great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong was an unabashed admirer. Beiderbecke’s most memorable recordings are the ones he made in the middle 20’s in a recording studio in Richmond Indiana with his own groups, the Broadway Bellhops and the Frankie Trumbauer aggregation. He also formed an interesting group called “The Three Piece Orchestra”, consisting of Frankie Trumbauer c-melody saxophone, Eddie Lang (stage name of Salvatore Massaro) the premier guitarist of his day and Bix on cornet and piano. One can say, this was the first “chamber” music group, a la Jazz, thereby pre dating the great Chico Hamilton Quintet by a good 35 years. Exceedingly fine and elegant, the music these three outstanding musicians made was an artistic achievement nonpareil. Unfortunately the music was far too sophisticated to attract an audience and the group had to be disbanded after a short time. The amount of recorded material left by this memorable Trio amounts to little more than 5 minutes, alas 5 minutes of musical deliciousness.
The famed leader Paul Whiteman, incorrectly referred to as “The King Of Jazz” by Hollywood types heard Bix play and hired him at once solely for playing an occasional solo. Whiteman’s band, even though strictly commercial in nature, was known to feature the very best musicians the USA had to offer. He paid top salaries for soloists, writers and section players. To work for him, was “heaven” for a musician who wanted to make a truly fine living. Whiteman’s greatest accomplishments are to instruct Ferd Grofe (of “Grand Canyon Suite” fame) to orchestrate America’s best known, and possibly finest home-grown composition “The Rhapsody In Blue” by Gershwin and to offer well paid, respectful working conditions for musicians who weren’t always treated with proper respect in the entertainment industry. Whiteman also exerted great influence on European bands, such as the outstanding German orchestra by Bernhard Ette. These were Whiteman’s true accomplishments.While with Whiteman in New York, Bix took ill in his hotel room. He had lived a life marred by alcoholic excesses and it appears he passed out and succumbed to the pneumonia he had contracted. His untimely death was a loss felt by all who knew him. Paul Whiteman, gentleman always, paid for the transportation of Bix’s body back to Davenport and footed the funeral expenses. There is a Beiderbecke Festival held every year in Davenport, honoring Bix and his music. This festival is attended by thousands who come from all over the world to honor Bix, to enjoy the company of like-minded people and to bask in the glory of Bix’s cornet sound. This is the only purely white Jazz festival on earth, unmarred by multi-cultural excesses, crime, drugs, ebonics or other urban joys.
Joachim Ernst Berendt.
Born 07-20-22 in Berlin, died in 1997 in Baden Baden. Arguably the most knowledgeable Jazz critic besides the late Leonard Feather, Berendt received an outstanding education in the humanities. He majored in music history falling in love with Jazz music at an early age. A true scholar of the genre, he wrote numerous books on the subject, based on meticulous research. Berendt never fell into the trap of overtly “liking” one player more than another, or of ascribing unusual talents or abilities to musicians simply because they happened to be black. This is a very bad habit indulged in by many jazz critics, particularly many from England, Scandinavia and Switzerland. Berendt was also tirelessly engaged in promoting Jazz music throughout Europe, MC’ing concerts, discussion groups et al. He is responsible for Jazz music being included in the curricula of many German universities and conservatories. He was very active in creating Jazz programming for German TV and thereby showcasing young talent which might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Tex (Gordon) Beneke
Born 12-02-14 in Fort Worth, Tx. Born into a family of German ethnicity, Beneke showed an early affinity for music. He studied the clarinet in school, but since a soprano saxophone happened to be more readily available, he switched to that instrument. After High School, he played with various road bands during the early thirties in Texas and Oklahoma, doubling frequently on alto sax.While playing with the band of Ben Young, he was called upon to play the tenor sax and stuck to it from that moment on. While with Young, he also doubled as vocalist, whenever the band needed a singer. He had a pleasant tenor voice particularly attractive for singing ballads. When Glenn Miller organized his historic 1938 orchestra, he tabbed Tex to fill the tenor sax chair. While with Miller, Beneke’s leadership abilities made him the obvious choice of leader during rehearsals. One can say he was the first concert master of a Jazz orchestra. He participated in some of Glenn Miller’s most famous recordings, being the leading saxophone soloist of the Miller ensemble. When Miller disbanded to join the army in 1942, he did not join the Miller band in the Army but played for a Navy band instead.
After WW2, he took over the Glenn Miller orchestra continuing the tradition as it were. Eventually, the name Glenn Miller was dropped, and the band which had undergone tremendous changes in personnel was renamed the Tex Beneke Orchestra. Beneke lead this orchestra for many years, playing practically nothing but Miller arrangements and becoming a mainstay on the ball room circuit. Even though the Glenn Miller personality was lacking, musically the orchestra performed to a high standard.
He dispensed mostly with playing solos and left that to younger members of the band leading the band successfully until his retirement. When the Glenn Miller Story was filmed, for unfathomable reasons, Tex Beneke’s contributions to the orchestra, his having been the star soloist, leading the band during rehearsals and being a vocalist when called upon, were totally ignored. His name wasn’t even mentioned. This was akin to making a movie about the Berlin Philharmonic and ignoring Herbert von Karajan, an obvious absurdity. This did not deter him from being loyal to the end, a truly Germanic characteristic. Glenn Miller remained his idol until his dying day.
Born 01-07-31 in Berlin. Comes from a musically very astute family that belonged to the church and enrolled little Helmut in the choir, where he learned to sight-read music. When ten years old, his parents decided to give him violin lessons, as well lessons on the mandolin, not exactly a popular instrument in Germany. He started picking up the intricacies of the saxophone on his own and was the opening act in one of the very first Jazz clubs in Berlin in 1947, called “Die Badewanne” (The bath tub). He was all of 16 years old at the time.His musical talent drove him to study at the Berlin Conservatory, a venerable institution, having had as its pupils some of the finest classical musicians of the 20th.century such as Claudio Arrau, the great Chilean pianist and Beethoven- interpreter. Brand’s desire was to become a great Jazz player and he succeeded, becoming one of Germany’s premier baritone players and arrangers. His stylistic influence initially was the Count Basie tenor saxophonist Hershel Evans, but that would change with time. He ended up leaning toward the “cool” sounds of Gerry Mulligan, his baritone-sax idol and Lee Konitz, the alto player par excellence from New York. His first job as a professional musician was with Berlin dance band leader Lubo D’Orio and a year later with Kurt Widman, another popular dance band leader of that era. Widman had been a prominent Jazzman in Hitler Germany and had survived the Goetterdaemmerung. Don’t try to find any info on him, it’s none-extant. In 1955 Brandt formed his own group, inspired by the Miles Davis band of Capitol Recordings fame.
This band was actually made up of members of the Claude Thornhill orchestra, all arrangements were written by Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz and Gil Evans. So why it is being credited to Miles Davis is somewhat mysterious, particularly since Davis was known to be a virulent black racist who once stated he would like to strangle ‘ a white man’, slowly! That such a creature would select a bunch of lily-white musicians and arrangers to form ‘his’ band is less than likely, all the rubbish being written about it in todays encyclopaedias nothwithstanding.
To return to the subject at hand:
He experimented with different instrumentation and ended up having one of Europe’s most polished modern ensembles. He participated in every European Jazz festival, achieving particular success at the Lyon Jazz Festival in France, 1959. Helmut Brand has been active in Germany ever since, working for radio and TV as a soloist, writer, arranger and leader. He arranged a number of tracks for Chet Baker’s last concert and has been active writing arrangements for the new German trumpet star, Till Broenner. He is one of “the old men” of German Jazz still active and is far from retiring.
Born on 11/20/25 in Springfield Ill into a middle class family of German origin. Real name Shirley Luster. When first starting as a pop singer in local clubs, she went by the name of Sharon Leslie, working in the Chicago area with Society bands throughout the war years. In 1945 she joined the Stan Kenton band, making an immediate splash on the Jazz scene with a hit “Tampico” which established her firmly as a big band singer. Despite her society-band background, she fit in with the progressive sounds of the Kenton band at once, quite amazing considering the vast differences between the two types of music. While with Kenton, she married saxophonist par excellence Bob Cooper and recorded numerous discs with Kenton, Pete Rugolo and under her own name. Memorable recordings include “Something Cool”, “’round Midnight”, “Everything happens to me”, arranged by the hyper modern writer Bob Graettinger and a fine selection of duets with Stan Kenton. June Christy was unquestionably one of the most individualistic singers of the Jazz scene during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, comparable to the great Anita O’Day. Her numerous recordings are testimony to her great talent and are a necessary addition to any Jazz fan’s library.
Born 11-25-24 in San Francisco into a family of German church organists. His real name was Breitenfeld. That music would become his calling was a foregone conclusion. He studied reed instruments, concentrating on the alto saxophone. He was also taking piano lessons as a youngster. He pursued piano playing later on in life, while taking advanced harmony lessons from Professor Frederic Roger Saatman. According to Saatman, Desmond was a fine pianist with a light touch and a fine sense of harmonics. Since he was a member of the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet for almost 25 years, he didn’t have the chance to stretch out on the piano.
Desmond studied music at the Polytechnical High School and San Francisco City College, as well as advanced studies with Saatman, the teacher who taught an entire generation of San Franciscans what Jazz music was all about. Before joining the various Brubeck groups, he worked as a free lancer and for Alvino Rey, another Frederic Saatman alumni. Desmond became an important member of the Dave Brubeck Octet, an experimental group, commercially unsuccessful, but musically an American milestone. It was about that time, around 1948, that someone mentioned to him that “Breitenfeld” wasn’t going to fly as a Jazz musician. It sounded entirely too German for the times. He picked the name Desmond out of the San Francisco phone book and adopted it as his stage name. He and Dave Brubeck developed a rare affinity for one another. Whereas Desmond had a light, almost playful tone, Brubeck’s was heavy and somewhat aggressive. They complimented one another perfectly and appeared to think exactly alike in terms of music, effortlessly weaving counter point lines around each other’s solos. A recording they made at Oberlin College in Ohio demonstrates the intensity of the creative juices flowing between these two men. It is safe to say that neither of them would have achieved the phenomenal success they achieved had they not met when they did.
At that time, there wasn’t a Jazz man playing any instrument, who didn’t slavishly listen to and emulate Charlie “Bird” Parker, the alto saxophone giant who can easily be regarded as the father of all modern Jazz. Desmond hardly listened to him. He was his own man, apparently paying no attention to whatever anyone else was doing. The result was a totally individualistic sound, light, airy, harmonically complex and sophisticated. Desmonds high cultural level was evident. Initially critics claimed Desmond had received his inspiration from Lee Konitz, but under examination, this doesn’t hold water. Desmond was totally unique and must be regarded as one of the giants of his instrument. While playing with Brubeck, he made several recordings for Fantasy records under his own name, with the Norman Bates Choir and with trumpeter Don Elliott. The great San Francisco drummer Joe Dodge (another German-American) was a member of the Desmond quartet of those days. Desmond participated in practically every epoch making recording of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, writing its biggest hit “Take Five”. After many years together with Brubeck, Desmond decided to settle in Toronto, Canada, where he led a fine, sophisticated quartet with noted Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert, another musician of German ancestry.
Desmond, a chain smoker all his live was known for his dry wit and wanted to write his autobiography, but was felled by lung cancer at the age of 52. It is unquestioned, that Paul Breitenfeld/ Desmond next to Bix Beiderbecke and Glenn Miller is the most important Jazz musician of German extraction. No Jazz collection is complete without his recordings, particularly the “Jazz at Oberlin” disc, recorded in 1954 with Brubeck.
Born 02-09-22 in Monroe, Wisconsin. Family second generation Americans of German ethnicity. Birth name Joseph George. Family moved to San Francisco when he was still a child. While going to High School he took drum lessons from the percussionist of the San Francisco Symphony.He formed a group with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond after WW2. During the early fifties, when Desmond reformed a Quartet for a recording session, he joined him in a marvelous recording, but was unable to use his stage name, being under contract to another recording company. Desmond solved the problem. “Well Dodge” he said with a twinkle in his eye, for today we’ll just call you Chevrolet”. And so it happened that the drummer in the Desmond Quartet is the “unknown” Joe Chevrolet. The witty informative liner notes by the Jewish comedian Mort Sahl (brilliant political satirist and jazz fan) allude to this.
A modern drummer, Joe Dodge gained comparative fame as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the middle 50’s. He participated in the epoch making recordings of the 1956 Newport Jazz festival during which Brubeck established himself as a major composer of jazz music by introducing “In your own sweet way”, “I’m in a dancing mood” and “Two-part contention”. While “In your own sweet way” was harmonically very complex, the other two numbers represented a real challenge to the drummer, being written in different time signatures, frequently rhythms overlapping different rhythms. This type of poly-rhythmic structure, in which literally the entire cohesion of the group depended on the drummer, proved Joe Dodge to be truly a formidable time-keeper. Particularly on “Two part contention” did he prove his mettle. After leaving the Brubeck quartet, Dodge gigged around town in the bay area but was mostly active outside the Jazz field. Even though Dodge worked only with Brubeck & Desmond in his entire career, he certainly was one of the outstanding drummers to emerge from the West Coast. It is unfair and incorrect that his name has largely been ignored by the critics.
Born 06-05-20 in Herne, Germany. Wanted a career in music from an early age. Attended the famous Folkwang Schule in Essen and learned to play the clarinet as well as the piano. After the war he formed a small musical group with his buddy, drummer Bobby Schmidt. With this band he made his living playing for American Service clubs, much like Pepsi Auer was doing in Munich. He had some friends in the “Hot Club Of Frankfurt”, an organization of amateur musicians, who enjoyed playing “hot” music in the New Orleans tradition. Because of these contacts, his was the first German orchestra after the war to record for the Frankfurt Radio Station. Edelhagen was an admirer of the great American leader composer and pianist, Stan Kenton whose orchestral style he emulated. Despite his admiration of Stan Kenton, his band had a sound all it’s own, hard driving and swinging. His orchestra was possibly the most sought after big band in Germany and recorded numerous discs, including a record for the AFN, the American Forces Radio Network.
In 1949 he greatly improved his band by hiring top- flight musicians who had become available because of the break up of the Joe Wick orchestra. Soon thereafter he moved his organization south, to the Nuernberg radio station. While there his band played less and less Jazz, but rather pure dance music. This did not stop him from participating in Jazz music shows under the direction of music critic Joachim Ernst Berendt.
He formed a small group, playing only Jazz music, keeping the tradition alive. His orchestra performed Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto for Jazz Band and Rolf Lieberman’s Concerto for Jazz Band and Symphony Orchestra. Kurt Edelhagen led his orchestra until his retirement and must be regarded as one of the finest musical conductors of post war Germany.
Born 09-05-26 in Frankfurt a.m. Usual German High School education heavy in the humanities, followed by musical studies. As a boy, he learned to play the piano and the accordion. After the war he became very active in the German Jazz scene, particularly in Frankfurt a.M., his hometown.–?
–? Started playing with a dance band in 1947, allegedly led by Erhard Bauschke, who went by the unlikely stage name of “Joe Quitter”.–?
This is conflicting information, since Erhard Bauschke allegedly died toward the end of 1945 in Frankfurt. I have been unable to reconcile this, since information is very sketchy.
He honed his musical skills, particularly on the tenor saxophone, coming under the influence of Stan Getz. Freund’s fame was limited to Germany. He played with Jutta Hipp from 1952 to 1954, after which he formed his own quintet. He had achieved enough of a reputation to play with the Frankfurt All Stars at a variety of Jazz Festivals. Aside from a few European tours, he never left his “home turf”, preferring to play in Frankfurt a.M. He participated in a TV show with American stars Donald Byrd, Arthur Taylor and Doug Watkins.
Later he made a movie together with Jazz legend, bassist Oscar Pettiford. Besides having been a very fine modern saxophonist, he also played the tuba (!) for a traditional Jazz Band, called “The Two-Beat-Stompers”. Joki Freund represents the best German Jazz had to offer in the 50’s and 60’s, a polished musician, heavily under the influence of the “cool” movement, able to fill in on the piano as well as playing older styles of Jazz music.
Robert (Bob) Graettinger.
Born 10-31-23 Ontario, California, USA, died in Los Angeles 03-12-57. Ethnic German. Incredibly talented, complex individual who has never gotten his due, neither during his life time nor thereafter. Studied saxophone at the age of nine, music taking over his life. Here was a boy who rather learned how to write music, how to arrange a tune, than to play baseball. He dropped out of High School and went to work for Bobby Sherwood at the age of sixteen as a saxophonist and arranger. As a youngster his abilities to arrange became his trademark and he practically never again appeared as a tenor sax player. He worked for the great guitarist and bandleader Alvino Rey, a man who appreciated Graettinger’s harmonic complexities, having been a student of harmony with Professor Frederic Roger Saatman in San Francisco. He also worked for Jazz giant Benny Carter and modernist Johnny Richards, one of the premier modern leaders in Jazz music. Eventually, Graettinger found his way to the possibly most adventurous band on earth, the Stan Kenton orchestra. Stan Kenton was a man with a vision, a man whose only concern in life was his music. He was always on the look out for new talent and was floored by Graettinger’s arrangements. They reminded him on Stravinsky with a Jazz-feel and he decided to hire Graettinger on the spot. The new arranger was instrumental in some of Stan Kenton’s most innovative music and wrote extensively for the Kenton band. Stan Kenton, a genius himself, once expressed it thusly: “I don’t know whether Graettinger is nuts, or whether he’s a genius, but by God, there’s something there”.
Graettinger wrote “Thermopylae”, City Of Glass”, This Modern World”, “House Of Strings”, “Incident In Jazz” and even the vocal arrangement of the popular tune “Everything Happens To Me”, as sung by June Christy. His music, like the music of all geniuses requires getting used to, but it is a safe bet, that Bob Graettinger, who lived much too hard and died much too young, will eventually go down in music history as a giant.
Wilhelm Joseph (Bill) Grah.
Born on 06-24-28 in Cologne into a musical family. His father Willi Grah was a pianist and a conductor of note. His brother Heinz Grah is a Jazz bassist. Bill Grah started piano lessons in 1936. In 1947 he started learning the vibraphone as well as the drums. He did what so many German musicians did, namely to play for American Service Clubs, a good way to make a living in the trying times of post- war Germany.
In 1949 he hooked up with the Nachtfalter Quintet. He stayed with it for four years. Afterward he became an important part of one of the most popular German Jazz groups of the 50’s, the Fatty George Band, playing piano and vibes. He has led his own groups since 1958.
He has appeared with numerous American musicians, including Jazz giant Lionel Hampton and has been voted number one vibraphonist in Germany several times. A world class musician who chose to stay “at home” and was rewarded by becoming a sought after soloist, highly respected by all who knew him.
Born 05-16-30 Vienna. One of the rare musicians to “cross over” from classical to Jazz music, Gulda is a unique individual. His talents were recognized from an early age. He began to study the piano at the age of seven with Professor Pazofsky, at the time the most prominent music teacher in Vienna. At the age of twelve he entered the Staatsmusikakademie in Munich where he remained until 1947, studying with Professor Seidlhofer. Between 1946 and 1950 he toured extensively, giving concerts in Prague, Vienna, Munich, London, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Lima Peru and Quito Ecuador. When he made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York, he was hailed as the new genius among classical pianists. His interpretations of Beethoven were particularly outstanding. There were many other trips to New York and every time he appeared there, he spent every available chance visiting the famous Jazz clubs of the city. His affinity for the “new” music was stunning and he began to play Jazz piano, with a vengeance, as it were. He eventually formed his own Jazz group and appeared at Birdland, possibly the premier Jazz club in the world. His Jazz playing abilities are utterly amazing, given the fact that classical pianists are usually unable to get the “feel” of Jazz music. There are a few players, such as Andre Previn, or Bernard Peiper, who can play Jazz music, but they are rarities and not the norm. Gulda didn’t stay with Jazz music, reverting back to the classics, exploring the ultra-moderns, but he frequently plays Jazz music, “because I just love it” as he puts it. Gulda is regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. During the 1970’s Gulda led an avant guard Jazz orchestra, aside from his classical schedule.
Robert (Bob) Helm.
Born in Fairmead, Ca. 07-18-14. Family of German ethnicity, very musically inclined. He studied the clarinet in public school, his family being too poor to afford private lessons. He started playing in pit bands during the silent movie area as a youngster and joined the musicians union in 1932.He played mostly alto and tenor saxophone, but was a capable trumpet player as well. If called upon he could replace most of the musicians in a group having the phenomenal ability to actually play a great variety of instruments (not “fake” his way, but PLAY) such as drums and the bass. In 1935 he moved to San Francisco, where he started to play with Lu Watters and Turk Murphy, the Dixieland stalwarts of the West Coast. He was a prominent member of the Yerba Buena Jazz Band and later of the Turk Murphy ensemble, playing steadily for decades. His sound on the clarinet is similar to that of the great black player, Johnny Dodds and a Frankie Trumbauer influence is evident when he played the alto saxophone. With a short stint in Portland Oregon as the only exception, Helm was a ubiquitous presence on the San Francisco Dixieland Jazz scene, well liked and sought after for his multi-instrumental abilities, to play solos and to do section work.
Born on 02-14-25 in Leipzig Germany. The usual high level German High School education, after her “Abitur” (an Abitur qualifies one to enter a German University) enrolled at the Leipzig Kunstakademie to study art. Started piano lessons as a girl, thorough musical education in the classics by private teachers.Was very active, sitting in with traditional jazz bands in the Leipzig area. Listened assiduously to radio AFN (American Forces Network). This was the only way a young German after the war had a chance to hear what the originators of Jazz music sounded like. In those days in East Germany there were no records available. It was after the war and people were glad if they got enough to eat. To follow any sort of artistic direction or calling required a tremendous amount of will power and dedication. Her listening to the Jazz shows on the radio exposed her to a variety of Jazz styles. Being intellectually inclined she was drawn to the modern, cool sounds of Lennie Tristano. Her classical training, her incredible talent and her outstanding “ear” for harmony, permitted her to play a modern Jazz piano style, strongly influenced by the great American innovator. It is possible she had had instructions in Debussy-like harmonies, which would explain her ability to follow someone as complex as Tristano, for in those days European musicians understandably followed traditional Jazz musicians such as Sidney Bechet. Barely out of her teens, Jutta Hipp left for Munich with her family.
Munich was a cosmopolitan, artistically thriving community even then, so soon after the war and Jutta felt right at home. She started sitting in with modern groups, quickly building a reputation for her dead-sure playing right on the cutting edge of modernism, something which put her head and shoulders above almost every other Jazz pianist in Europe. That she was the most outstanding player in Germany was unquestioned. She soon met modern “soul-mates”, such as the great Vienese tenor saxophonist Hans Koller, making a big splash on the music scene with his full, round sound and his unusual command of the instrument. Her career took off like a V2 rocket. She started to appear in every important Jazz club in Germany, receiving rave reviews. The recordings she made then still sound fresh today. Her cohorts were men of outstanding ability, such as Emil Mangelsdorf, alto sax, Albert Mangelsdorf, trombone, Joki Freund, tenor sax and of course Hans Koller. On a European trip, the American Jazz critic par excellence Leonard Feather heard her and was floored. He insisted she come to the United States, a temptation impossible to resist for a German Jazz musician in the early fifties.
Alas, it was a very bad decision for Jutta Hipp. She was a young woman, reared in a very cultured home, used to being treated with respect by any and all and not in the least prepared for the rough-and-tumble world of the racist New York Jazz scene. In addition she was unarmed to defend herself against black predators, since she was infected by the ‘equality’ virus like practically all European musicians. Drug usage, alcoholism, anti-social behavior of every sort was common in the New York Jazz scene, even back then. Besides she was an exceptionally good-looking young woman, unattached, a stranger in a strange world, a world I venture to say, she did not begin to comprehend. Germans in those days had very romantic notions about the US, particularly young, comparably innocent jazz fans, who thought by merely playing an instrument well they would succeed. They had no idea about the horrendous cutthroat nature and the anti-white racism prevalent in the American Jazz scene. That many people in the US were irrationally anti-German was also something incomprehensible to young, eager minds intend on reaching out and to connect. Young Germans actucally BELIEVED in the democracy and freedom incessantly having been promised. They were very, very gullible, a german characteristic.
She worked for a while at the Hickory House Jazz club with British bassist Peter Ind, a fine player, student of Tristano’s (later to open an excellent recording studio in London) and American drummer Ed Thigpen, a marvelous time keeper and later a mainstay in the Oscar Peterson trio. There she recorded two discs for Blue Note records, discs on which she sounds stilted and self-conscious. Her style had undergone a metamorphosis. She had fallen under the musical influence of a player who was totally removed from what had been her conception of Jazz music, Horace Silver. This influence appears to have destroyed her musically.
From a free spirit, a cool Tristanoesque player, she changed to “just another jazz player”, one is tempted to say ‘wigger’. Slowly she began to lose her self confidence. During a recording session with black drummer Art Blakeley, she was verbally assaulted by this brutal Congolese tribesman for alledgedly stealing American jobs, for ‘not being able to play’, a common allegation by ebonics-howling Bantus. During the session, Blakeley continued to verbally assault her, and we all know the profanity-laden language such people use. He sped up on purpose, then blaming her for not keeping proper time. It must have been a nightmare. This appears to have been her last session. She disappeared totally from the scene in the early 1960’s, never to be heard from again. In early 2003 it became known that she had died alone, broke and forgotten in a Queens tenement in New York. She died so poor, that rather than being buried in a paupers grave, she had previously willed her body to the medical department of Columbia University. Why this highly talented woman didn’t return to Germany in the late 1950’s when the failure of her American experimant was apparent, no one will ever know. What on earth made her stay in a hostile, ugly environment should be investigated by an anthropological psychiatrist.
Born 10-05-12 in Barmen, Germany, died on 07-11-56, one of Germany’s finest jazz musicians of the Swing era, initially heavily influenced by Chicagoans Frankie Trumbauer and Bud Freeman, but with maturity changing to the more smooth and sophisticated sounds associated with Benny Goodman. Hoellerhagen came from a middle class German background, which meant that it was expected of him to learn some sort of musical instrument. His talent was discovered when, at the age of ten he took to the violin “like a duck takes to water”. His parents decided to further his musical talents and he soon began to show far more interest in the clarinet and the related saxophone family of instruments. He studied music assiduously while in school and after High School, enrolled at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne. While being a conservatory student, he played in nightclubs, to the chagrin of his staid parents. Nightlife being very lively in the 20’s and 30’s in Germany, Hoellerhagen had no difficulties finding work and being exposed to different sounds and ideas from visiting foreign musicians, particularly from England, from whence came some of the best modern dance orchestras in Europe. During the 1930’s he played with just about every important German Jazz band in Berlin, almost invariably being a featured solois. In 1932 he worked for the Sam Wooding band and was voted the best alto saxophonist in Germany, in the musical trade journal of the time. He moved to Holland, playing in den Haag in a Dutch big band lead by Melle Weesma.
He also worked for an English band led by Jack Hylton, at the time one of the premier outfits in the world. In 1936 he moved to Switzerland, where he played with the American Jazz giant Coleman “Bean” Hawkins and several Swiss groups. He decided to stay in Switzerland when the war broke out.
.It does appear that he was a draft dodger, a serious charge, but borne put by his behaviour. Other German musicians died a heroes death defending their fatherland
After the war he joined Swiss clarinetist and leader Hazi Osterwald. With Osterwald he appeared on the same bill with Charlie Parker, Al Haig and James Moody, modern Jazz giants from the USA, at the Paris Jazz festival of 1949. He played with the Osterwald ensemble as the clarinet soloist until his death, participating in numerous TV shows, radio broadcasts and Jazz festivals all over Europe.
Born 02-12-21 in Vienna. After High School, studied clarinet at the Musikakademie in Vienna until being drafted in the Wehrmacht in 1940. It has been alleged that he was one of the few musicians in Germany who played Jazz music during the war years, a propaganda claim and totally without foundation. After the war years, Koller studied all he could about American Jazz music, switching to tenor saxophone after hearing American Jazz great Don Byas. Byas’s influence in the form of his big, round sound has been evident throughout Koller’s career. Having studied clarinet as a youngster and having tremendous talent, Koller picked up the modern sounds of the times readily. Soon he was playing all over town and subsequenbtly and became Jutta Hipp’s steady tenor-man. Had they stayed together in Germany, great things would have possibly happened. When Hipp left for the USA, Koller started playing with other groups, freelancing all over Europe, seemingly having lost his “anchor”, never really finding a groove with anyone else. He came to New York in the early 1960’s and recorded with Atilla Zoller, a Hungarian expatriate guitarist, another unsung hero in Jazz music. Atilla Zoller who came from Budapest, had previously settled in Frankfurt where he enjoyed an enviable repuation. He gave up the prestigious position of Germany’s most lauded guitarist to go to New York in order to become just another European failure.
Whether Koller ever connected with Jutta Hipp in New York is unknown. Several other American musicians recorded with Koller as well, but his finest hour came when he recorded a solo album on which he overdubbed melody lines he had improvised. He thusly formed a one-man “saxophone choir” which showcased his talents impressively. His total command of the instrument and his extensive harmonic knowledge are evidenced in that recording. He proved that he belonged at the top, but such success eluded him in the USA, as it had eluded so many great European players. He returned to Vienna, gigged around with various groups, studied art, painted a little and ended up living a successful life, honored and respected by all who knew him. He even had his own art show at an important Viennese art gallery.
Irving (Irv) Kluger.
Born 07-09-21 in Brooklyn, New York into a German/Jewish immigrant family. Irv started studying Violin at an early age but soon abandoned that instrument in favor of the drums and the vibraphone. While playing around New York, he studied drums with Henry Adler and attended New York University, where he majored in composition. Kluger’s talent soon made him one of the most sought after musicians on the scene. He played with the following name bands:
Bob Astor, Georgie Auld, Bob Chester, the great Boogie-Woogie pianist Freddie Slack, Tex Beneke, Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton and the enfant terrible of the modern trumpet, Dizzy Gillespie. He appears on numerous recordings, particularly on the ones made by Artie Shaw, when Artie headed his small group, The Gramercy Five, a group heavily influenced by the German violin virtuoso Helmut Zacharias, who had introduced the harpsichord to Jazz music many years before.
Born 02-04-08 in New York, son of a German/Jewish immigrant family. Manny’s musical gifts became obvious to his parents, who enrolled him in the Institute of Musical Arts in New York. There he studied trumpet, sight-reading, arranging and music history. Klein was never a soloist of note, but was known for his rock-solid lead playing, never missing a beat. As a consequence he was very much in demand by big band leaders who needed a man who could be relied on as a section player. Manny played with some of the finest bands in the land, such as Red Nichols, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, as well as a short stint with the great Chicago-stylist Frankie Trumbauer. After WW2, he moved to the West Cost becoming active as a studio musician in Hollywood.
Born 10-20-07 in Newark. Family of German origin. Learned to play the guitar while still in High School and developed into one the finest early Jazz guitarists. He is best known for his association with Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer and having been a very prominent member of the most successful dance band of the 20’s, Paul Whiteman. Kress, even though never as well known as Eddie Lang, was Lang’s equal as is evidenced by the duet recordings the two made in the early 30’s.
Kress is the originator of the “chordal” style of rhythm-guitar playing, influencing the late great rhythm guitarist Freddie Green of Count Basie fame as well as thousands of other guitarists. Kress worked with some of the greatest, such as the Dorsey brothers, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Red Nichols, the aforementioned Paul Whiteman, Muggsy Spanier, the incredibly individualistic clarinetist Pee Wee Russell (“The long thin man playing the long thin instrument”) blues singer extraordinaire Billy Holiday and “Satchmo” Armstrong. He became less and less active as a Jazz player, making his living as a studio musician, appearing on TV shows etc. until his death.
Born 11-07-27 In Vienna, clarinet, saxophones and piano. Comes from a very musical family. Began piano studies as a seven-year old child, was a member of the famed Vienna Boys’ Choir. Began to study the clarinet and other reed instruments in 1940 and continued these studies until 1949. Being very intellectually inclined, he enrolled at the University of Vienna and obtained a Ph.D. in musicology. Had own jazz groups on and off, worked with a variety of Austrian and German jazz musicians including Hans Koller. Kovac has been active in the Jazz world not only on the level of a player, but more and more as a Jazz academic. He has appeared at every major European Jazz festival and in most European Jazz clubs. He is essentially an intellectual player, without much “soul” as it is understood in the Jazz world. His theoretical knowledge is extensive and he has been one of the most important personages in Austrian/German Jazz circles.
Born 06-08-19 in Gruenstadt, Germany. His father was a professional musician leading a popular dance orchestra in the city of Hannover, Germany. He encouraged his son to study music, which he did at the Staedtische Musikschulein Peine, near Hannover. There he studied musicology, piano, vibraphone and music history. As early as 1945 he managed to obtain a position at the Radio station in Berlin as a pianist and arranger. In 1948, he became co-leader of the Radio Rias Dance Band, one of the premier orchestras of the time anywhere in Europe. In 1951 he moved west, and took over the leadership of the Suedwestfunk Dance band in Stuttgart. His reputation had in the meantime been firmly established as an outstanding leader as well as a fine pianist/vibraharpist. He played the vibraphone whenever he appeared with his own small group, the Erwin Lehn Quartet or Quintet and became a fixture at the various European Jazz festivals, where he was always well received. Erwin Lehn has been active in German musical circles until his retirement and is regarded as an outstanding orchestral leader on par with Kurt Edelhagen.
Born on 12-03-02 in Denver, Colorado into a family of German extraction. As was typical of German families, his had a piano in the parlor and his mother started giving him lessons when he was six years old. His father, cornet player Curt Lingle was travelling the hinterland of Americas mid-west like so many musicians of the times. Paul soon accompanied his dad, playing the piano. On his travels Paul became more and more interested in the sounds of the black musicians he heard. He was particularly taken by Jelly Roll Morton and Ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin coming very much under their influence. He settled in San Francisco during the 1920’s forming his own band and playing for Al Jolson. During the 1930’s he was a studio musician in the San Francisco area and became a legend in his own time when he earned the undisguised admiration of New Orleans giant Bunk Johnson, blues singer Leadbelly and San Francisco’s very own Turk Murphy. During the early 1950’s he moved to Honolulu, where he started his own jazz band and opened up a recording studio.
Born 09-05-28 in Frankfurt a.m. Brother of alto saxophonist Emil Mangelsdorf.Member of the “Frankfurt Hot Club”, he was an early adherent of American Jazz. He studied music at the Conservatory in Frankfurt, majoring in trombone and violin. He has played with every important jazz musician of the German jazz scene, Jutta Hipp, Hans Koller, his brother Emil Mangelsdorf, Joki Freund, etc. He was a member of the Frankfurt All Stars as well as the German All Stars. During the 1950’s and 60’s he developed a phenomenal technique on the trombone and was called “the greatest trombone player in the world” by none other then John Lewis, the musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet.Mangelsdorf has appeared at every conceivable jazz festival in the world and is incessantly in demand as a soloist by a variety of orchestras in Europe. He has recorded numerous discs, including the outstanding “Now Jazz Ramwong”, a classic in the annals of modern Jazz and a must for the serious Jazz record collector.
Born 04-11-25 in Frankfurt, alto saxophonist Emil is the older brother of famed trombonist Albert Mangelsdorf. He studied at the Conservatory in Frankfurt a.M. and belonged to the very active “Hot Club” in Frankfurt as early as 1941. He was an active member of the Frankfurt Jazz scene throughout the war years and never lost his love for traditional Dixieland music, having recorded with “The Two Beat Stompers”, a traditional group based in Frankfurt. His style could best be described as Jimmy Dorsey-like. He, like his brother, has played with every important German jazz musician of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and later. He was a member of the German All Stars, the Frankfurt All Stars and has appeared at every important European Jazz festival. Emil, unlike his brother, practically never left the European continent, being content with the considerable success and respect which was accorded him at home. After retirement, he gigged around for fun and appeared late in 2001 in Berlin with German clarinet giant Teddy Kleindin and another forgotten German player from the Hitler era, guitarist Coco Schumann. He is regarded as one of the more important German alto saxophonists.
Born 06-23-11 in New Orleans. Family’s orginal name was Mueller, but upon arriving at Ellis island they either changed it, or what is more likely, it was changed for them, which happened frequently in those days. Immigrant families, particularly those from German lands were eager to assimilate and didn’t object, desirous to show their positive attitude toward their new home. Early music lessons at home and in school, where he picked up the clarinet. He started to play with some of the top bands in the country as a teenager, being a highly proficient instrumentalist who wasn’t only able to play first rate section work, but who was also able to play fine solos when called upon. He doubled on tenor saxophone, being under the influence of the very fine Chicago style player, Bud Freeman. He played with, among others, the great trumpeter Bunny Berigan, drummer Ben Pollock who also employed Glenn Miller at one time and Bob Crosby. In the middle 30’s he was a member of the Glenn Miller band, alas long before Glenn became famous. He played an important role in the Dixieland revival of the 1940’s, rejoining the Bob Crosby organization in the 50’s. He remained with Crosby until his retirement.
Born on 03-01-04 in Clarindo Iowa, died on 12-16-44 in (probably) Paris, France.Glenn Miller was reared in a musical German-American family. He can arguably be called the most successful dance band musician of the 20th.century. He, like so many of his generation, fell in love with Jazz music and was determined to make music his career early in life. While in High School he participated in the marching band learning how to play the trombone. He developed a mastery of his instrument when he attended the University of Colorado, where he also began the study of harmony and music theory, something he continued much later, when he studied composition with famed music professor Joseph Schillinger in New York. While being a student of Schillinger’s he wrote a piece as an assignment in composition-class which became famous later as “The Moonlight Serenade”, one of the prettiest melodies written in the last 70 years. It is a safe bet that more American kids fell in love during the 40’s and early 50’s listening to that song, than to any other in the annals of music. It is the epitome of a love song and one of the two most popular melodies of the war years, the other one being the haunting German Lied “Lilli Marlene”.
In the 1920’s he played Jazz trombone with the two very popular groups at the time, the Ben Pollock orchestra and the famed “Red Nichols and his five Pennies”. He even appeared as a soloist with black pianist Fats Waller on a recording date. His solo-style was rough and gruff, much like that of the great American Indian, Miff Mole. In the very early thirties, Miller started distancing himself from trombone solo playing and concentrated on writing instead, becoming a contributing arranger for the Dorsey Brothers band and Ray Noble. While with the Noble ensemble he worked out the marvelous voicing, namely the clarinet-over-the saxophones. This “sound” gave the Miller band-to-be the unmistakable, individualistic sound by which it could be instantly recognized. In the middle thirties Miller struck out on his own financially assisted by his wife’s family and by his good friend, fellow trombone great Tommy Dorsey. He built a band with which he toured the American hinterland, alas without success. A lesser man would have given up, what with meeting pay-roll despite a dearth of paying jobs, transportation problems occasioned by age-old busses whose claim to fame was their cheap price and subsequent unreliability, not to mention the indifferent audiences, if there were any at all.
His college buddy, pianist Chummy McGregor went along for the ride and stuck with Miller through thick and thin. Despite the tremendous difficulties faced by him, he formed a new band in 1938. This band included the ubiquitous Chummy McGregor, trumpeters Al Klink, Charlie Spivak and Billy May, clarinetist par excellence Irving Fazola, tenor saxophonist Ernie Caceres, sax-man and sometime-vocalist Tex Beneke, another German/American. Singers Marion Hutton and Ray Eberle, another German/American of note took care of the vocal chores.
Tex Beneke proved himself an able saxophone soloist and “right-hand” man. Being a born leader made him the ideal choice to be in charge of many rehearsal sessions. Beneke was in a sense, the first real “concert master” in Jazz and dance music. In addition to the players, Miller added the arranger Jerry Gray. It was he who began to write most of the material for the band, since Miller began to concentrate more and more on public relations, something in which he was ably assisted by his friend and manager Don Haynes. It was Gray’s arrangement of “In The Mood”, which put the Miller band over the top. Besides the new band having largely new personnel, Miller had re-written old arrangements and added a slew of new ones as well. All arrangements now featured the soon-to-become famous Miller sound achieved by making the clarinet the lead instrument of the sax-section. The orchestra not only sounded differently, it was a highly disciplined outfit. Their uniforms were always tasteful and flawless. Their presentation was professional to an extreme. Their entire demeanor was that of a cohesive musical unit on par with a Symphony Orchestra. This kind of professionalism was uncommon, their on-time appearances, flawless performances and “clean”-living musicians, all added immeasurably to the impression the orchestra made. All of this was made possible by Glenn Miller’s unquestioned leadership status.
This man inspired loyalty in his musicians like few, if any other band leaders. Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington are probably the only other leaders to have inspired such loyalty. This was the more astounding since Glenn Miller was a very reserved, some have said, cold individual who let only very few people ever really get close to him. With his new band Miller had hit “the jackpot”. The success he enjoyed almost at once was phenomenal. Ray Eberle and Marion Hutton became household names the radio waves were filled with the sound of his band and a recording contract with Bluebird Records brought in huge revenues. The Glenn Miller band was in such demand henceforth that he was unable to accept all the bookings offered him. His success was truly unequalled in the annals of popular music. He was approached by military brass “to do his part” in the anti-German war effort and subsequently disbanded in 1942 to join the US Army.
With the rank of major he formed a military band using many of his peacetime colleagues. One could argue, that the best military band in history was born, when Miller decided on that course of action. It was at that time that he re-arranged the famous “St. Louis Blues” into a march, much to the chagrin of the staid, traditional minded top brass. Miller wasn’t deterred and it wasn’t for long that his version of the American classic became the favorite march of the allied armed forces. The “St. Louis Blues” march became the American equivalent of the German “Badenweiler” march, a marvelous piece of marching music outlawed by the allies in their “democratic wisdom” and unfailing sense of freedom, after 1945.
Miller and his band toured military bases, including those in England and entertained the troops. He never lowered himself to disparage the enemy in any way unlike some other entertainers, particularly Marlene Dietrich who proved to be a true disgrace by her behavior and utterances.On 12-16-1944 he allegedly flew across the English Channel to join his band in Paris, only never to return. This appears to be a carefully constructed myth in order to protect an American icon. because an icon he had definitely become. His death during the war had to be made “heroic”. This is understandable, even if historically untrue. The story of his demise seems to have been carefully constructed by his friend Don Haynes, his manager for many years. The truth is that on the fateful day in question, not a single American or British aircraft crossed the channel. The allies kept meticulous flight records throughout the war years and there is no mistake about that. The story as it is represented in the Hollywood fairy tale filmed in the early 1950’s is filled with so much nonsense, that it almost defies description. In the movie he is claimed to have sat in with Louis Armstrong, utterly ludicrous, since no white musician ever sat in with a black group in the 1920’s, much less an unknown trombone player sitting in with someone of Armstrong’s stature, a musician world famous even then.
He agonizes over “The Sound”. He is portrayed as searching desperately for “something which he heard in his head” but was unable to intellectualize and all of that while on a road trip with a trumpet player who had been rendered unable to play because of a split lip. Patent nonsense. He had arrived at the voicings that gave his orchestra that special sound while with Ray Noble the early 30’s. None of the musicians he had been associated with throughout his career were treated respectfully but rather as that of “side-kicks”, fawning over their god-like leader, clearly an insult to all concerned.
Inexcusably, the movie totally ignored (never even mentioned!) the considerable contributions of sax-man Tex Beneke, a fine musician and good man who deserved far better. Research conducted in the early 1990’s by a German historian reveals what really appears to have happened that fateful night on 12-16-44; the band which apparently never traveled without Glenn Miller’s presence, was in Paris. Being there, the boys decided to have some fun and went to a bordello. While enjoying the attentions of a Madmoiselle, Miller apparently suffered a heart attack and died. What a way to go, even if less than heroic. The Parisian police, upon realizing they were dealing with an American officer called the military police to handle the case. They in turn disappeared with the body and that was the end of that. Now here come the curious, to be kind, facts: The name of the American major is blacked out on the Parisian police report, and strangely there’s no military police report of any kind extant for that particular day. This is puzzling, because there are no missing American military police records in Paris for the entire war time period except for that particular day. Furthermore, no French police records contain blacked-out names except that particular report. This had to have been one hell of an important “major”. Had his name been “Major Jim Flagwaver from East Overshoe, Idaho” there wouldn’t have been any need to hide the identity. Furthermore, the names of the American military policemen and their unit have been “lost”. When attempts at interviewing former band members were made, they refused to talk to anyone. Why? The aforementioned Don Haynes, who apparently concocted of the original “heroic” story was the only one who ever spoke of it and then reluctantly. To top it all of, the name of the pilot who allegedly flew the ill-fated plane has been “lost” as has the flight number, or the type of aircraft allegedly used. There are simply too many coincidences here, too many unexplained circumstances, too many things that make absolutely no sense.
After WW2, the Miller sound was assiduously copied by a variety of bands which were trying to cash in on Glenn’s popularity. Smooth trumpeter Ray Anthony led a band with the Miller sound. Anthony had worked for Miller in 1941, but had had serious personal differences with him and left in a huff. The exceptionally talented arranger Jerry Gray, who had worked for Miller and had written some of the biggest hits of the band, fronted a Miller-like orchestra for a while. So did the very capable Tex Beneke, who led a Miller-like aggregation longer and more successfully than any other person.
The Miller Family Trust commissioned Ray McKinley, one of the former Miller drummers, to front a band in the fifties using original Miller arrangements. Aside from these, there were dozens of others, some successful, others not so. One of the least successful ones was one led by Glenn Miller’s brother, shades of the Ellington band, led by Ellington’s son, another failure. The truth is that the Miller sound is a joy to listen to, no matter what era and has stood the test of time. No other orchestra in popular music comes to mind which had such a lasting influence on the scene and which is remembered with as much affection by so many people, many born long after Miller took his last breath on that memorable day in gay Paris December 1944.
Born 06-11-29 in St.Louis, Mo. Family of German ethnicity, moved to Los Angeles, while he was still a child. Visited Los Angeles City College, studying music, particularly alto saxophone and composition. Niehaus developed into one of the world’s premier jazz writers. His saxophone play is influenced by Lee Konitz, he however is his “own man” and in no way a copy cat. During the 1950’s he led numerous experimental groups in the Los Angeles area, from quintet to tentet in size. His orchestrations almost never included the piano, very unusual, since the piano is an integral part of almost every jazz group, large or small. His writings are distinguished by extreme smoothness, relentless swing and an emphasis on section work, rather than on solo work. His jazz is truly “written”, without sounding in any way stilted. This is unusual insofar as most jazz writers merely create a skeleton, as it were, for the soloists to shine during their play. Niehaus creates however a densely textured sound which showcases the entire group. The soloists are merely an adjunct, rather than the raison d’entre.
Lennie Niehaus’s recordings are quintessential examples of West Coast Jazz and an absolute must for those interested in that genre. His groups regularly included the cream of the crop of West Coast Jazz musicians, such as drummer Shelly Manne.Niehaus got his start writing on a large scale when he was part of the Stan Kenton orchestra, a “school” as it were for so many outstanding musicians. Lennie Niehaus has concentrated almost exclusively on arranging for movies, radio, and recording studios during the last 30 or so years.
Birth name Lester Polfuss. Born into a German/American family on 06-09-16 at Waukesha, Wis. Paul is one of the most prominent unsung heroes of German ethnicity. He was not only a pioneer on the Jazz guitar, but also an unmitigated electronic genius, responsible for a variety of inventions, some of which are truly astounding. This all the more incredible, when considering his having been largely self taught.
While in Junior High he fell in love with the wonders of electricity and read ferociously on the subject absorbing an astounding amount of highly technical information. All the while studying the guitar, music sight-reading and harmony, almost all of it independently and with very limited help. He developed into a premier guitar virtuoso, influenced by Eddie Lang and supposedly by Django Reinhardt. The Reinhardt influence is however exceedingly doubtful, since this writer finds it highly improbable Les Paul ever even heard of him during his formative years. Django played in France and recorded almost nothing during those years. The small amount of recordings that had been made never found their way across the Atlantic. Reinhardt’s fame in American Jazz circles was limited to a small group of musicians who had actually traveled to Europe and had heard him play in person. Reinhardt was a totally unknown entity to the American public at that time. What is more likely is, that Les’s genius led him independently to play with Reinhardtian flair and that during later years, he expressed admiration for the Frenchman as did a myriad of other jazz musicians regardless of instrument. Les Paul’s constant electronic experiments led to the invention of the ubiquitous electric guitar. This milestone invention alone should have assured everlasting fame. Aside from it, he, at the tender age of 12 had built his own recording equipment in the garage of his home.
By the time he was 13 years old, he was touring the country with country singer/guitar player Wolverton for four years. At the age of 20 he formed the Les Paul Trio with Jimmy Atkins piano and bassist Ernie Newton. Jimmy Atkins, older brother of Chet Atkins was an amazing pianist, strangely totally ignored by Jazz historians. His name is nowhere to be found. This is incredible considering that his style is a direct precursor to the late great Nat King Cole and to piano giant Oscar Peterson. This fabulous trio pre-dates the Nat King Cole Trio by a good number of years, showing overpowering influence exerted over the Nat King Cole outfit of later years. Also Les Paul’s tremendous musical influence is felt when listening to the original Oscar Peterson trio. Peterson not only did a lot of listening to Cole, but obviously to the unsung Jimmy Atkins, who deserves a lot better than to be ignored by the so called Jazz historians.
The Les Paul Trio was hugely successful, having its own radio show (akin to having your own TV show these days) and sold millions of records. Les Paul was not content with resting on his laurels, but continued electronic experimentation, which led to the very first, original multi-track recordings ever made. He is the originator of the technique later called “over dubbing”. This genius’s technical feats have either been downplayed, or have been dismissed by Jazz critic Leonard Feather as having been gimmicks. This is obviously unforgivable and points to the absurd Jazz critics notion that anyone who is financially successful as a jazzman is automatically to be dismissed. Unless of course such a musician is a black drug addicted social outcast and announces that “He Bad”. Than he’s lauded as the second coming of Christ by self-delusional white critics, who under examination don’t know the difference between a Schubert Lied and a Beethoven Sonata.
Les Paul married the pop singer Mary Ford. With her addition to his group, the Les Paul Trio unfortunately lost its musical brilliance, ending up as just another musical act, albeit hugely successful in a financial and popular sense. Despite that, Les Paul was one of the finest Jazz guitarists ever to pick up that instrument. His Trio exerted colossal influence on the Nat King Cole and Oscar Peterson Trios of subsequent years and he personally contributed mightily to Jazz music, recording techniques, instrument making and to American popular culture at its best.
The inexplicably dismissive treatment accorded to him by Leonard Feather and other Jazz critics is a reflection on their inability to put things into the proper frame. Long after these critics’ names have been relegated to the dustbin of musical history, Les Paul will be remembered as one of the true giants of American music, a man we Germans can be justly proud of.
Born 04-06-29 in Berlin. Family left Germany in 1939 due to their being Jewish. That they nurtured the German language and culture at home can be deduced from the flawless German Previn speaks to this day. Because of his being a Wunderkind he was enrolled at the Berlin conservatory as well as the Paris conservatory of music. He displayed a phenomenal ability to pick up anything musically with ease. After coming to the US he continued his studies, excelling in all areas of musical development. Soon after WW2 he began to gig around Hollywood, being in demand as a jazz pianist due to his flawless sight- reading, ability to fit in, his swinging play during solos and his familiarity with modern harmonics. He was criticized for his having had extensive classical training (!), it was said that anyone with that kind of background couldn’t possibly be a good jazz player, patently idiotic. This irrational nonsense, widely believed than and today was spouted by people who pushed the doctrine that one had to be black in order to “feel” jazz music.
Previn earned a great deal of money recording numerous discs with string orchestras, playing “mood” music, and was a successful writer for Hollywood sound tracks, receiving all sorts of awards for his writing and arranging. Due to Previn’s commercial successes (it has always been popular to be a “starving artist”, unless of course one is that artist himself) some self-appointed jazz purists claimed that a real jazz pianist wouldn’t record commercial music. Again, abject nonsense. The great English pianists George Shearing and Alec Templeton, both blind since birth, had done the same thing, without it ever detracting from their Jazz playing. In the 1950’s Previn joined two formidable musicians, Red Mitchell the bassist and Shelly Manne the drummer to form the Shelley Manne Trio. Manne had “graduated” from the Stan Kenton band and had opened his own jazz club in Hollywood, fittingly called “Shelley’s Manhole”. With these two stalwarts, he recorded numerous discs, every one of which was artistically, musically and commercially successful, a rare combination, only exceeded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
He subsequently formed a trio under his own name making numerous successful recordings with it as well. He also taught at the University of California, exposing many students to the intricacies of modern jazz. Andre Previn re-crossed over to classical music to become one of the best known conductors worldwide, directing, amongst others, the Dallas Symphony and the world class London Symphonic Orchestra. While being in incessant demand as a conductor for classical orchestras, he still made occasional appearances as a jazz pianist, demonstrating his continued love for that genre. It can be argued that he is one of the world’s most important musicians during the latter part of the 20th.Century as well as being one of the giants of the piano during that era.
Born 11-08-26 in Berlin. Born into a very musical family. Two of his brothers became church organists. His parents enrolled him early in musical studies including the organ, piano, violin and theory. He decided to teach himself how to play the guitar after hearing a record by Eddie Lang one of the first guitar giants in Jazz. Besides developing into one of Germany’s premier guitarists, he has also written numerous tunes and arrangements for a variety of orchestras and settings, including the commercial arena. After WW2 he was hired by the house-band which was playing for the AFN (American Forces Network) in Berlin. He remained there for a number of years until he moved on, appearing in numerous jazz festivals with his own quintet. He was the featured soloist with the Erwin Lehn band as well as with Kurt Edelhagen. The very first performance of Jazz music at the Berlin Hochschule fuer Musik (Academy for music) was presented by his quintet. Rediske has worked mostly in radio and TV programming during the last 30-some years.
Born 06-15-15 in New York into a family of German ethnicity. He picked up the banjo and played his first job after only one lesson. He studied the guitar throughout school and entered the world of professional music while still a youngster. Years later he studied with the Benny Goodman guitarist George van Epps, one of the outstanding players of the day. Van Epps recommended Reuss to Benny Goodman with whom he remained for four years. Later he played with Paul Whiteman, Jack Teagarden and numerous other famous leaders. The high points of his career came when he was named “Best guitarist” in both the Down Beat and the Metronome jazz polls in 1944. “Down Beat” and “Metronome” were the premier music publications of those days.” After WW2 Reuss moved to the Los Angeles area, playing locally and working as a studio musician until his retirement.
Born on 12-02-14 in Brooklyn, New York into a family of German immigrants who maintained their language and culture at home. He attended Nyack High School and later Columbia University, studying drums and trumpet from early childhood. While at Columbia he also took courses in music theory at the famed Juilliard School Of Music. During summer breaks he played gigs on cruise lines gaining valuable experience as a section player in an orchestral setting. In the middle 30’s he wrote for the Red Norvo orchestra and subsequently he worked as an arranger for Ray McKinley (formerly a drummer with Glenn Miller) Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey. In 1952 he joined Bill Finegan in the formation of a modern orchestra which was neither a dance band nor a jazz orchestra, but rather an experimental unit formed for the purposes of recordings only. Both he and his partner denounced any interest in jazz music, claiming that genre was too stifling for their creative ideas. Frankly this was a rather arrogant attitude, not becoming someone of his talent. Their band was surprisingly successful for a few years, recording orchestral pieces that were unusual in their harmonic and melodic conception.After about three years, the orchestra disbanded due to declining record sales and popularity. The music is quite interesting, even though its mission to create something totally new was actually a bit contrived as such attempts historically appear to be. Sauter accepted the position of conductor for the Suedwestfunk Radio station in Baden Baden Germany. Returned to the USA after a few years and has been active in studio work ever since.
Born 11-11-25 in Jackson Heights, New York into a middle class German immigrant family. He was exposed to classical music as a child and that has been and remained his first love. He studied French Horn called Waldhorn in German, at the Manhattan School Of Music. After graduation he played for many years with the Cincinnati Symphony orchestra. Upon his return to New York, he joined the musical staff of the Metropolitan Opera Company for about ten years. Even though Schuller has not played jazz music himself, he has been in the forefront of working for its acceptance by the classical music world. He has written several pieces of “chamber” jazz one of which, “Conversations” was performed at Town Hall by the Modern Jazz Quartet together with the Beaux Arts String Quartet. His efforts at combining jazz and classical music have been less than successful, but interesting nevertheless. Schuller’s importance is in his having intellectualized the thinking of many jazz players and his having been a fine teacher of modern harmony, musical conception and theory at various schools of music, including The School Of Jazz in Lennox, Mass.
Born 11-21-02 in Reading Pennsylvania into a German family in which music was of primary importance. He displayed an affinity for music as a child and studied with his father John Gustav Schutt, who was an accomplished pianist. While in High School, he began playing around the Reading area, building a reputation as a solid player, whose technical abilities put him head and shoulders above the competition. He found it easy to make a good living since sight-reading was one of his strong suits. In the early days of jazz, it was usually the pianist who had enjoyed whatever formal education there had been and Schutt had had a strong teacher in his father who had insisted that his son learn the basics before anything else. Schutt ended up being a major part in the recordings of Frankie Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke, vibraharpist and baritone sax player Adrian Rollini, trombonist Miff Mole one of the few Native American players in Jazz, Red Nichols as well as possibly the finest violin player in Jazz, the Italian-American Joe Venuti. In the 1940’s Schutt moved to Los Angeles, free lanced in town and worked for the studios. He is one of the first Jazz pianists who had classical training and had thereby acquired outstanding technical abilities.
Eugene Charles (Gene) Schroeder
Born 02-05-15 in Madison Wisconsin into a first generation German immigrant family in which musical traditions were highly prized. Both parents were very musical, mother playing the parlor-piano, whereas his father was a trumpeter. As a child, he began studying the piano with his mother, who remained a major musical influence throughout his life. After High School he enrolled at the Wisconsin School of Music, continuing his formal education at The Music School of the University of Wisconsin. Thusly he received a first rate musical education. While being a student he fell in love with Jazz music. He played with numerous hotel orchestras and house bands at different venues. One of the most prominent musician with whom he became associated was clarinetist Joe Marsala, with whom he worked at the Hickory House in one of the very first integrated Jazz groups, including Red Allen, the great black trumpeter. During the war years, he began an association with Dixieland stalwart Eddie Condon. He played with Condon at the latter’s club in New York and went on numerous tours with the Condon aggregation throughout the USA and Europe. He remained with Condon until his retirement. Like his compatriot Arthur Schutt, he had enjoyed a first rate classical education and is considered to have been one of the finest Dixieland pianists.
Born on 03-14-06 in Kansas City to a family of German ethnicity. Family moved to Chicago early on. His musical education took mainly place at Austin High School. There he met some kids who later on developed into Jazz giants, such as the unforgettable cornet player Jimmy McPartland, the early saxophone giant Bud Freeman and others. Whether Frank ever received private lessons is doubtful. He was a product of the Chicago School system and became a member of the “Austin High” gang, a group of teenage musicians who made a name for them selves in the Chicago area and in Jazz history as one of the very early white Jazz bands. This band’s music laid the foundation for Chicago Style Jazz, a derivative of New Orleans style, distinguished by a smooth flow of musical ideas, a lack of poly-improvisation in favor of individualistic improvisation and more prominent section play. Chicago-style Jazz was the direct precursor to Swing.
Teschemacher eventually played with trumpet great Muggsy Spanier at the Midway Gardens in Chicago, several other groups in the area and also with Red Nichols in New York. While on the way to a rehearsal with trumpeter Wild Bill Davidson he met an untimely death in a traffic accident at the age of 26. Knowledgeable music critics are agreed that Frank Teschemacher was a trail blazer in Chicago Jazz and unsurpassed in his field. It appears had he stayed alive he would have been powerful competition to Benny Goodman, maybe surpassing him. But that of course is mere conjecture.
Born in Carbondale Ill sometime in 1900, died in Kansas City Mo on 06-11-56.He was born into a poor German immigrant family of whose origins nothing is known. Very little is known about his early years, except that he showed a tremendous affinity for music while in public school. In those days, public schools still taught cultural values such as music and Frankie took up every instrument in the school band. He studied violin, piano, trombone and flute. Hearing a dance band, he fell in love with the sound of Adolphe Sax’s invention and latched onto a beat up c-melody saxophone which he henceforth played exclusively. His immense musical talent and personal ambition enabled him to pick up this instrument quickly even though it wasn’t very popular at the time and it is doubtful that anyone at the school was able to help him much. He simply learned the intricacies of this instrument much like Bix Beiderbecke learned the cornet largely by himself and Bud Freeman the tenor saxophone. Frankie started playing dances every weekend while in school, learning as he went along. Soon he had developed into a bona fide professional musician and played on that level while still in High School. Other musicians with talent began to listen to him and he began to exert considerable influence on many, amongst them the “father” of all modern saxophonists, Lester “Prez” Young. He formed a group including the great Bix Beiderbecke and pianist Arthur Schutt. With this band, he proceeded to make the by now classic recordings which are the quintessential Chicago Jazz recordings of the 1920’s.
These Trumbauer recordings are the direct precursors to Swing Jazz which made its appearance during the early 1930’s.
He played, usually as leader with the greatest white Jazz men of the era such as Bix Beiderbecke, Adrian Rollini, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Jack Teagarden, one of the few Indians in Jazz and pianist par excellence Arthur Schutt. Paul Whiteman met Beiderbecke through Trumbauer and hired both musicians. Trumbauer’s sound was comparatively “flat”, as opposed to full and round, as became customary later. He was without a doubt the first important saxophone player in Jazz history. His and Bix Beiderbecke’s vibrato-less sound pre-dated West Coast Jazz by a good 35 years. He became inactive in music during the last sixteen years of his life, working for the government in a variety of jobs. On occasion, he would play here or there, but for all intents and purposes he stopped being musically active around 1940.
David van Kriedt.
Born 06-19-22 in Berkeley, California. Stage name of David N. Kriedt. Third generation American of German descent, extremely musical family. Studied reed instruments in High School, becoming one of the most outstanding tenor saxophonists in the San Francisco Bay Area. After High School, he enrolled at Mills College in Oakland in order to study composition and harmony with the great French composer Darius Milhaud.
While being in Milhaud’s master class he met Dave Brubeck who was to become one of the all-time jazz giants in the not too distant future. van Kriedt not only contributed as a saxophone player but also as one of the major arrangers and as composer of contrapuntal themes for the experimental Dave Brubeck Octet. In 1948 he spent time in Paris, playing with Jacques Dieval, expatriate American drummer par excellence Kenny Clark and former Brubeck-Octet member, trumpeter Dick Collins. During the 50’s he toured with the Stan Kenton orchestra and taught French at San Francisco City College. He decided to settle in the Bay Area and remained there for some time, teaching, writing and raising a family. Sometimes in the early 1970’s he packed up and emigrated to Australia where he died sometime in the 1990’s. With his death nearly all of the early Brubeck Octet arrangements and even some of the ‘head’ arrangements Brubeck used with his early Quartets have been lost. He was a fine composer, somewhat conservative insofar as he used counterpoint to an extraordinary degree. The compositions he wrote for the Brubeck Octet are outstanding examples of combining modern harmonics with baroque melodic conception. His abilities as a tenor sax player are shown to good effect in a recording he made with Brubeck in the late 1960’s “Reunion”.
Born in Dec. 1925 in Moravska Ostrave, Czechoslovakia of German parents. Studied violin and piano as a child. His family was disowned, their property was confiscated and they were expelled from Czechoslovakia during the horrible expulsions and mass murders of the ethnic German population in the Sudetenland by the Czechs in 1945. Somehow they survived the horrendous ordeal and arrived in Germany in July 1945. While there (?), (what is more likely is that his hands were damaged by Czechs who had the habit of beating helpless German women and children nearly to death during the horrid expulsions of 1945) Weinkopf injured his hand in an accident, effectively ending his musical career as it had been envisioned heretofore. He had “played around” with reed instruments and knew enough to play the alto saxophone in a pick-up band, performing in American service clubs. He began playing the flute, an instrument on which he achieved a high degree of competence. The reason for his picking the flute was a recording by the Count Basie band on which Frank Wess, the great flautist had been featured.
Weinkopf has in the meantime played with every important German big band, including Erwin Lehn. He was picked by John Lewis to play the feature role on his recording “European Windows”. Weinkopf was a highly acclaimed flute soloist throughout Europe. He free-lanced as a soloist until his retirement.
Author: Gerry Frederics
Edited by: k0nsl (email@example.com)
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