OntmetaB0. Knauer 2019
Play Yourself, Man!: A History of Jazz in Germany 🇩🇪 by Wolfram Knauer
Table of Contents
Spirituals in the Empire
An American Army Band in Europe
Colonialism, Exotism and the Fisk Jubilee Singers
First Afro-American Recordings in Europe
The Triumph of Jazz Begins
The Fear of Black People
Jazz: Dance or Music?
"There is an extraordinary clarinetist in the Southern Syncopated Orchestra . . . "
The Jazz Age in the Weimar Republic
Job description "Jazz musician"?
Painting by Numbers: Learning from Sheet Music
The Beginnings of the Record Industry
The Roaring Twenties
The Jazz Age
Where to in Berlin?
Between Charleston and Haller-Revue Revue N4re: "You play without a conductor"
"Ladies' bands" in the Weimar jazz republic
They write about jazz Paul Whiteman in Germany
The first jazz class and the music echo
Jazz on the classical stage
The dance to the great crash
Some of These Days
The hatred becomes louder
First measures against jazz sbbr "Goody Goody"
Brief cosmopolitanism: Olympia
What is jazz in Nazi Germany?
From "White Jazz" to "Delphi Fox"
Jammin' with the Golden Seven
Court Concert in the Secret Annex
Alternative youth culture
Swing on behalf of the Führer
"The drum and its rhythm"
The Ghetto Swingers: Jewish Musicians in Germany and Jazz in the Concentration Camp
Zero Hour - A new departure and reorganization of the jazz scene after 1945
The big band continues to play . . .
Musical fraternization: Jazz in the American GI clubs
Vom Leben als Kellerassel
"The Key" to Jazz Berlin
Dixie Munich Jump
The Defense of Jazz
Learning by Doing
Bebop in the Living Room
The German All Stars
Hipp Jazz in Kollerland
A Night in Hanover
Salute to Lars Gullin
European Jazz Sounds
The radio as initiator service The radio big bands
No secret science: Jazz at the university service The foundations of the (West) German jazz scene have been laid
The jazz ensemble of the Hessian radio
"From here on," German jazz?
Picking up the folk song
CBS goes German Jazz
The record industry is getting curious
West German jazz is playing freely served Heartplants
Jazzin 'the Black Forest
Eternal Rhythm in Woodstock
Swinging Oil Drops!
Between Free Action and United Jazz
Rock Passport to success
A Machine Gun for Adolphe Sax
"Hanse- and Barber City"
Hamburg Photo credits
Bremen Town Musicians
Notes on discography and literature
Musterländle, Bavaria, Ruhrgebiet
Books on jazz in Germany and jazz on the island used for this book
Sources Between the Worlds Magazines
An ordered house . . .
Register Auf ins 21. Century
The wall falls
The game with tradition
A country is doing away with Old structures - new structures
From the roots of current jazz
The fascination of the "song"
The fascination of the complex
The fascination of the sound
The fascination of the virtuoso
The fascination of international jazz is becoming more diverse, feminine, queer
My way to jazz - a personal epilogue thanks
This book tells the history of jazz in Germany, from the beginning of its reception to the most recent discourses it has spawned. It is based on research on the music and its protagonists, which have been on my mind for decades, at least since I started working for the Darmstadt Jazz Institute, which collects many documents on German jazz history and houses the largest jazz archive in Europe. The book is intended to offer an objective view of a partial aspect of German music history, but, like every book, is of course also based on the subjective selection and perspective of the author. I have tried to contrast my own perspective with that of others, such as those of contemporaries such as musicians, those of jazz criticism or the feature pages, and to write with the knowledge that not only jazz fans have a right to their opinion, but that also who suspect this music are part of the discourse. My concern is to tell the history of jazz reception in this country along the lines of the documented music. I've heard a lot and tried to use the music to address the relevant questions more artistically
offers. One question that bothered me particularly while working on the book was why this music could evoke such strong emotional reactions in this country, both for and against jazz. In order to get to the bottom of this question, I will talk about recordings in which the enthusiasm of the musicians is clearly noticeable, but also about those that, from today's point of view and in comparison with American recordings from the same period, are rather good, honest, rhythmic , melodic or harmonic are not very exciting. I had to learn myself to take such examples seriously as evidence of a contemporary taste in music that did not necessarily have direct comparison in mind. Extreme stereotypes, such as the fact that German rhythm groups couldn't swing or - at the other end of the spectrum - that outstanding soloists were "just as good" as their American colleagues, just remain on the surface of how musical decisions are really made. I saw it as my task first of all to hear the music as a testimony that stands for itself, and wherever I had a clear aesthetic attitude from the perspective of the present, to ask myself what other perspectives are still possible.
changed in recent years. And yet, even where the activities of female musicians are not documented, one should always take them into account. In the early days of jazz there were instrumentalists on the stage in Germany as well. The Nazis put women back "at the stove" and thereby influenced a role model that was only gradually broken up again by the women's movement of the 1960s. Until well into the 1970s, jazz remained an affair of men’s alliance, in which women only appeared in the audience, but were not accepted as collectors, let alone as serious instrumentalists. That began to change in the mid-1970s, when musicians from the circle around Irene Schweizer and Jolle Leandre approached music with feminist self-confidence and more and more younger artists began to study the few well-known role models, be it American instrumentalists like Mary Lou Williams and Melba Liston or European ones like Barbara Thompson and Marilyn Mazur. Above all, however, they looked to Jutta Hipp, who had already proven in the early 1950s that a musician could be taken seriously as a woman at the instrument even without the "exotic bonus."
Trumpeters, trombonists, double bass players, percussionists, not to mention unusual instruments (tuba, recorder, theremin, harp). In the clubs and at festivals this reality seems natural today, but you realize how much there is still to be done when you consider that there were only three musicians in the ARD big bands in 2018 and that only in the same year with the drummer Eva Klesse became the first female instrumentalist to be appointed professor at a German music college. The selection of musicians and recordings, along which I will tell the history of jazz in Germany in the following, tries to be representative on the one hand, but is anything but exhaustive on the other. I had to make choices for each phase of jazz development. From the temporal distance one can to some extent judge what was important and what influenced the music up to the 1970s, but this selection becomes all the more difficult the closer the narrative comes to the present. Ultimately, my selection here, as elsewhere in the book, is on the one hand subjective, on the other hand only exemplary for artistic developments and aesthetic decisions in German jazz. I could have chosen other artists, other recordings, and I specifically invite you to do so
to the world with the request to develop it further productively, to be always aware of one's own roots, but never to forget its origin, that celebration of community, community, resistance, respect and individuality that jazz accompanies the civil rights movement made in the USA as well as in the hope of freedom-loving fans in dictatorships and totalitarian societies. Since perspective is important to me, at the end of this book I will describe how I came to jazz myself. For you, dear reader, this music will mean partly the same thing, partly something completely different. Each and every one of you brings your own musical socialization, your own listening preferences, but especially your own memories of concerts or recordings that particularly impressed you. They all have their own perspective, and my hope is that you will bring them into your reading of this book, that you will be inspired by my presentation to abstract from your own experience for the moment and the music you love or that you are simply interested in seeing from a different perspective.
Spirituals in the Empire
The history books know a date of birth of jazz. On February 26, 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded two tracks for the Victor Talking Machine Company, Livery Stable Blues and Dixie Jazz Band One Step. The tracks were pressed and came onto the market on March 7, 1917: the first jazz record. The year 1917 went down in the annals as the year of the birth of jazz. But of course it's not that simple. A genre doesn't just come about because a band goes into a recording studio and makes a record. Musical styles emerged over many decades, are the result of a musical discourse that is often not even negotiated in public, but in a far less documented public. Jazz had developed in the American southern states at the beginning of the 20th century as music for ensembles that took up the musical fashions of the time, the blues form, ragtime, the hymns of the black church, the mazurka, schot-
The audience was carried away and was so very different from the moderate dance music that was usually heard, the slow waltzes and quadrilles that were danced at the balls of the southern nobility and that were imitated far more crudely and archaically by other social classes. From the beginning, jazz had been lower class music, black music in the deepest, racist and oppressive southern United States. He had absorbed the chants of the slaves from the cotton fields and the plaintive-hoping spirituals of the black church, the field hollers and the street vendors' songs. The musicians had big ears from the first days of jazz, listening to the remnants of African rituals and the Protestant hymns, the Irish jigs and the Scottish reels, the singing of the German male choirs and the rehearsals of the French opera. Did jazz exist before 1917? Of course! In New Orleans or in Charleston, South Carolina, in the big cities of the southern states, on the post-slavery plantations, music was playing all along the Mississippi. There were singers who sang in ballads of life and death, of love and of profound hopelessness. There were virtuosos on a wide variety of instruments, guitar, banjo, fiddle
the musician often sounded rougher and more archaic. There were ragtime pianists who mostly also wrote their own pieces and were thus the first composers of a genre that was more and more perceived as Afro-American. The fact that before the Original Dixieland Jazz Band little was recorded of the music that was playing in the south does not mean that there was nothing there. There are recordings of black ensembles as early as 1913 and 1914, which clearly convey that the sound of later jazz could also be very different from that offered by the original Dixieland Jazz Band; well arranged, with impulsive heckling and apparently already with space for group improvisations, even if these are seldom heard on the recordings. So jazz didn't come into being in 1917, and it wasn't unique to New Orleans. But around 1917 it was perceived in the USA and quickly far beyond as music that had an enormous emotional impact, that was young, possessed strength and energy, that seemed to get the turmoil and hustle and bustle of the new century under control, without dissolving them. And that brings us to an aspect that goes far beyond jazz. In Afro-American culture, the
felt. The great misunderstanding of jazz, which was to function as one of the most creative musical forces of the 20th century, began with the first official recording. Because where jazz had very clear community functions in its home environment, it was primarily perceived as fashion in New York, Chicago, Boston and the other big cities, in which these records quickly spread, as a trend devoid of any social task, as a product of the new entertainment industry that was accessible to everyone, across all classes and classes. From the beginning, the dancers and the buyers of the records not only listened to the music, but also very different hopes that they could interpret into this music.
An American army chapel in Europe
So the year is 1917. The first jazz record was released on March 7th, and the United States entered World War I on April 6th. In Europe this "Great War" had already claimed tens of thousands of lives and dragged entire countries into crisis. This war took on a new dimension. It was not fought at the green table or in limited battle areas. It was so rampant and with the new weapons of war so devastating that every man and woman was affected, that entire countries had to ask themselves whether they existed. If states want to and are able to destroy themselves so completely, what is the value of all cultural achievements that have arisen over centuries and that, in addition to relaxation, always serve a social balance? On December 25, 1917, the United States' 15th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the 185th Brigade and sent to France. The soldiers were assigned to do simple work, not combat. On March 1, 1918, the regiment was renamed the 369th Infantry Regiment, and on April 8 it was assigned to the French Army. The work soldiers received weapons
Afro-American soldiers passed. The American army command had not let them fight because most of the white soldiers did not want black comrades next to them. The assignment to the French army was made for the same reasons. When the 369th Infantry Regiment returned to New York in February 1919, the Harlem Hellfighters, as they were now called, were celebrated with a grand parade. The soldiers had received a number of medals, some from the American government, but most from the French government. The Harlem Hellfighters continued to represent the divided politics of the United States, in which black officers and soldiers in Europe fought for freedom and for their country, but had to bow to everyday racism at home and even within the army. The Harlem Hellfighters owned a marching band. The black band leader James Reese Europe founded the Clef Club in New York in 1910, a kind of advocacy group for Afro-Americans in the music business. He was successful, organized a concert by the Clef Club Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1912 and recorded records in 1913 and 1914 that did not correspond to the jazz of the original Dixieland Jazz Band, but certainly breathed the spirit of jazz. When the 15th Infantry Regiment was rounded off in 1916, Europe
2 A national appeal followed, and when the soldiers set foot on French soil on New Year's Day 1918, music soldiers were among the 2,000 men in the regiment who gave a concert in Nantes on February 12, 1918, on Lincoln's birthday. They played marches and easy classical overtures. Singer Noble Sissle played the violin and drummed in the band, and he described how this concert in Nantes captivated the French audience. "The second part of the concert," he writes, "began with John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever", followed by an arrangement with "Plantation Melodies", and finally the rousing "Memphis Blues". Soon the musicians followed the example of their conductor, abandoned the military stance, closed their eyes and played as much as they could. “The cornetists and clarinetists began manipulating the notes in this typical rhythm (the rhythm that no artist could ever put on paper) while the drummers put on a beat that made their shoulders shrug in time with the syncopated beats. Then the whole audience began to vibrate, worthy French officers bobbed their feet, even the American admiral forgot all style and decency for a moment. [...] The audience could no longer contain themselves, the jazz "virus" had caught them and it seemed to be taking possession of them
James Reese Europe's Hellfighters play for wounded soldiers in a Paris hospital (1918).
In September the 369th regiment took part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, in which more than 150 of its soldiers were killed. Europe and his band had meanwhile been ordered to Paris and were playing all over France for the next few months, in front of American,
Until this Great War, Europe had seen itself as the center of the world. The war and its destructive power changed the 20th century. It showed that even the most powerful countries had weaknesses, that resistance could succeed, and that there were alternatives to the traditional order. Germany, which had lost the war, was encouraged to become a republic and to pay reparations. There was a revolution in Russia. Rebellions in the colonies increased. Everywhere one recognized the change that stopped at nothing, not before the powerful, not before the established structures. The old world order seemed to be dismantling itself. And in the midst of the actual and perceived chaos, jazz seemed like a kind of hope, because here there was order in what appeared to be a mess, and here the individual voice could contribute to the coherent whole.
first the music. His description so aptly sums up the fascinating exoticism, the simultaneity of enthusiasm and alienation, that one simply has to quote them coherently. “The fat man who operates these instruments is the spirit, the good spirit of the jazz band. He by no means serves them all at once. Sometimes he takes this, he sometimes takes that. He has a whole table with instruments, and if those aren't enough, there are still some hanging on the wall. The piano and the violins also play to a certain extent—to put it mildly: un-European. But the fat man surpasses them all. First he gurgles a rather independent bass melody on a bassoon-like horn, without worrying much about what the others are actually playing. But then he thinks that this is where a flute would be better suited, and he puts down his horn and plays the flute a little. Or he rings the triangle. He always knows what is needed and always gives the music what it is still missing: a little hum, a scream, a shrill, a sharp flute melody or a series of dark gong strikes. And if he wants to do the rest, he sits down next to the man at the piano, who already plays almost four hands for himself, and plays something he thinks fits, maybe a chromatic scale. I don't know what a chromatic
such jazz bands exist to beware of." And he adds a paragraph about the effect of jazz, which explains both the fascination of the people and the rejection by the establishment: “And jazz has another nice quality. He's so completely undignified. He beats every approach of dignity, of correct posture, of dashing, of stand-up collar in the ground. Anyone who is afraid of being ridiculous cannot dance it. The German head teacher cannot dance it. The Prussian reserve officer cannot dance it. If only all ministers and privy councilors and professors and politicians were obliged to dance jazz in public at times! How happily they would be stripped of all their dignity! How human, how nice, how funny they should be! No haze of stupidity, vanity and dignity could arise. If the emperor had danced jazz—none of this would have happened! But alas! he would never have learned. To be German Kaiser is easier than to dance jazz.”25 In Koebner's richly illustrated book, which, as I said, deals primarily with jazz as dance, the new steps are dealt with, foxtrot and paso doble, tango, One-step and shimmy. The band's co-authors have a hard time with the music. Jaap Kool tells how he met a black woman with five at the 1910 World Exhibition in Brussels
Kurt Tucholsky, too, took much of his musical experiences with this music from the Luna-Parks, emphasizes (under the pseudonym Peter Panter) the role of the "drums hammering against the beat in syncopation"26 and understands only too well that "Central Europeans use common sense, who are hearing a jazz band for the first time, cannot listen to this without a slight shower and an increasing onset of hair." Tucholsky knows about racism in the country and describes how difficult it is in Germany "to put the word 'negro' in your mouth without people shouting 'black shame'."27 And he meets them Prejudice by declaring that this music comes from American, not from French blacks, who did not master this rhythm at all. He thinks that the jazz bands of the present "underline everyday life."28
"There is an extraordinary clarinetist in the Southern Syncopated Orchestra . . ."
There is, and should not be ignored, at this point a more far-sighted reflection on early jazz, in which the music was perceived not only as a fashion dance, not only as strange, stirring rhythms, as confused background noise, but also where the author was the artistic quality and somehow also recognized the opportunities that jazz as one—and this phenomenon is described for the first time—improvised music offered itself to the European music scene, which was disrupted in discussions about harmonic or formal innovations. We are talking about the legendary essay that the Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet wrote in Revue Romande in October 1919 about a concert by the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, an Afro-American concert ensemble with 27 musicians and 19 singers, written by the composer Will Marion Cook and that could be heard in various line-ups between 1919 and 1921 in Europe. The most notable paragraph of this review reads: “The Southern Syncopated Orchestra has an extraordinary clarinetist who, in my opinion, is the first of his breed, the clarinet blues player
great artist, whom I will at least not forget: Sidney Bechet.” At the end of his article, Ansermet sums up the current discourse in which one is still trying to “rediscover the great figures in music history.” And he suspects that Bechet, who, quite unmolested by this discussion, simply wants to 'go his own way,' 'follow his own voice, may have made the right decision.' One might think that this 'own way' perhaps one day it will be the great route that the world of tomorrow will take.29 How can the contemporary witness reports about Germany's first encounters with jazz be summarized? What exactly it was—a dance, a passing fad, a new art form—nobody knew exactly. People knew about the Afro-American origins of music, about the coming together of European and African elements, but mostly couldn't even distinguish between Afro-American and African. The record industry, which hardly existed at the time, reacted primarily to the success of the fashion movement and pressed recordings that were to be used for dancing. A jazz band was identified as whatever either a black musician or a sleep on them
Europe, but it seemed to them less pronounced, degrading and deadly than in the United States. In addition, American artists had conquered the vaudeville scene for a while; So there was also a market for that music that fluctuated somewhere between rag-time, blues songs, revue hits and improvisation, but which was only sold as "jazz" everywhere. The New York drummer Louis Mitchell had already come to Europe in 1915 and won numerous fans in England. In 1918 his septet, which he called Seven Spades, performed at the Olympia in Paris for a month. Mitchell began a solo career, for which he put together changing bands with French musicians under the name of Mitchell's Jazz Kings. In 1919 Mitchell returned to New York, but only to look for musicians for a future Afro-American band, with whom he had great success in Paris from July. From 1921 they recorded their first records for the French Path & -. Label, which sounded completely different from what the original Dixieland Jazz Band had produced four years earlier. Not only was the way jazz sounded like it wasn't standardized at the time; Like other American bands in Europe, Mitchell and his musicians sooner or later lost touch with the latest American developments. The Jazz Kings also developed their style further than
his own nightclub Chez Mitchell or in the Music Box, which he opened with the singer Ada "Bricktop" Smith in 1924. Here and a little later, with other musicians as the trigger, also in Berlin, contemporary composers of classical European tradition began to grapple with jazz as a new timbre.
The jazz age in the Weimar Republic
Quite a few musicians of the Southern Syncopated Orchestra left the orchestra because they found profitable engagements in London, Paris and elsewhere. For all of them, as for other Afro-American artists, the trip to Europe was a unique experience that was characterized by good earning potential, but even more by an appreciation of their art that they did not know from their homeland, far from that for black artists not to mention less momentous racism. The band's management filled the gaps in the orchestra with black musicians, regardless of whether they came from the USA, the Caribbean or Africa. In October 1921, nine members of the sso were killed in a shipwreck off the Scottish coast. Sidney Bechet, whom Ernest Ansermet had highlighted in his essay and who added the soprano saxophone to his instruments in London in 1920 in addition to the clarinet, returned to the USA in 1921, but was back in Europe as early as 1925. Because of the lack of a language barrier, London was the most important
entered, started around the middle of the decade and finally made Berlin another, if not the most important center of the European entertainment industry. In fact, the next big tour of an Afro-American orchestra with the revue Chocolate Kiddies in 1925 began right here, in Berlin. From then on, the German capital, like Paris and London, was a metropolis for Afro-American music and show business. There were clubs, theaters and ballrooms, and there were countless bands and orchestras whose musicians made good living. From 1925 it was also worthwhile for American musicians to settle in Berlin and include the various German theaters in their tour planning. But what was the idea of jazz in Germany? And how did this differ from that which prevailed in Paris or London? How did the art scene react, how did the audience react, how did other musicians react, like the guardians of public morality and decency? What forms did fascination and reservations about jazz take? And where exactly did they originate? Job description »jazz musician«?
At the beginning of the 1920s, nobody in this country described himself as a jazz musician - musicians would only give themselves this job title after 1945. For many of the artists associated with it, jazz was not even the focus of their work, but was just one of several genres that they served. Dance, revue, and light music were played, and the difference between these three musical worlds was little. Even in operettas, which were a kind of bow to popular taste, jazz tones were heard, for example in Ralph Benatzky's Im Weißen Rössl. Very different life paths led to jazz. The pianist Helmuth Wernicke (born 1909), for example, earned his living as a teenager in the 1920s as a silent film pianist in Berlin, through which he came into contact with dance and jazz musicians. Others came from classical music, for example Ludwig Rüth (born 1889), who trained as a classical flautist and conductor and had conducted symphonic orchestras before his career in jazz and dance music. In any case, very few musicians who discovered jazz for themselves in the 1920s did so purposefully. Jazz musician was not a career option for a music student at the time. Many found over
Pop singers, revues or operettas who did not only use string ensembles.31 The Austrian trumpeter Fred Clement (born 1902) lived in Berlin from 1926 to 1932 and remembers that every average talented musician had a lot of money there in those years can earn. Clement was in demand and was used in many ways. “You played where. Then a call came for a new engagement. The engagement was over. Hello! Goodbye! The next engagement has come. Little attention was paid to the details of who played with you or where before or after. «32 So the Berlin scene was big and lively. There were musicians like sand on the sea, some of whom had permanent engagements in bands, some of whom got together on individual projects on a freelance basis. Places like the Romanisches Cafe or the Cafe Zitemann near the Gedächtniskirche functioned as a kind of music exchange: you went there when you didn't have a gig and found a new engagement in a very short time. In addition to concerts and dance music, studio work was also profitable for good musicians. Fred Clement reports: “The shifts were mostly during the day, mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and afternoons between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The fee we received was 50 Reichsmarks a day, which was a lot of money back then after the inflation. «33 he had no idea, but he liked to write sheet music and, thanks to his perfect pitch, could easily transcribe arrangements of records. The European light music scene was international in these years, and so Haentzschel played in The Hague with a band under the direction of the drummer Henk Schoep (who called himself Harry Shibb) with two American wind players, performed in Paris with a tango orchestra or accompanied in Berlin Cabaret evenings. [End of Sample]
Learning by Doing
Members of the American armed forces had also been active in the local jazz scene from the early post-war days. In the December 1945 issue of Jazz Club News, Horst Lippmann reports that the Frankfurt Hot Club also had a few Americans among its members - including Don McLean, a sergeant who played the piano in the style of Nat King Cole, and Leland "Sam" Ledgerwood , an alto saxophonist who was influenced by Charlie Barnet. McLean and Ledgerwood had their own band in the Army that made music in the style of the John Kirby Orchestra. The other members of this line-up, however, according to Lippmann, had already returned to the United States at the time of his report, so that the two musicians only had one drummer. ' Many German musicians who grew up in the American occupied zone in the 1940s and 1950s have memories of such meetings with US colleagues, and most of them confirm that the experience of playing with American musicians . . .