Zoller Konitz Mangelsdorff: ZOKOMA (1968) MPS

Track selection 1In Twighlight (Zoller)

. ..  .

Selection 2: Zores Mores (Mangelsdorff)

.  .  .


Barre Phillips, bass; Atilla Zoller. guitar; Martin, drums; Lee Konitz, alto saxophone; Albert Mangelsdorff, trombone;  engineer Rolf Donner, recorded at MPS Studio, Villingen, Germany, March 13th and 14th, 1968.


Apologies to any American readers, I am afraid you are going to have to get your feet wet; this is European jazz, a lot of which centres around the Cologne scene (that’s the German town not the fragrance), and mixes expatriate Americans with native players. You can put the lederhosen away, its not that sort of music. Oh wear them if you must.

Wolfgang, a German photographer, Zen Buddhist and jazz fan I bumped into in a London record  store convinced me I should seek out Manglesdorff.  The name sounds like it  belongs on a domestic appliance. Mangelsdorff  is a “uniquely expressive player on the trombone, one of the most innovative in modern jazz, famous for his distinctive  multiphonic technique” (Wiki). The trombone was given impetus as a jazz instrument by US army marching bands, a  useful stepping stone to a musical career for many young Americans in the Fifties. Manglesdorff takes the trombone to a higher level.

Konitz is Konitz, the lyrical voice of the alto, a sort of Art Pepper without the prison record , but Attila Zoller is a guitarist not known to me. The guitar seems to me a difficult instrument to fit into jazz, without falling into the well-worn paths of Le Hot Club de France, Grant Green, Charlie Christian, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, and Yngwie Malmstein. Zoller contributes texture and tonal colouring as well as fine lead lines, working in the improvisational team as a full member. Very nice.

Despite initial fears the music would be headbanging simultaneous improvisation; we have a full rhythm section here, songs with beautiful melodies, with some delightful and stretching guest instrumentalists, who produce some delightful deli-jazz. It’s not bop, it is verging on but not free, and for 1968, retains a purity of the jazz legacy lost back home, torn between pursuit of the funky chicken and the pocket-money power of Generation Clearasil.

Vinyl; MPS BAP 5072 (UK press 1976)

Before you say anything, yes, its filthy. It is how they arrive travelling  forty-four years to the present day. Hoover was still fighting the battle against dust. I didn’t have time to put it through the RCM prior to its blog photo, because the MOTH Pro is very very noisy, and Mrs LJC objects to the noise. I wear industrial strength ear defenders on a washing session. Also a reminder to all collectors, vintage vinyl needs a wash. It looks worse than it is. The image process I use to highlight the run out engravings “in situ” doesn’t occur naturally, and at the same time it illuminates the matrix it also highlights dust and scuffs. This is what your stylus is up against, plus the stuff in the groove you can’t see.

Black Forest record pressing plant

Music From the Black Forest 

MPS stands for Musik Produktion Schwartzwald, with BASF/MPS the successor organisation to the “legendary SABA” . SABA are often credited with legendary audio quality. This is self-serving hype, possibly better than a lot of the dross around at the time, but they are not in the top league they like to think they are. Decidedly bland.

LJC “Would You Believe It” Fact:

Each MPS record is actually pressed on virgin Black Forest gateaux, then aged for six months in a gingerbread cottage in the heart of the Black Forest, tended by a friendly ogre, before being smuggled out in picnic baskets ready for final distribution to hungry record collectors. It’s a fact!

This UK pressing was manufactured by Decca  New Malden, Britain’s answer to New Jersey. (Refrain) What did Della wear, boy, what did Dell wear?  She wore a brand New Malden… no it doesn’t scan right….

Source : Ebay  Location; UK

Sellers Description


As sole bidder, either I knew something others did not, or the other way around. Any which way, it’s a delightful piece of music, their loss. While everyone chases the war horses, there are so many lesser known pleasures await those who fish in less frequented waters. This is one of them.


6 thoughts on “Zoller Konitz Mangelsdorff: ZOKOMA (1968) MPS

  1. Among the rarest MPS recordings must be “New Call From France” by Jef Gilson. Practically non-existent in vinyl form, and never re-issued in any format. All I have is a taped radio broadcast from 40 years ago and one stereo track from Youtube which seems to have been cancelled. It’s a shame this fabulous music has been neglected for decades.


  2. Great Music! Congrats to discovering this german Jazz-highlight, there is a lot of music there that’s worth seeking out. This record, as many a MPS/Saba recording, frequently fetches 50 quid or more in Germany. One of Mangelsdorff’s allegedly best sessions is called “one tension”, btw. I also recommend altoist Hans Koller (Austria), pianists Michael Naura and Joachim Kühn and tenorist Klaus Doldinger for a start, if you want to explore. Find more here: http://www.birkajazz.com/archive/germany.htm


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