Jazz Workshop Concert (1962) EMI Germany

With a lot of attention here currently on Blue Note Liberty labels, I thought it would be a good to take a break and dip into some jazz closer to home, Europe, with a record I picked up recently, a dive into another time making great music.

Selection: Eva (George)

. . .

Artists: I’m  not even going to try to retype it:

Hang on to your ümlauts, Ruhrfestspeile, Recklinghausen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, engineer: Wolfgang Hirschmann

Who is Austrian  “Fatty George”, who plays such beautiful, mesmerizing clarinet lines, dancing on air?  One Franz Georg Pressler (1927 – 1982).

Pressler developed the idea of combining  Dixieland with Cool Jazz: influences of Bechet and Konitz shine through, and his band mates  in early days included fellow Austrian Joe Zawinul.

“Fatty” is good with me. No fat-shaming in jazz,  in England we had Brian “Tubby ” Hayes, America had Julian “Cannonball” Adderley,  go Österreich, go extra-wurst!

Leading lights in the workshop  “orchestra” are Friedrich Gulda, eccentric and iconoclastic Austrian pianist and composer who worked in both the classical and jazz fields. In addition to lots of Austrian and Swedish players unknown to me, Abba-jazz, Britain fielded Ronnie Ross on Baritone, USA altoist  Herb Geller, and Belgian harmonica and guitar (heard with Fatty in the selection) of Toots Thielmans.

Music

The European jazz scene in the early ’60s found a lot of talented musicians needing to eat, and the jazz workshop idea brought many to the lunch counter. Greedy bastards. To Austria’s proud musical heritage of Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss, Jazz added Hans Koller, Joe Zawinul, and “Fatty George”. The wurstfresser didn’t get that shape without also putting away a few extra portions of Sachertorte too. Good for him.

The “Jazz Workshop” concept, also favoured by Mingus,  is not simply a big band outing, but leaves the door wide open to a combination of scored ensemble and improvised pieces, with many different voices, something of an art form in itself. This was a time for experimentation, Mingus recorded Jazz Workshops, Hal McKusick and George Russell’s RCA Victor Jazz Workshop outings offer exciting stuff, as well as Don Byrd and GiGi Grice ‘s Jazz Lab. Jazz was an adventure, with space above the collar as well as below the waistline.

As for Fatty George, I hadn’t heard of him before, but I confess a weakness for jazz clarinet, which is often wrongly associated only with old school  players from the big band swing era like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman, not especially ” fashionable”. Phffft. It sounds pretty good here in 1962,  and a force to be reckoned with in the hands of modernists like Eric Dolphy bass clarinet, muscular Buddy de Franco or Jimmy Guiffre’s imaginative canvases.

Beyond the  staple jazz diet of tenor and alto sax, and without the saccharine sound of soprano sax (Mr Gorelick, sorry to interrupt your solo groove climax , but I have your investment broker on the line) clarinet is an instrument that lends itself to delicate flights of musical ideas. It can pierce the upper register, yet resonate in the lower, while inviting tremendous speed in athletic figures and grace notes with an emotional lever in vibrato.   I reckon his waistline gives him extra stability in the woodwind department, “Fatty George” swings like hell.

Vinyl: Columbia Germany

I would draw your attention to the fascinating detail of the performance and musicians in the liner notes, except for the fact they are unsparingly written in only German. One for our German-speaking readers. Anything of note, help us out.

Columbia Germany is not a label I think I have ever seen before. Most of my search enquiries about Columbia Germany likewise came back in German, so I will leave it at that. The Columbia name has been bought and sold countless times, different countries had alternative identities at different times. There are over  128,000 entries on Discogs under the name “Columbia”, and open warfare between editors over the correct identification of the label, especially over EMI Columbia and the Magic Notes symbol, Sample (Discogs thread):

“A few months back, ( NAME REDACTED) went on an edit spree changing quite a few European Columbia and EMI Columbia releases to something he called ‘Columbia Magic Notes’ which seems to be his fairly unique combination of the Columbia label and their tag”

 

“This is stupid and really not intelligent. We must be discophile, and not some stupid people who talk about things they do not know.”

 

“If you start making changes contrary to what has been agreed you will likely find yourself barred…

At the moment you have not, and every other piece of tangible proof offers up a label called Columbia.”

Crikey, I thought Discogs peeps were just happy friendly record lovers.  I have enough on my plate with Division of Liberty typesetting, I’ll butt out.

Collector’s Corner: Time for Time-travel in Europe

I think it was the title “1962” that first attracted me to this album, particularly since I couldn’t understand anything else written on the cover.  That was a good jazz vintage year, which I visit often in my Chronomaster  drophead coupé Time Machine.

1959 remains my favourite destination, though 1963 has a lot going for it if you like your music a little further out. By 1964, hold on tight, expect a bumpy ride, with occasional turbulence from avant-garde or soul jazz  . If you find yourself drifting  towards 1970, drop a cog and speed through jazz rock altogether.

Just remember to fill up the tank before heading for home-time. You don’t want to find yourself stranded in the ’80s!  The Chronomaster carries a survival outfit for such an unlikely event:

“In case of landing in the 1980s, underneath your seat is an emergency spandex metallic outfit,  big hair extensions and a set of platform shoes,  for not attracting attention, while waiting for your Time-Rescue call out. We also carry shoulder pads for ladies. Thank you for time-travelling with Chronomaster.”

Jazz in 60’s Europe revolved around European tours of big American jazz  artists, American jazz artists disillusioned with developments back home, who moved to Europe, and home-grown European jazz players. They all gotta eat.

For European jazz, the Cologne scene was very productive, focussed around Gigi Campi and the Clarke Boland Band alumni such as Johnny Griffin and Sahib Shihab,  and Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (SABA, then MPS label 1968+ ) with studios at Villingen, Schwartzwald. The Jazz Festival timetable included Donaueschingen also in the Black Forest (Archie Shepp) , and Baden-Baden. Where Rhur FestSpeile fitted I had no idea. Whilst listening to Jazz from Europe, I recommend a change from the single malt, may be down a few steins, send out for some smoked sausage with sweet mustard.

In a ’90s interview by the NYT, guitarist Jim Hall summed his  experience touring Europe:

“I really like the people here,” Mr. Hall said. “They are knowledgeable, and after a show they come up to you and ask you questions about things you played when you were 25 years old. There’s a respect here that I like. It just makes you feel good.”

It is not like Europe necessarily produced better players, but over the years, may be Europe produced better listeners.

Having raised a little controversy, I’ll carry on digging into the Blue Note Liberty years. Looks like it might take some time, so I’ll carry on. If you have any thoughts on jazz in Europe, now might be a good time to add them.

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11 thoughts on “Jazz Workshop Concert (1962) EMI Germany

  1. There was a similar title pressed two years later on Philips Germany (and Mercury Holland) in 1964 called International Jazz Workshop. The line-up included the following: Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet – Johnny Scott*
    Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Sahib Shibab*
    Bass – Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
    Drums – Egil Johansen
    Guitar – Pierre Cavalli
    Leader – Hans Koller
    Liner Notes – Hans Gertberg
    Piano, Organ – Ingfried Hoffmann
    Tenor Saxophone – Johnny Griffin
    Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Sopranino Saxophone – Klaus Doldinger
    Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet – Rolf Kühn
    Trombone – Albert Mangelsdorff, Eje Thelin, Åke Persson
    Trombone, Bass Trombone – Nat Peck
    Trumpet – Benny Bailey, Donald Byrd, Jon Eardley
    Trumpet, Alto Saxophone – Idreas Sulieman*
    Trumpet, Mellophone – Johnny Renard

    I believe there were both UK and US pressings on Emarcy. Not my favorite stuff from the Continent during this period, but for those that enjoy these large ensembles this other title should be worth tracking down, as well.

  2. I think I may have said previously that I prefer the jazz of these shores and Europe to most American jazz post 50’s, so this was right up my street, thanks. Pretty sure this is something different from the NDR jazz workshop series, but check those out too (youtube and popsike). We never see them in the UK because the Germans rarely wanted to sell them, and most likely, other Germans would pay more than us usually anyway. Very boring sleeve art, amazing radio station concerts of a high percentage of great Europeans. Even the late 70s ones go for three figures.

  3. Nice detour! And there are more great Columbia Germany jazz records where this one came from. Two of my favourites:
    Albert Mangelsdorff Quintet ‎LP Tension (1963)
    Albert Mangelsdorff Quintet ‎LP Now Jazz Ramwong (1964)
    These were part of an ambitious jazz series that came in gorgious 3-panel gatefolds. Unfortunately it was abandoned after four records only, the other two being “Joki Freund Sextet ‎LP Yogi Jazz” & “Wolfgang Dauner Trio LP Dream Talk”. All sought after advanced hard bop, modal, avant-garde (whatever you want to call it) records on par with Blue Note records of that time (with an European twist). Hey, they even have German & English liner notes. Well worth a listen if you don’t know them yet. Tracks are available on Youtube and the real things are absolutely sonic masterpieces. The first one is available as a beautifully deep mono cut, too (not sure about the second one)).

    • Actually, to be truthful, the Lippmann-produced CBS records have nothing to do with Columbia in Germany (which were a product of EMI/Electrola). CBS and Columbia in the US are one thing, whereas in places like England, Germany, Austria, and Sweden, Columbia was a name licensed to EMI, whereas CBS was an entirely separate entity. I’m not sure about Japan; CBS Sony and Japanese Columbia recordings appear to be from different outfits as well, or at least that seemed to be the case in the 60s and 70s.

      • Although you are probably right and the CBS Germany branch was doing business on their own these records were no longer part of the licencing to EMI UK. These four records use the classic orange “one eye” CBS label that Columbia US used for releasing titles in Europe after 1962. The label of the “Now Jazz Ramwong” label for example says “CBS ist eine Schutzmarke von Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. USA” i.e. CBS is being licenced directly from Columbia USA.
        Apart from that the records seem to have been planned and produced mainly for the European market. In the US “Now Jazz Ramwong” was released by Pacific Jazz Records when they were already part of Liberty Records. So, not sure why Columbia US did not pick this one or if they were even aware of it. Roaming Dicogs I notice that Tiger Bay is bringout a re-release of “Now Jaz Ramwong” just now in 2018. So, really not reason for not picking it up and giving it a try!

  4. see, i’ve never really enjoyed clarinet very much. BASS clarinet, on the other hand, is one fo my very favorite sounds. weird, i know.

    • I think your sentiments about bass clarinet are more widely shared than you may think. That wonderfully goofy sound, with its pops, clicks, and moans – fantastic stuff. Aside from Eric Dolphy, my personal favorites are Bennie Maupin and David Murray. Check out Murray’s “Ballads for Bass Clarinet” (DIW -880).

  5. From what I’ve read, jazz has always been taken more seriously in Europe than here in America. According to Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond, it had something to do with the fact that during the WWII years and the immediate aftermath, jazz was forbidden and a punishable offense if played, so the Europeans grew to appreciate it and what it stood for a lot more than most. Willis Connover’s ‘Voice of America’ helped bring jazz to Europe as well, helping the cause. To look at it from another angle, most of the bootleg recordings of the Dave Brubeck Quartet seem to come from Europe, not America, which to me says that his music was valued to the point of people taping him for their own enjoyment.

    Also, another jazz clarinetist worth checking out- Bill Smith. Wild in the 40’s, tamer in the 50’s, wild in the 60’s, ;alkfj; in the 80’s and beyond.

  6. Very enjoyable break from Blue Note Liberty minutiae! Whenever I think if the German Jazz scene I cannot help but think back to Jutta Hipp “At The Hickory House” (I envy those lucky collectors who have these 1956 recordings). Jutta Hipp and the German Jazz musicians are very special because they carried the torch for Jazz during the very dark times of Nazi Germany when Jazz was underground and one could be arrested for participation. Jutta Hipp avoided the post WWII Russian occupation by moving to Munich and playing for American solders. She was discovered by Leonard Feather and later slipped into obscurity. A fascinating story of a German Jazz musician who moved to the USA. Equally fascinating (and sad) is the fact that many African American Jazz musicians sought happiness by leaving 1950s USA and taking their talent to Europe where they found great support as well as respect from fellow Jazz musicians and enthusiasts.

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