Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, probably the most important jazz musician in post- war Germany, died on the morning of Monday, July 25th, 2005 in his hometown Frankfurt am Main, Germany, after long illness.
Albert Mangelsdorff had violin lessons as a child and was self-taught on guitar. His brother, alto saxophonist Emil Mangelsdorff (who is still alive and playing at age 80), introduced him to jazz. After working as a guitarist Mangelsdorff took up trombone in 1948. In the 1950s Mangelsdorff played with the bands of Joe Klimm (1950-53), Hans Koller (1953-54), with the radio orchestra of Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt (1955- 57) as well as with the Frankfurt All Stars (1955-56). At the same time he led a hardbop quintet together with Joki Freund. In 1958 he became musical director of the newly founded Jazz-Ensemble des Hessischen Rundfunks and represented Germany in Marshall Brown's International Youth Band appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival. In 1961 he formed a quintet with Heinz Sauer, Günter Kronberg, Günter Lenz and Ralf Hübner which became one of the most celebrated European bands of the 1960s.
During this time he also recorded with John Lewis (Animal Dance, 1962). After touring Asia on behalf of the Goethe Institut in 1964 he recorded the album New Jazz Ramwong" later that year which made use of Eastern themes. He also toured the USA and South America with the quintet, which was reduced to a quartet (1969-71) after Kronberg left, then revived with Sauer, Gerd Dudek, Buschi Niebergall and Peter Giger (1973-76). At a festival during the Olympic Games in Munich Mangelsdorff first performed as unaccompanied soloist in 1972 which resulted in many solo tours and recordings during the next decades. In the 1970s he recorded with Palle Danielsson and Elvin Jones (1975), Jaco Pastorius and Alphonse Mouson (1976), John Surman, Barre Phillips and Stu Martin (1977) and others. He participated in Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra (from 1967 into the 1980s), Free Sound & Super Brass (1975-76) led by Hans Koller and Wolfgang Dauner, the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble from its formation in 1975, and recorded duo albums with Wolfgang Dauner (from 1981). In the 1980s and 1990s Mangelsdorff continued to perform in solo and duo and trio settings, also playing with the Reto Weber Percussion Ensemble. In the 1970s Mangelsdorff was a leading figure in the Union Deutscher Jazzmusiker and, together with Jean-François Jenny-Clark, led the German-French Jazz Ensemble. In 1995 he became musical director for the JazzFest Berlin. Since 1994 the Union Deutscher Jazzmusiker awards a regular prize in Mangelsdorff's honor, the Albert- Mangelsdorff-Preis.
Mangelsdorff was one of the finest trombonists in modern jazz. Like most German musicians he was at first influenced by the cool jazz idiom of Lee Konitz and Lennie Tristano, then played hard bop, later introduced modal means of improvisation, free jazz and jazz-rock elements in his music. His playing was characterized by wide- ranging melodic lines. He had an imposing technique and was, among trombonists, the most innovative player of multiphonics note, for instance his playing of the theme of Duke Ellington's Mood Indigo" in three-part harmony on the album The Wide Point, 1975, MPS, or many of his improvisations on the LP Trombirds, 1972.
Mangelsdorff life story is told in a biography by Bruno Paulot published in 1993. The story of the vivid Frankfurt jazz scene from which he emerged has been written last year in the book Der Frankfurt Sound. Eine Stadt und ihre Jazzgeschichte(n)", written by Juergen Schwab and co-published by the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt, the city of Frankfurt and Hessischer Rundfunk (Mangelsdorff was present at the book presentation last summer).
~ Wolfram Knauer - Jazz-Institut Darmstadt