on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2014 25 Aug

A long, long time ago …

von: Jan Reetze Filed under: Blog | TB | 2 Comments

Who would ever come up with such an idea to team up the Gary Burton Quintet of 1975 with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff? The Gary Burton Quintet (the master himself (vib), Mick Goodrick (g), Pat Metheny (12-string g), Steve Swallow (b) und Bob Moses (dr) had just recorded a relatively smooth album with Carla Bley compositions (Dreams So Real, ECM 1042), Mangelsdorff’s latest recording had been The Wide Point (1974, MPS 15396, with Palle Danielsson and Elvin Jones) – his Birds Of Underground had just been two years ago, and The Wide Point still showed many traces to this very free album. In short, Burton and Mangelsdorff in 1975 represented two very different worlds of sound.

NDR jazz head Michael Naura was the one who could come up with such an idea. And he had the opportunity to let it happen. The concert took place as the 114th NDR Jazzworkshop on December 9, 1975, in the legendary Studio 10 at the Oberstraße. I had a seat in the first row then. Now – thanks to M.E.! – I was just able to listen to the complete recording again.

As far as it’s possible to find out today, none of the quintet musicians had ever played with Mangelsdorff. In fact, Mangelsdorff is mentioned only once in Burton’s biography. So this thing was not without risk, it could have gone badly wrong.

But Naura always had a nose for things that might work. And he was right again. In the first half of the concert, only the Gary Burton Quintet played; one composition by Michael Gibbs (in 1974, Burton had recorded a whole album with compositions by him, Seven Songs For Quartet And Chamber Orchestra with members of the NDR Symphony Orchestra) and some stuff from Dreams So Real. Then, in the second half, Albert Mangelsdorff joined for compositions by Steve Swallow, Eberhard Weber, Carla Bley, again Michael Gibbs and – of course – Albert Mangelsdorff. It was adventurous to hear (and see) the communication between the musicians grow. The percussive-metallic sounding band on the one hand and the unmistakable sound of Mangelsdorff’s trombone approached each other, checked out each other, played with each other and finally found each other.

This concert took place nearly 40 years ago, and as far as I can see, Mangelsdorff and Burton never met again on stage or in a studio. So this recording is a unique document, and it stood the test of time. The tapes are still in good condition, and part two of the concert is just enough to fill a CD, so this would be a good opportunity to release it – anybody out there willing to do that?

For me this night in December 1975 was a sort of epiphany in jazz. Another one had been Terje Rypdal and his band at the Fabrik in Hamburg in summer of the same year; also an event the NDR was involved in. 1975 must have been a good year, at least musically, when the NDR was the #1 address in jazz in Northern Germany …

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  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Strange coincidence: Manafonista Jochen saw the Gary Burton quintet in December 75 in Hannover or Bremen, and Manafonista Michael saw the same quintet in December 75 in the theatre of Aschaffenburg. Wouldn’t be no surprise, if Manafonista Gregor had been driving the tour bus in those winter days …

  2. Jochen:

    To be honest: war wohl doch nicht dort, verwechselte es mit einem Dave Holland Konzert auf dem Bremer Marktplatz direkt vor der Bürgerschaft. Ebenfalls im Publikum: die 4 Stadtmusikanten. („Etwas Besseres als den Tod findest du überall …“)

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