In Memoriam: Albert Mangelsdorff 1928-2005
Albert was a friend of mine. We first met in 1978 at the Weisen Jazz Festival. He became an impromptu member of the Human Arts Ensemble for our performance there that year and we formed a lingering bond.
After 14 years of seeing each other here and there, I called him in 1992 to make the trio recording Dodging Bullets for Black Saint records with pianist Eric Watson. Upon the news of his death I put on the opening track of the album - his composition "The Horn is a Lady - and hauntingly immersed myself in his memory.
We went on to perform many trio concerts and subsequently added drummer Ed Thigpen to the band. We made two more recordings as a quartet - Quartet Afterstorm and Resurrection of a Dormant Soul for Black Saint - and did many more concerts together.
He was a gentle man. We shared a love for birds and spoke of them frequently. His original musicality goes far beyond words and I'm thankful he is amply recorded and I was able to record my projects with him, as these expressions are truly immortal and compelling in an everlasting sense.
It was always a pleasure to be in his presence - personally and musically - and I know his contributions and spirit shall soar evermore.
With memories of peace of love.
Operating across borders and beyond every boundary, Albert was one of the crucial progenitors of the musical emancipation of a continent. With his deep love of the jazz tradition, it is no surprise that a time-tested Afrological notion of the relationship between innovation and introspection undergirded Albert's 1963 reminder to all of Europe that, even with its admiration for American musicians, "First of all, one should express musically one's own personality, one's own conception of jazz. - or, as Erroll Garner declared in an interview, "I don't care how much you love somebody...you should still give yourself a chance to find out what you've got and let that out.
I met Albert Mangelsdorff in New York City in the early '60s. It was at a rehearsal with Attila Zoller and Don Friedman. Albert was in the city to hang out, jam a bit etc. We met again a few years later in Frankfurt where he took us down to "his club to hang out and play. One touching aspect of who Albert was was his involvement in this club. Any night that he was in town, not traveling, he would go down to the club to play. It was his club, in a spiritual sense. And it complemented perfectly his need to play everyday. Albert was a inveterate worker. He practiced and performed daily whenever possible. I was very impressed by this as I have a habit of hanging the bass up for a bit when I get home from touring. But Albert was music, trombone, music, trombone... He was also a very generous and warm human being, his face lighting up with joy whenever we would meet, be it the next morning after a concert or after a lapse of some years when we hadn't met. We performed together off and on for some 30 years and it was always a pleasure. He loved to play music by ear, to play with others. I have little to say about the music itself. The recorded documents he made attest to his quality as a creative musician. But I will say that his habit of working daily on his instrument, especially in the development of his multiphonic playing, can be a lesson to all of us: once you're in the process of discovery and development on your horn, hang in there, it will take you to places and heights you had no idea existed.
Albert, ciao, see you down the road a bit.
FRED VAN HOVE
Albert Mangelsdorff was part of a lot of jazz history: bebop, cool and free. A great musician and a gentle human. The only musician, my wife says, that brought flowers when invited for a meal at our house. We did work together as a duo. My meagre regular jazz period was not so far behind me and reminiscences of it sometimes did appear during free improvisation. One of the jazz tunes I quite liked was Fats Waller's "The Sheik of Araby . The tune came into my fingers during a concert with Albert. Immediately Albert started singing the hilarious German lyrics: "Der Scheich der kommt jetz gleich, jetz gleich da kommt der Scheich , the same phrase repeated over the 32 bars. Translation: "The Sheik is coming soon, soon the Sheik will come. It doesn't matter that some people always link Mangelsdorff with the invention of polyphonics on the trombone, the first was Paul Rutherford... Albert remains a musical monument.