In Memoriam: Albert Mangelsdorff 1928-2005
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.
I met Albert for the first time in 1957 in Basle, no single words were exchanged, only play and that particular look from Albert. In the meantime I have learned that in the first look the future can be read and so was it with Albert. His look said, I trust you, lets play together und do the best you can, my friend. Since then and more than 40 years, it stayed right there. I always felt that deep friendship between us, about which we never talked, as it usual for real friendship. We have never talked much but we have played und we trusted each other.
Albert was a master, he loved the music, he was always real. His generosity, his deep understanding for the music as a whole, never suffering of any feeling of pretention. He has like no other musician I know looked at the drums as a musical instrument and the drummer as a full musical partner and this in his very natural reactions and behaviour. I believe he didn't even know that, he really was just like that. I can't remember that Albert in all these years of playing would ever have interupted myself while soloing, just on the opposite, he has always followed the discourse of any of his musicians with his particularly attentive ear. And if he ever intervened, it was always to help and never to pull the attention on himself.
He was always dedicated to the music, he was a "real great" and like the rare real great musicians a very modest person.