Franz Koglmann: Viewing Jazz through Other Arts
"O Moon My Pin-Up is not a musical 'judgment' on Ezra Pound; it is neither a condemnation nor an apology. On the contrary, it's a sensitive reflection of the fragile polyphony of speech levels and inflections in Pound's poetry at the time of an existential crisis which is directly connected with the political events surrounding the end of the war."
"A good friend of mine Christian Baier brought this idea to use the Ezra Pound cantata. When I was very young I was interested in lyrics, and in Pound."
AAJ: Pound was also extremely provocative.
FK: Yes. He had, let's say special kind connection to the way of Nazi thinking, not so far away from T.S. Eliot. Baier is a Jew who is very interested in why high-level intellectuals, artists and poets fall with such ideas. This was the idea behind it. He wrote the libretto after Pound's Pisan Cantos. What is funny is that Phil Minton who played Pound looks similar to Pound. It was the first time that I composed for a choir.
AAJ: Were there any furious reactions as to A White Line?
FK: No. Pound is strongly accepted as a poet in spite of his political disposition. Maybe people could not realize what it was about or were not educated enough.
The Beginning of the Between the Lines Label
Koglmann was lucky enough to find a new label that he could develop according to his vision. Not only his musical visionwhich brought to the label open-minded composers such as the American John Lindberg and John Emery, Israeli Yitzhak Yedid, and European such as Oskar Aichinger, Moritz Eggert and Hannes Enzlbergerbut also the aesthetics of its beautiful digipacks, with the graphic art work of Jutta Obenhuber.
"The business manager of Deutsch Structured Finance, Paul Steinhardt, is a great jazz fan, more of intellectual jazz, and especially of my music but I had never met him before. He could not find any new recording of mine for two years. It was after I left HatHut. He found my phone number and called me and said that he like to invite me and my Pipetet to a presentation in his bank in Frankfurt. Ingrid asked him if he is sure, because it's ten to twelve musicians who come from England, Italy and America and it's three days of rehearsals, minimum, and the composition itself costs. He said, don't worry.
"I thought this is nothing. Ingrid made a calculation with a commission and rehearsal price, and he said immediately, yes. After the concert Paul said that he'll found a label. I said, 'don't do it, you can't sell the records.' It's only for few people, but he said that he understood the finances. And so we started Between the Lines, I brought the name. I was paid to be the artistic director. I brought ideas, some came from Paul. For some years we had a lot of money, real good budget. but it's changed now. The distributor Sunny Moon is the owner now, and the head of Sunny Moon, Volker Dueck, is also the management director now.
"Make Believe was my first record for Steinhardt. It is based on Jean Cocteau's novel Les Enfants Terribles. For me it was like meeting an early lover. As Cocteau wrote this book and his opium diary ("Opium: Diary of a Cure") he was listening to Jerome Kern's Show Boat musical. The idea to make musical scenes that combine elements from Show Boat."
"An Affair with Strauss was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the death of Johann Strauss, the Younger. Straussif he is played really well, for instance if conducted by Carlos Kleiberis very erotic, extremely. It's not erotic if it is badly played, for instance with (Herbert von) Karajan, boring. Strauss was a good composer and an interesting figure in the history of music because the Strauss dynasty was the founder of the music business. I asked Tony Coe to write something, and he always asked me if I knew the song 'Good Night Vienna,' an old English song, and I never heard it. So I said maybe you bring it to the Strauss context, so I wrote the arrangement, and in the studio I asked him to sing it."
Inspired by Marylin Monroe
"First I had to deal with her as a historic person in Venus In Transit, that was a complex play by Beverly Blankenship, four or five stories at the same time and four or five composers. I was one of the composers for one of the stories, a completely crazy story about a young guy who breasts after his girlfriend has given him anabolics. I used two of Monroe's songs, and I had to listen to her recordings. I was never interested in these recordings before. She did not have an interesting voice. She was completely imitating a black singer from the '30s, Helen Humes, who recorded with Count Basie. The arrangements were not bad, especially 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy.' We recorded it in America."
AAJ: How was the work with the American musicians?