It is often difficult to present comprehensive career overviews on musicians given most's peripatetic label representation. Legendary German trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff however enjoyed a remarkably fruitful relationship with the MPS label from 1968 to 1982, resulting in over a dozen albums under his sole or co-leadership. Universal has revived the label's catalogue and done wonderful justice to the output of one of Germany's most revered musicians. A two-disc set, Solo
, collects three unaccompanied sessions while Live
combines the 1976 and 1980 concert recordings Trilogue
and Live in Montreux
But most impressive is the two volumes of Originals
. 10 CDs present an exhaustive overview of Mangelsdorff's unique oeuvre in many different settings, functioning as both a personal retrospective and a larger reflection on European jazz at the time.
Mangelsdorff began his career in the early '50s in the groups of Hans Koller and Joki Freund, making an appearance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival as part of the "International Youth Band" (at 30!). His first records were in the vein of traditional American jazz until a remarkable three-album period (1963-67) on German CBS with his quintet. He followed that up with his MPS debut, the cleverly-titled ZoKoMa
, with guitarist Attila Zoller and saxophonist Lee Konitz. That album is the first disc in Vol. 1
, nine originals written by the frontline, some of the first players to have worked in both the straight-ahead and avant-garde worlds. Next is the atypical Wild Goose
, his quintet augmented by brother Emil (alto sax and flute) and Freund (tenor and soprano), all backing the British folk duo of Colin Wilkie and Shirley Hart on four of the former's originals and three traditional folk songs. Never Let It End
, one of the most important albums in the European jazz canon, is the third disc in this set, Mangelsdorff's quintet pared down to a mighty foursomesaxophonist Heinz Sauer, bassist Günter Lenz and drummer Ralf Hübnerfor seven originals by everyone but Lenz. This document, apart from its fantastic playing and composing, such as the "Flamenco Sketches"-inspired title track, is also the final, perfect, studio document of a seven-year relationship. Mangelsdorff, even if he is relatively unknown by general jazz listeners, is favored by practitioners for his prodigious technique. Trombone Workshop
, one of a series of same-instrument sessions by MPS, places him in a group with Slide Hampton, Åke Persson and Jiggs Whigham, plus rhythm section, for five competitive workouts, including a track from Never Let It End
. The final disc from Vol. 1 is Mangelsdorff at his most out, 1972's Birds of Underground
with Sauer, saxophonist Gerd Dudek, free jazz marvel bassist Buschi Niebergall and drummer Peter Giger for two originals and two free improvisations, representing the burgeoning influence of the avant-garde in Germany at the time. Vol. 2
cuts an even wider swathe. The Wide Point
(1975) is a trio session with bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Elvin Jones that features Mangelsdorff the composer. 1976's Solo Now
is an album of expositions by pianist Joachim Kühn, drummer Pierre Favre, multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel and Mangelsdorff, along with one Mangelsdorff/ Kühn duet and a quartet track. A Matter of Taste
from 1977 by MUMPSMangelsdorff Und (Stu) Martin, (Barre) Phillips, (John) Surmanbrings him together with The Trio, one of the longest-running improvising groups to come out of '70s Europe, for six group tracks, including the wonderful "Sparrow Knows". A Jazz Tune I Hope
is a 1978 session with Elvin Jones, ably abetted by bassist Eddie Gomez and one of Mangelsdorff's most regular cohorts, pianist Wolfgang Dauner. The closing Triple Entente
, documents a 1982 partnership with the Swiss rhythm section of Léon Francioli and Pierre Favre.
There is only one major omission to this set: the duets record And His Friends
with Don Cherry, Konitz, Jones, Karl Berger, Dauner and Zoller. And for a more complete picture of Mangelsdorff, one must seek out the over 50 albums he cut as a sideman during this period with groups as diverse as the Globe Unity Orchestra and United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. But Originals, plus the aforementioned Solo and Live, are an affordable and compact headstart to what trombonists have known for years.
Tracks and Personnel Originals Vol. 1
Tracks: CD 1: Zores Mores; Feeling-in And Filling-in In Villingen; Ach! Tavia / Skertzo / Alicia's Lullaby; At Twighlite; Struwwelpeter; Alat's Mood; Freeline Fräulein; Danke For The Memory; Rumpelstilzchen. CD 2: Icy Acres; Fourth Flight; Snowy Sunday; Willow And Rue; Lament; Ich armes Maidlein klag mich sehr; Sweet Primroses. CD 3: Wide Open; Never Let It End; Certain Beauty; 13th Color; Open Mind; Roitz And Spring; Nachwort. CD 4: Trombone Suit; Mother Someplace; Uli's Dance; Ice-Nine; A Certain Beauty. CD 5: Wobbling Notes And Fluted Crackle; Grive Musicienne; Birds Of Underground; Xenobiosis.
Personnel: CD 1: Attila Zoller: guitar; Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Lee Konitz: alto sax; Barre Phillips: bass; Stu Martin: drums. CD 2: Colin Wilkie, Shirley Hart: vocals; Joki Freund, Emil Mangelsdorff, Heinz Sauer: saxophones; Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Gunter Lenz: bass; Ralf Hubner: drums. CD 3: Heinz Sauer: saxophones; Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Gunter Lenz: bass; Ralf Hubner: drums. CD 4: Slide Hampton, Ake Persson, Jiggs Whigham, Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; George Gruntz: piano; Isla Eckinger: bass; Tony Inzalaco: drums. CD 5: Heinz Sauer, Gerd Dude: saxophones; Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Buschi Niebergall: bass; Peter Giger: drums. Originals Vol. 2
Tracks: CD 1: The Up And Down Man; Mayday Hymn; Oh Horn!; I Mo' Take You To My Hospital And Cut Your Liver Out; Mood Indigo; The Wide Point; For Peter. CD 2: Rainbow Road; Ant Steps On An Elephant's Toe; Take Your Hit Kit; Schwwweeet: My New Friend (No. 294), Freedom Of The Universe (No. 284), Kisses (No. 291), Hot (No. 293); Fuga mit Orgelpunkt von Schnee; The Barriers On The Way To You; In A Sentimental Mood; Supraconductivity; Medieval Percussion Song; Ringelvier. CD 3: A Matter Of Taste; Old Love Never Rusts; Amber / Electric Waltz; Sparrow Knows; The Strange Tale Of Mr. Misster; But The Accordion Stays. CD 4: Wart G'schwind; Once We're Here; A Jazz Tune I Hope; Kommentar zu "Hamburger Idylle"; Lapwing; Goma; Street Of Loneliness; Three Card Molly. CD 5: Hüpf Thema; Des'sch Too Much; Otherwise; Loose, Moose, Blues; Give Me Some Skin.
Personnel: CD 1: Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Palle Danielsson: bass; Elvin Jones: drums. CD 2: Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Joachim Kuhn: piano; Gunter Hampel: vibes; Pierre Favre: drums; CD 3: Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; John Surman: reeds; Barre Phillips: bass; Stu Martin: drums. CD 4: Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Wolfgang Dauner: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Elvin Jones: drums. CD 5: Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone; Leon Francioli: bass; Pierre Favre: drums.