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Jutta Hipp: Lost Tapes: The German Recordings 1952-1955

Dan McClenaghan By

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German-born pianist Jutta Hipp (1925-2003) was enticed to travel to New York in 1955 by jazz writer/historian Leonard Feather. She was signed by Alfred Lion to Blue Note Records where she very quickly—within an eight month period—recorded three albums for the label: At the Hickory House, Vol. 1 (1955); At the Hickory House, Vol. 2, and Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims, a teaming with the tenor saxophonist which was her most successful album.

Then it was over. Hipp left the music world in 1958 and supported herself in New York City as a seamstress and painter. She never returned to Germany, never again performed or recorded. The "why" of her retreat has never been fully explained, and she remains a "What If? artist. What if she had been able to achieve her considerable potential?

The potential is revealed in Lost Tapes: The German Recordings 1952-1955. This is the sound that enchanted Leonard Feather, and convinced Alfred Lion that Blue Note Records had a spot on its roster for Jutta Hipp.

The set opens with Hipp working the piano trio format with a deeply blue "Blues After Hours," followed by Erroll Garner's "Erroll's Bounce." The pianist is in a very percussive frame of mind on the first of these, before gliding into a mesmerizing glissando that introduces a brief but sweet bit of improvisation. The second of these trio efforts sparkles—the way its author, pianist Garner, would have it.

Tenor saxophonist Hans Koller joins the trio for the next eleven tunes. "Gone With the Wind" is a lilting effort, and Hipp proves herself a very capable and straight-forward accompanist—this is before pianist Bill Evans and his trios democratized the piano trio format. She shines as inspired soloist, though one who certainly could have stretched out more. Then this was in the end of the days of the 78 rpm records (1952), when the three minute limit was still in effect.

"What Is This thing Called Love" is laid down in a haunting fashion, with Koller's sax sounding especially resonant. Again, Hipp is restrained and tasteful in the accompaniment mode, and beautifully inspired when she gets her solo spot, with some long, serpentine lines that bring fellow pianist Lennie Tristano to mind. The familiar "What's New" has a fetching, cool jazz lightness, with trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff joining the front line, and features Hipp swaying into a lovely sing-song solo.

This is a generous very welcome helping of early Jutta Hipp, an artist, sadly, without a big discography. And it's another of Jazzhuas' Records first-rate offerings of previously unreleased gems from some of the early jazz artists—American and European—performing in Germany.

Track Listing: Blues After Hours; Gone With the Wind; You Go to My Head; Out of Nowhere; Stompin'at the Savoy; What Is This thing Called Love?; What's New?; These Foolish things; Lonesome Road; Sound-Koller; Come Back to Sorrento; Moonlight in Vermont; Daily Double; Indian Summer; Everything Happens to Me; Serpentinen.

Personnel: Jutta Hipp: piano; Franz "Shorty" Roeder: bass (1-13); Karl Sanner: drums (1-10, 14-17); Albert Manglesdorff: trombone (8-13); Hans Koller: tenor saxophone (3-13); Rudi Sehring: drums (11-13); Joki Freund: tenor saxophone (14, 17); Atilla Zoller: guitar (14, 17); Harry Schell: bass (14, 17).

Title: Lost Tapes: The German Recordings 1952-1955 | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: JazzHausMusik

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