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German Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff Dies

German jazz trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff died Monday morning in his hometown of Frankfurt after an unspecified long illness. He was 76.

Often called one of the most important jazz musicians in post-war Germany, Mangelsdorff was a master of multiphonics (playing more than one note at a time) and spent most of his time, especially later in life, working with and composing avant-garde music.

Born on Sept. 5, 1928, Mangelsdorff had violin lessons as a child and taught himself how to play guitar before his older brother, alto saxophonist Emil Mangelsdorff (who is still alive and playing at age 80), introduced him to jazz. He began working as a guitarist before taking up trombone in 1948. With his trombone, Mangelsdorff began playing around Germany in the 1950s, with Joe Klimm’s band from 1950-53 and Hans Koller’s band from 1953-54. He then played with the radio orchestra of Hessischer Rundrunk in Frankfurt from 1955-57 and the Frankfurt All Stars from 1955-56.

During this period, Mangelsdorff also spearheaded a hardbop quintet with Joki Freund and in 1958, he became musical director of the newly-founded Jazz-Ensemble des Hessischen Rundfunks. The same year, he made a trip to the United States as Germany’s participant in Marshall Brown’s International Youth Band at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Three years later, in 1961, Mangelsdorff formed a quintet with Heinz Sauer, Gunter Kronberg, Gunter Lenz and Ralf Hubner; this group soon became one of the most popular bands in Europe during the 1960s. Always busy, he also recorded with John Lewis on his 1962 album, Animal Dance.

In 1964, Mangelsdorff toured Asia on behalf of the Goethe Institute, the influences of which can be heard in his 1964 album, New Jazz America, which incorporated an array of Eastern themes. After touring the United States and South America with his quintet, he performed solo at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, which led to a series of solo tours and recordings in the coming decades. He recorded a plethora of albums during the 1970s with musicians including Palle Danielsson, Elvin Jones, Jaco Pastorious and Stu Martin.

He continued to actively play throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, with stints in groups such as Alexander von Schlippenbach’s Globe Unity Orchestra, the Reto Weber Percussion Ensemble and the Union Deutscher Jazzmusiker.

Originally Published