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It all starts with a brilliant solo on tenor horn. Benny’s Blues, so cool, the kind of playing you only ever heard at Saint Germain des Prés or Hackensack, the legendary recording studio where Rudy van Gelder worked magic on numbers like Adderley’s “Somethin’ Else”. A baritone joins in, followed by 12 crammed and unfettered bars of trumpet from that supernatural talent, as mesmerising and in demand in Paris as he was in New York. But wait a minute, that’s Martial Solal on piano not Hank Jones, and the man on trumpet is not Miles, but Roger Guérin. For this is the Städtische Festhalle, Pirmasens, the town of shoemakers. It is autumn 1959. Jazz is in vogue, the television now has its place in living rooms up and down the land and at the movies Freddy Quinn has gone missing for a while in “Unter fremden Sternen”. But those present at the “SWF Jazz Session” in Pirmasens that evening were treated to a magical Franco-German “rencontre” without a trace of the shadows cast by wartime enmity. 1959 had been a good year for Hans Koller. He had developed an almost brotherly relationship with Oscar Pettiford, and recorded the soundtrack to a UFA nostalgia movie with Albert Mangelsdorff, Günther Leimstoll and Horst Jankowski. He had also long been a favourite son of jazz impresario Jo Berendt, a man who knew a thing or two about the jazz scene in Germany’s divided republic and how best to give exposure to his protégés on stage, radio, TV and at festivals.

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