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  1. Germany, a nation under Allied occupation and still bearing the scars of its Nazi past, tuned its radios to witness the “Miracle of Bern” and world cup victory just nine years after being at war. At the same time in Baden-Baden, a perfectionist bandleader sporting a baton and horn-rimmed spectacles was drilling his musicians. Kurt Edelhagen arrived in Baden-Baden in 1952, after seven year’s on the road touring the British and American soldiers clubs. Now he was at Südwestfunk, rehearsing for international celebrity. His rehearsal discipline was dubbed “Prussian” on account of his severity with musicians, his goal being to follow in the footsteps of his great idol Stan Kenton: hermetically tight, steely cold, but with a momentum and swing that went to the head. You Go To My Head – the old standard returned to the programme with the fi rstseductive whiff of modern jazz from Miles and Dizzy, Bud Powell and Clifford Brown. Reason enough, then, for Edelhagen to record his own version, with the Konitz-cool Franz von Klenck on alto. Like any bandleader of distinction, Edelhagen was open to infl uence from outside, inviting arrangers and stars to work with his orchestra in a quest for movement, timing, glamour. In April ’54, for example, Klaus Ogermann appeared as a guest on “Jazztime Baden-Baden”. The orchestra then headed to Freiburg, and an encounter between the grande dame of stride piano, Mary Lou Williams, and “Colonel” Edelhagen. Williams was living in Paris at the time, and if sources are to be believed, this was the only concert she ever gave in Germany. Audibly moved, Edelhagen told the audience: “We are truly speechless that she is here playing with us today.” Of the six pieces performed (two available as bonus tracks with the digital download), Williams played five in a trio with Werner Schulze on bass and Bobby Schmidt on drums, all of them audibly inspired – as in Blues On The Bongo Beat – by the rhythmic energy of the great lady. In late 1954, Edelhagen made another studio recording: Alpha Jazz by Roland Kovac. A showpiece that turned into a suite, with sweeping gestures, he contrasts intricate ostinati with dense soundscapes over Latin American rhythms.

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