Albert Mangelsdorff - trombone; Atilla Zoller - guitar; Don Friedman - piano; Larry Ridley - bass; Joe Chambers - drums
A gifted trombonist from Frankfurt, Germany, Albert Mangelsdorff was named winner of the New Star Award for his instrument in the 1965 Down Beat International Critics Poll. On the strength of that recognition, he was recruited by George Wein to appear at the '65 Newport Jazz Festival, intended to showcase the internationalism of jazz.
Exhibiting astonishing fluency and dazzling technique, Mangelsdorff opened his mini-set with his original, "Sarah." His gorgeous rendition of the oft-covered standard "Lover Man" opens with some virtuosic intervallic leaping on the unwieldy instrument in an acappella setting, then leads into a dissonant take on chording by the great Hungarian guitarist Atilla Zoller, who had been in the States since 1959 and worked with the likes of Chico Hamilton, Tony Scott, and Herbie Mann before his appearance here at the '65 Newport festival. Mangelsdorff and Zoller engage in a brilliantly expressive duet on the poignant ballad before the full band comes in midway through the piece.
Born in Frankfurt on September 5, 1928, Mangelsdorff had violin lessons as a child and was self-taught on guitar. Though jazz was forbidden in Germany under the Nazi regime, Albert and his brother Emil managed to pursue their interest in an underground fashion. In 1948, at age 20, Mangelsdorff switched to trombone and subsequently performed around Germany with bands led by Joe Klimm, Hans Koller (featuring Attila Zoller), and Jutta Hipp, as well as with the Frankfurt All Stars. In 1961, he recorded with the European All Stars and the same year formed a quintet which became one of the most celebrated European jazz bands of the 1960s, touring the United States, South America, and throughout Europe. Mangelsdorff's appearance at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival was his premiere as a leader in the States.
The trombonist continued to wave the flag for free jazz through the 1970s, performing in a variety of settings, including a 1974 recording with jazz drumming legend Elvin Jones, a memorable power trio performance in 1976 with drummer Alphonse Mouzon and Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius (documented on the live Trilogue), as well as mid '70s collaborations with the Globe Unity Orchestra and the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble. It was around this time that he discovered multiphonics (the ability to play more than one note at a time) on the trombone, which furthered his reputation as one of the most innovative and experimental players of the instrument.
Mangelsdorff continued to play in solo and small group settings through the 1980s and 1990s. In 1995, he replaced George Gruntz as musical director for the Jazz Fest Berlin. His final recordings were 2003's Music for Jazz Orchestra with the NDR Big Band and Shake Shuttle and Blow, the latter released shortly after his death on July 25, 2005. (Milkowski)