Recorded live at Studio 10 in Hamburg, January 27, 1961, produced by Hans Gertberg.
Hans Koller Quartet: Hans Koller (ts), Karlhanns Berger (p), Joop Christoffer (b), Klaus Hagl (dr),
with Brass & Sax: Ack van Rooyen (tp), Klaus Mitschele (tp/ flgh), Rolf Schneebiegl (tp/ horn),
Kurt Sauter (tp/b-tp), Rudi Flierl (ts/ bs), Helmut Reinhardt (bs), Rudi Fuesers (b-tp/ tb)
CD & LP: Sonorama C-97/ L-97 (Release Date: 21.10.2016)
At the NDR in Hamburg, Gertberg usually expected new material. For Karlhanns Berger, it was the first time he had ever really composed anything. In the set, he contributed “Homer’s Concert” featuring him in a trio with bass and drums and percussion only, and “Monkey” where he plays a fine solo. “That piece was inspired by the specific rhythms and tunes of Thelonious Monk. Gertberg liked that tune and picked it for the brief TV appearance where he also interviewed me on camera. That was the same evening as the concert took place. Hans was angry about this because he always wanted to be in the center of everything and didn’t like it if someone else was more successful than him. He was a very generous man and always paid us very well, but he was also very dominant. No one ever told him what to do. He was over the top and larger than life. You always had to stay in the background so that he could play his solo. That’s also why he preferred to play in a quartet with rhythm section, and not in a quintet. There was no other soloist. He was the leader and the other musicians only filled the gap when he wasn’t playing. But his playing was really amazing. There was no one else in Germany who played like him; well, actually, he was from Austria.”
Koller wrote most of the compositions himself. “Instead of extending his repertoire, Hans had five or six harmonies in mind and he would write different melodies on top of these,” Berger remembers. “It was easier for him to improvise by doing this because he already knew the changes. In doing so, he made it both easier for himself and also for the audience to follow him. I think he had a lot more success working this way than if he would have had to come up with something new all the time.” Koller considered himself as someone who was continuously improving, saying,“If a jazz musician goes on playing the same thing he played thirty years ago, then he’s just playing thirty years worse. In jazz, stagnation means regression.”
Two months after the concert in March 1961, reviewer and critic Friedrich Dück of the magazine Jazz Podium enthusiastically described his experience of this “powerful and intelligent” music: “Koller is, without doubt, the dominant personality in the group. His powerful blues horn reveals the vanguard of the hard-bop hurricane that has driven the German jazz scene. All the solos on this evening exhibited real honesty, straightforwardness and musical imagination. Yet it’s really difficult to choose just one musician and to highlight anyone especially…. This jazz workshop featuring Big Sound Koller was a real sensation. This is what jazz sounds like when good musicians are given the chance to play in the way that they want. And this music really swings!” Arne Reimer (August 2016)
Producer (for release): Ekkehart Fleischhammer for Sonorama Records,
final mastering in 2016: Roskow Kretschmann at Audiomoto Berlin,
photos of Hans Koller, Rolf Schneebiegl and Joop Christoffer at Studio 10 by Susanne Schapowalow,
used by friendly permission, sleeve notes: Arne Reimer, cover artwork: Patrick Haase.
Thanks for genuine support to Karl “Karlhanns” Berger, Klaus Hagl, Ack Van Rooyen,
Klaus Scholz, Natascha Brüggemann and Arne Reimer.