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VIP 7 – Jutta Hipp – The German Recordings 1952 to 1955 – Lost Tapes

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Tracks 1-5 are recorded live.

“Blues After Hours” opens with a Basie flavor, sounding like it emanates from the hands of a (black) elder statesman, perhaps from Chicago or Kansas City. Certainly not from a young German woman. The slow blues/jazz tune is precise and relaxed. You’d never know who was playing, though a couple right-hand runs could eliminate some of the usual suspects. The difficulty in this number is a 7 or 8. Most players embarrass themselves on these slow blues numbers.

“Erroll’s Bounce” shows that Hipp could’ve stayed in that style, and flourished, though she would be much less interesting from history’s perspective. She is at ease alternating swing and “straight” playing, which is, perhaps, her calling card; it becomes more pronounced on later cuts. I’ve heard lesser musicians get stuck somewhere between swing and straight, making their playing sound lazy. Switching gears like this can cause a “traffic jam” with some groups. The ensemble moves right a long, not missing a beat.

“Gone With The Wind” is a pleasant “cool school” piece, with a sax solo from Hans Koller that’s killer; I had to work that in. It reminds of Lee Konitz and Paul Desmond. If you don’t know, that’s good company. Koller shines on the track and proves that there were European players who could compete against contemporaries in the US. He’s worth searching out for a sharper/harder version of the West Coast “cool school”.

“You Go To My Head” opens with exquisite saxophone playing that is as controlled, quiet, peaceful and tender as you’ll hear from anyone. Hipp’s solo features long flowing phrases and good pacing. There is exacting, and hard to perfect, interplay in the ensemble, serving the music better than any “jam session” could. There’s a misapprehension that great jazz players “just” get together, “jam”, and come up with perfect records. That’s total bullshit and needs to be disabused. The reason the van Gelder recordings are famous isn’t for van Gelder’s engineering excellence, because Val Valentin was much better, but because the players could rehearse, smoke a little grass, chill, rehearse some more, then record. There are many lesser quality performances recorded in the big expensive recording studios in New York and California because you weren’t allowed the time to practice, BS, smoke pot, and chill out. Even then, studio time cost big bucks. So, it’s evident in these recordings that Hipp’s ensemble played regularly, probably nightly, to perfect a difficult style of interplay.

“What Is This Thing Called Love” features another amazingly sensitive introduction and more beautifully orchestrated interplay. It’s as if a mad scientist crossed Bach and Ellington. (Wow! -Pub.) The style is jazz, but it’s influenced by Baroque music. Hipp’s solo is harmonically “tall”, visiting lesser used parts of the jazz chord, while avoiding atonality.

Tracks 6 and 7 are studio recordings.

“Sound-Koller” features another early solo from Hans Koller, but this solo is powerful, exploring the low end of the sax and swinging hard. Albert Mangelsdorff’s trombone solo is steady and precise, avoiding the pitfalls of many sloppy trombone solos where notes wind up “in between the keys”. These recordings, made a year later, show Hipp’s style increasing in complexity. The bass solo is also tuneful and precise, with good momentum. The recap features more terrific interplay.

“Come Back to Sorrento” opens with dark and brooding unison playing, immediately followed by a bright and breezy “cool school” sax solo, and lyrical and sonorous trombone solo. Hipp throws out some amazing lines that could fool some into thinking they were listening to a jazz interpretation of The Well Tempered Klavier. It’s really ass-kicking stuff for those of us that love Bach and jazz, which couldn’t be that many. It ends with more unison playing, but less darkly scored this time.

Tracks 9 through 11 are recorded two years later and with different musicians.

“Daily Double” sounds like a Capital 10” from the West Coast Jazz players in California. It’s bright and breezy. You can feel the cool wind. All the solos are very fluid and tonally “bright,” which has to do with the mode/key of the song. With plenty of forward momentum, the tune opens and closes with more precise unison playing.

“Indian Summer” is another bright and easy tune, but features ham-fisted “Indian” elements, straight from one of the racist “cowboys and Indians” movies of the day. Victor Herbert can be forgiven. He didn’t know any better, I hope. Still, outside of the silly “Injun” elements, there are more interesting mixes of straight and swing playing from Hipp, creating a neat interplay with the drummer, who stays in syncopation the whole cut.

“Everything Happens To Me” is a nice, lazy interpretation that sounds like it was cut some hot summer night in the south, of the US, not Europe.

“Serpentinen” is a strong track to close the record. There’s another West Coast styled sax solo, followed by a guitar solo that’s obviously influenced by Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, and/or Herby Ellis. There are more Back-like lines. Bächlein, liebes Bächlein, War es also gemeint? This jazz and baroque mix is very rewarding, and it’s sad to know that Hipp would leave her native Germany to be overwhelmed by the scrapple in the apple.

The sound is not audiophile, but it’s pretty good for lost tapes. You can tell that the highs were missing from the tapes on the live tracks. That might be a choice made by the mastering engineer to cover up distorted and/or annoying highs. As tapes deteriorate, the highs can do very strange things, all of which sound unnatural. What is there is very acceptable.

Tracks six and seven are the best sounding, and the most interesting performances, in my opinion. There are highs and good depth. The later studio recordings are good, but it sounds like the tapes suffered a little more over the years.

The music here is vibrant, though definitely a derivative of major U.S. acts. Still, there are moments of originality and true greatness. How often can you say that about anyone? This is essential music for fans of West Coast Jazz and The Cool School. Though not all of the tunes are “west coast” or “cool”, the influence is unmistakable. The short career of Jutta Hipp isn’t the tragedy of unrealized potential on the same level of Clifford Brown, perhaps the most talented trumpet player in jazz, or “Fats” Navarro who was a big influence on Clifford Brown. However, it does give you pause: to consider how your words and actions, or inactions, affect the gifted and talented.

One Response to VIP 7 – Jutta Hipp – The German Recordings 1952 to 1955 – Lost Tapes

  1. Beau says:


    I actually like this release more than the others as I was totally unfamiliar with her work before seeing this LP. Was a pleasant surprise to listen to this LP. I am also being tempted by their jazz CD releases but am holding out to see if they will release them on LP.

    Just amazes me what can be made from 50 year old live recordings. Maybe it’s just me filling in some blanks with my mind but I listen to these LPs over and over and am amazed each time I play them. Makes you wonder what some present day labels are thinking when they release some of the recordings they do!

    Now I just have to find the Oscar Pettiford they just released!

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