Frankfurt photo #87 - The Jazzkeller

Jazzkeller card
Jazzkeller membership card
Frankfurt was the Jazz capital of Germany and the real jazz club in Frankfurt was the domicile du jazz, a.k.a. Jazzkeller, at Kleine Bockenheimer Straße 18a, an intimate members-only cavern concealed behind a completely nondescript and unmarked door in a dark alley in the financial district, and down lots of stairs, where the world's greatest jazz artists would jam into the morning after a concert at the Festhalle or Kongreßhalle. You had to show a membership card to enter; somehow, I had one.

Kongreßhalle ticket
Gerry Mulligan at the Kongreßhalle 1960
Frankfurt was a Mecca for jazz artists in the 1960s, especially African-American ones who felt more welcome in Germany than in their own country. At the Kongreß­halle I saw Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Joe Jones, Art Farmer, Art Blakey, I forget who else; most or all of them came to the Jazzkeller to jam afterwards. Along with many other greats peformed there including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Roy Eldridge, Hank Jones, Max Roach, Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, and German Jazz giants Emil and Albert Mangelsdorff and Jutta Hipp[5], to name just a few. I saw Dizzy Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan up close at the Jazzkeller, sitting in the corner right next to them like the people on the right in the big photo above.

New 28 April 2023... Jazzkeller photo gallery. CLICK HERE to see it. Jazz Keller photos

As of 20 March 2023, the Jazz Keller still exists!

June 2023: Here are three more images from a brand-new book[6] about Jutta Hipp (click each image to enlarge):

Jutta Hipp with Dizzy Gillespie at the Jazzkeller, mid-late 1950s
Dizzy Gillespie and Jutta Hipp at the Jazzkeller
Jutta Hipp playing at the Jazzkeller, mid-late 1950s
Jutta Hipp at Jazzkeller
Jazzkeller drawing by Jutta Hipp, mid-late 1950s
Jazzkeller caricature by Jutta Hipp

  1. Book: Michael J. Budds, Jazz and the Germans, Pendragon Press (2002). Includes a chapter by Carlo Bohländer, who founded the Jazz Keller in 1952: "Over the subsequent forty-three years the Jazzkeller, Frankfurt's Village Vanguard, has played host to most of the world's greatest jazz musicians." He concludes with this: "Because my jazz activities had been highly illegal during Nazi times, the city of Frankfurt am Main decorated me in 1994 with its Johanna Kirchner Medaille, a special recognition honoring the resistance to the Nazi dictatorship."
  2. Book: Michael Rauhut, One Sound, Two Worlds: The Blues in a Divided Germany 1945-1990, Berghahn Books (2019). Includes material on the Frankfurt jazz scene.
  3. Film: Carlo, keep swingin', A Movie by Elizabeth Ok. Available on DVD at
  4. Heidi Laird, The Frankfurt Kitchen: Forty-One Stories of Growing Up in Post World War II West Germany, Fulton Books (2021), pp. pp.249-252 (AFN, Jazz, and the Jazz Keller).
  5. Aaron Gilbreath, The Brief Career and Self-Imposed Exile of Jutta Hipp, Jazz Pianist, This Is: Essays on Jazz, Outpost19,, August 2017 (accessed 16 March 2022)
  6. Ilona Haberkamp, Plötzlich Hip(p), Wolke-Verlag, Hofheim am Taunus (2023). Highly recommended if you can read German; the author interviewed Jutta at length before her death, includes many photos and many of Jutta's drawings and paintings.
  7. Jutta Hipp, German Wikipedia (more information than the English version).
  8. Hipp, Jutta, Stadt Leipzig, 100 Frauenportraets, accessed 27 July 2023.
Most recent update: Thu Jul 27 19:24:39 2023 New York Time