Jazzkeller membership card
Frankfurt was the Jazz capital of Germany and the real jazz club
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.
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. 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
], 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
New 28 April 2023... Jazzkeller photo gallery.
CLICK HERE to see it.
As of 20 March 2023, the Jazz Keller still exists!
Most recent update:
- 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
- Book: Michael
Sound, Two Worlds: The Blues in a Divided Germany 1945-1990,
Berghahn Books (2019). Includes material on the Frankfurt jazz scene.
- Film: Carlo, keep
swingin', A Movie by Elizabeth Ok. Available on DVD at Amazon.com.
- 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).
- Aaron Gilbreath,
Brief Career and Self-Imposed Exile of Jutta Hipp, Jazz Pianist,
This Is: Essays on Jazz,
August 2017 (accessed 16 March 2022)
Fri Apr 28 14:02:43 2023
New York Time