Jazzkeller Treptow - Jazzkeller 69

Thulestraße 16,


. . . a n d   F r i d a y   i n   t h e   J a z z   C e l l a r   T r e p t o w 

Doors should have opened at 7 p.m. yet if the persons of „Jazzaktiv“ (non­profit

jazz association)  responsible for the evening were late the guests had to wait. 

We all came from work though and most of us also had children to take care of. 

Yet waiting was nothing extraordinary in GDR­times. And those who were early

had hope to be admitted. 

Officially the jazz club was authorized for 100 persons. Yet many more people 

wanted  to see  the  concerts.  It  was therefore  up  to  the  admission service to 

decide who could come in, who had to wait or who was sent away immediately. 

Admission was  given to  regular customers  who regularly met since  the 

beginning  of the  Seventies  to  listen to music  and  drink beer  in Treptow. 

In any case free entrance was granted to musicians and the approximately 20 

members of „Jazzaktiv“. Slim chances to enter had outsiders who did not know 

anybody who could pull a few strings.

I, „Assi Glöde“, came to Berlin in 1981 and knew some jazz club activists from

common study times in Karl­Marx­Stadt (now again Chemnitz). There I got my

nickname. Maybe because I said what most of us felt at that time: thank god 

the time in the army was over, without a labour contract in the student summer

at the Technical College, yet so far not enrolled – that felt like being antisocial. 

The legends about the jazz club were already fixed in 1981: one thing’s for sure 

that at the end of 1969, initiated by jazz musicians and employees of the HO

(State Retail Store)­restaurant  organization, the concert  series  „Jazz to  Listen

and Dance to“ was launched (later the district cultural centre Treptow took over

the  organization and  financing).  In  the  beginning  there  were  sporadic,  later

monthly concerts of Berlin dixieland bands (Papa Binne, Tower, Jazz­Collegium) 

in the – at this period – still well functioning club restaurant in the basement of

the house. 

What  was  happening  on other  Fridays is  unclear. Fact is  that  from the  Mid­ 

Sixties the first GDR­beat bands such as the Diana­Show­Quartet, Franke­Echo­ 

Quintet and the Sputniks performed in the „Twistkeller“ (twist cellar) Treptow. 

Whether in the  beginning  of the  Seventies  also the first jazz  rock formations 

such as Modern Soul,  SOK and Klaus Lenz also gave concerts  in the  district 

cultural centre Treptow is not sure. 

In any case it is a mystery how avantgarde jazz came to Treptow. Maybe it was 

just simply the fact that  the employees  of the district cultural centre,  the 

restaurant staff and the jazz fans became enthusiastic over the new jazz music, 

that they anyway knew  know  each other  and therefore their ways  crossed in


In any case the GDR­wide jazzboom had arrived in the district  cultural centre 

Treptow in 1975 and concerts were held in the basement every Friday. 

Of course  the  musical spectrum became larger, among  others  with FEZ,

Synopsis,  the Manfred  Schulze  Formation, Uschi Brüning  & Co., the Hubert

Katzenbeier  Quintet, the Friedhelm Schönfeld  Trio, the Hannes Zerbe  Quartet

and of course blues. 

Due to the big interest of the  audience  concerts in the district  cultural centre 

Treptow were held also on Thursday between 1976 and 1979. In a loose orderthe concert series „We Present“, „Contemporary Music“ and „Sound Workshop“ 

took place in the hall of the district cultural centre. 

Special concerts  were  held  in the  town hall Treptow,  in the  Archenhold­ 

observatory and the cinemas „Gérard Philippe“ and „Astra“. Who exactly played 

with whom is impossible to ascertain anymore, unfortunately. 

By organizing  sometimes  ten concerts  a  month the  district  cultural centre 

Treptow  became  one  of the most important concert promoters in East Berlin. 

Invited  by  the  KGD (Concert  and  Guest Performance Direction),  foreign

musicians  played  in the  scope  of special concerts,  such as Willem Breuker,

Christian Escoudé, the Louisiana Hot Seven from Denmark, Ossian from Poland,

Albert Mangelsdorff and Peter Brötzmann.

Legendary became  in particular the rare  evenings  when musicians from

Western Europe used their stay in West Berlin to make an excursion to Treptow 

and  sat  in „surprisingly“ and  as „guests  from the audience“  in the concerts, 

such as done by Willem Breuker, Peter Brötzmann, Vince Weber and others.

One of Uli Gumpert’s best known compositions is called „‘n Tango für Gitti“ (A 

Tango for Gitti). That was the head of the HO­restaurant who looked after food 

and  drinks  until late in the  night and  livened  up the party.  In  return guests 

often had to wait for a long time in front of her high counter.

Since the work load could not be accomplished anymore by the employees of

the  district  cultural centre  alone,  already  from 1973 on they included  jazz 

friends  from the  regular audience  in the  organization of the  concerts.  „Jazz­ 

Aktiv“  as  „voice  of the  audience“  kept constant while  the  employees  of the 

district cultural centre  changed. „Jazz from the  GDR“ became  a trademark in

Western Europe. 

Some jazz musicians were allowed to travel to the NSW (non­socialist economic 

area) although they were generally suspected of sympathizing with the ideas of

Wolf Biermann who was expatriated in November 1976. As a consequence also

the great number of people going to jazz concerts gave rise to suspicion. It was 

a difficult time for all those working in the field of culture. 

The  existence  of jazz  in Treptow  was threatened  when Tschapka,  one  of the 

most  committed employees, quitted the district  cultural centre and was trying 

to leave the country. 

It was one of the  reasons why the  circle of honorary helpers formed the  Jazz

Club Treptow in 1979 and also took over the conceptional responsibility for the 

events. From the memorandum of association from 8 October 1979:

„Despite  the  good  development  tendencies  have  emerged  which  should  be 

opposed in order to prevent damage with regard to the quality of the  concert 

series in the next few years. These are:

Due to routine­like ties of certain jazz formations to the KKH (district cultural 

centre) the active promotion of young talents has nearly been given away. 

The  increasingly louder talks  between t