. . . 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
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
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