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The Return of Jazz Joachim-Ernst Berendt and West German Cultural Change by Andrew Wright Hurley

The Return of Jazz Joachim-Ernst Berendt and West German Cultural Change

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The Return of Jazz Joachim-Ernst Berendt and West German Cultural Change by Andrew Wright Hurley

Jazz has had a peculiar and fascinating history in Germany. The influential but controversial German writer, broadcaster, and record producer, Joachim-Ernst Berendt (1922-2000), author of the world's best-selling jazz book, labored to legitimize jazz in West Germany after its ideological renunciation during the Nazi era. German musicians began, in a highly productive way, to question their all-too-eager adoption of American culture and how they sought to make valid artistic statements reflecting their identity as Europeans. This book explores the significance of some of Berendt's most important writings and record productions. Particular attention is given to the Jazz Meets the World encounters that he engineered with musicians from Japan, Tunisia, Brazil, Indonesia, and India. This proto- world music demonstrates how some West Germans went about creating a post-nationalist identity after the Third Reich. Berendt's powerful role as the West German Jazz Pope is explored, as is the groundswell of criticism directed at him in the wake of 1968.



The producer, writer and critic Berendt (1922-2000) remains a central, albeit for some a problematic, figure in the history of relatively recent German jazz and European jazz in general. Andrew Wright Hurley offers a welcome, closely researched study of a man who a decade after his untimely death continues to divide opinion among musicians, fellow producers and critics.

* Jazz Journal

...an eminently readable and thoughtful inquiry into the life and works of a man whose career in many ways parallels not just the West German jazz scene, but West German culture as a whole between 1950 and 1980. His work is thus both a valuable introduction to Berendt's thought as well as an important intervention into current scholarship about the role of global and American culture in the development and contestation of West German identity.

* German Politics & Society

In The Return of Jazz, Andrew Wright Hurley has admirably demonstrated Berendt's influence upon the emerging jazz scene of the early Federal Republic. Hurley shows how Cold War politics and rejection of the National Socialist past heightened Berendt's sense of mission. For Berendt, jazz was more than an avocation; it was a program for social and cultural reform. It is to Hurley's credit that he raises so many important issues surrounding jazz's development in the second half of the twentieth century.

* H-German

This is a benchmark study, in showing why a subject that has been overlooked in jazz historiography should not have been. Its importance lies not just in recognising the importance of a major mediator and 'enabler
of postwar jazz

; it also models the late twentieth century shift of the jazz centre of gravity away from the US and towards international fusions. In its balancing of cultural theory with the most painstaking empirical research this is, quite simply, essential reading not just in jazz scholarship, but in the larger field of cultural history and its methodologies.

* Bruce Johnson Cultural History, University of Turku

About the Author

Andrew Wright Hurley holds a PhD in German Studies and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Melbourne. He has published articles on jazz in Germany and Australia, as well as articles on German Cinema, cross-cultural film-making, and law. He is a lecturer in German Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th February 2011


Andrew Wright Hurley

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Berghahn Books


322 pages


Individual composers & musicians, specific bands & groups



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