You wouldn’t imagine that the serious man (second from left in the photograph, holding a corner of the check) could inspire such joy, but it’s true. That fellow is my friend and friend to many, Manfred “Mannie” Selchow, jazz concert promoter, jazz scholar, enthusiast, and so much more. He even has his own Wikipedia page that gives his birthdate, his work history, and more — but it also says that he has organized more than thirty concert tours of Germany that have resulted in many joyous concerts and CDs from them (released on the Nagel-Heyer label) featuring Ralph Sutton, Marty Grosz, Harry Allen, Randy Sandke, Eddie Erickson, Menno Daams, Jon-Erik Kellso, Dan Barrett, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber, Mark Shane, Rossano Sportiello, and hundreds more.
I first met Manfred through the mail: he had published a small but fascinating bio-discography of one of his great heroes, Edmond Hall (whom he heard in 1955 when Ed came to Germany with Louis). Eager as always, I wrote him to let him know about some Hall I’d heard that he hadn’t. We began corresponding and traded many tapes. The slim monograph grew into a huge beautiful book, PROFOUNDLY BLUE, and Manfred then began working on an even more expansively detailed one about Vic Dickenson, DING! DING! which I am proud to have been a small part of. In 2007, I visited him in his hometown for a weekend of music; I came over again in April 2016 for “Jazz im Rathaus,” which takes place in Imhove. This 2016 concert weekend was in celebration not only of thirty years of wonderful music, but of Manfred’s eightieth birthday.
The concert weekend was marvelous, full of music from the people you see below and others, including Nicki Parrott, Stephanie Trick, and Paolo Alderighi. However, one of the most satisfying interludes of the weekend took place near the end — a JATP-themed set led by Matthias Seuffert. And Matthias, who has excellent ideas, had this one: to play a blues for Mannie. Now, often “Blues for [insert name here]” is elegiac, since the subject has died. Happily, this isn’t the case. What it is, is a medium-tempo, rocking, cliche-free evocation of the old days made new — honoring our friend Mannie. The players are Bernard Flegar, drums; Niels Unbehagen, piano; Helge Lorenz, guitar; Nico Gastreich, string bass; Bert Boeren, trombone; Engelbert Wrobel, Matthias Seuffert, reeds; Menno Daams, Enrico Tomasso, trumpet. What a groove!
I think the world — in its perilous state — needs blues like this (homeopathically) to drive away the real ones we face, and this nearly ten-minute example of singular individuals working together lovingly in swing for a common purpose is a good model for all of us. Thanks to the always-inspiring Mannie for all he’s done and continues to do.
P.S. This post was originally prepared for the faithful readers and listeners shortly after the music was performed, but technical difficulties of a rather tedious sort interfered . . . and now you can see what we all saw a few years back. Thanks for holding, as they say in telephone conversations. And if Manfred is still somewhat computer-averse, I hope someone will share this post with him.
May your happiness increase!