In the summer I saw him at the Decksteiner Weiher; an elderly gentleman of uncertain age, dressed in black despite the heat, with a jacket.
As I jogged past, I recognized him and threw up my right hand in greeting. The next time I saw him on a bench from a distance, I started the “hello” early with both hands.
Between 1974-80 we lived house to house in Sülz; once I saw him leaving the house, I never heard a saxophone sound from there (why should he practice in a rented apartment?) csm dudek gerd dez 21 live 3a8cc08b2cHe was the great silent of the Cologne scene. The famous dictum that the musician XYZ expresses himself through his horn applied particularly to him.
And it wasn’t just in Cologne that there were quite a few who wanted to hear exactly that.
He came there from Siegen. At 14, 15 he played alto saxophone in a local big band, at some point a professional big band was touring through the city, he joined, together with his brother Ossi. He quits his job as a draftsman and travels around the country in the second half of the 1950s.
Exactly where and when is difficult to reconstruct; but the young Federal Republic does not present itself to the talented up-and-coming musicians as gloomy and musty, as is always the case.
Frankfurt, Hanau, Bad Kitzingen, Stuttgart, US soldiers’ jazz clubs, big hotels, not just jazz, but lots and lots of dance music, “the big hotels were actually fantastic for those times, three months in Garmisch in the summer, that was like the best holiday”.
not to forget Hamburg; “I still have pictures (laughs) with Oscar Pettiford, me when I was 18 or 19”, in early 1959 his first NDR jazz workshop with Pettiford, Kenny Clarke, Hans Koller, Attila Zoller.
A year later, Kurt Edelhagen brought him into his orchestra. 1964, he still takes part in the USSR tour; Leningrad, breakfast in a large hotel, “Marlene Dietrich is sitting at the next table!”
Although Edelhagen’s saxophone writing “was an incredible school for me”, he quits in the same year; too many TV shows, too much waiting.
In the middle of the decade, Dudek’s stylistic focus shifted to the avant-garde triangle of Cologne>Wuppertal>Frankfurt.
The starting point in the cathedral city is the “Kintopp Saloon”, according to legend a hustle and bustle of Edelhagen musicians and amateurs on 42 square meters.
Schlippenbach, Liebezeit, Niebergall, Dudek, the later members of the Manfred Schoof Quintet, but also of the Globe Unity Orchestra, they got rid of the elements of the jazz tradition there more successfully than the rotten Kintopp piano – it is said to have collided with another car on a disposal trip.
In 1971 Dudek was in Frankfurt/Main again, now as a member of the Albert Mangelsdorff Quintet.
There, as one author points out, on March 24, 1968 he actually took part “in the first performance of Peter Brötzmann’s ‘Machine Gun'” – at the German Jazz Festival, four days before the recording of the later legendary album in Bremen (then without him). .
We owe the same author (Wolfram Knauer) the reference to the play on the name “Do dat Dudek”, which on the Joachim Kühn album “This Way out” (1973) goes off just as the title promises: Ornette Coleman-like theme, a Coltrane´nesque liquid tenor, a motivic improviser.
That was his trademark, a technically brilliant, brilliantly adapted tenor, which he retained – also on the soprano – during his long transition into the modern mainstream, in which he could be found in recent years.
It is no coincidence that his death was announced by one of the leading musicians in Cologne, the pianist Martin Sasse.
Gerhard Rochus “Gerd” Dudek, born on September 28, 1938 in Groß Döbbern near Breslau, died on November 3, 2022 in Cologne, he was 84 years old.