June 24, 2024

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Lindy Huppertsberg – Lady Bass: The pioneer who dances with the bass: Video, Photos

The German jazz legend and first bandleader “Lady Bass” tells music history with her new program.

She transported her favorite instrument safely to Frankfurt over icy roads and through sleet. And returns with him to the place where she has already played many acclaimed concerts.

In one of the foyers of the Alte Oper, Lindy Huppertsberg carefully peels her favorite double bass out of its protective cover. An instrument with history. 1776, the year of American independence, built in Bohemia, badly damaged in World War II when its owner threw it out of a burning house and jumped after it, red-brown, polished wood, hand-forged mechanics. “I got it as a ruin and had it restored,” says the musician casually.

And since then, the 66-year-old has been inextricably linked to the instrument and loves its dark sound. It accompanied part of the way that made the native of Cologne become a legend of German jazz under the honorary name “Lady Bass”. 1989 first leader of a jazz band ever, 1994 one of the first in Europe to found an all-women jazz formation, the “Swinging Ladies”, a quintet with American musicians. Tours through Europe, jazz cruises in the Mediterranean, member of the Barrelhouse Jazzband for many years, awarded honorary citizenship by the jazz capital of New Orleans.

But you have to have seen Huppertsberg on her instrument on the stage of the Alte Oper to really understand her. When the audience in the packed Great House cheers her rousing groove during her solos, when she seems to be dancing with her bass. But the bass player doesn’t want to say big words about her role in German jazz history. “I’m a pioneer,” she says succinctly, nothing more than we retreat to talk over a coffee with milk. In workshops, she tries to convey her experiences to younger female jazz musicians, organizing, networking (“very important”), recording in the record studio.

The most important thing she has cannot be taught: charisma. She had to fight from the start. The single father, ballet master at a dance school, let his daughter follow the classical path of training as a dancer. Gymnasium was not planned and was found unnecessary.

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“I auditioned at the age of six.” Fencing and riding lessons from which the jazz musician still benefits today. “You learn body tension.” At the age of fourteen, his first own apartment. By chance she met the jazz pianist Agi Huppertsberg, the two fell in love and got married. A-levels on the second educational path, studies in classical music, minor subject bass, major subject piano, lessons with the solo bassist of the Staatstheater Wiesbaden. The main subject bass didn’t exist back then, it’s different today.

Despite piano lessons, she fell in love with the bass at an early age. Very easy to explain. “The bass is the most important instrument in the band, it gives the foundation and the rhythm.” When her husband started with the Barrelhouse Jazz Band in Frankfurt, Lindy soon worked there too. Actually as a roadie, with only occasional use on the bass. Back then, in the 1970s, there were only a few female jazz musicians and certainly no female bass players. “At the time I only knew one colleague in France.” Huppertsberg is still aware today: “I had the exotic bonus and the cuteness bonus.” She laughs.

To this day, she doesn’t let the fellow musicians of the Barrelhouse Jazz Band come to terms with her. “They are 1968 and reacted to me in a completely cool and relaxed manner.” There were more bad experiences with US colleagues. No further details. Only so much: “Machoism flourished.” But the bassist gained respect as a musician. In 1989 he founded his first band: “Lady Bass & The Real Gone Guys”. The American jazz bassist Ray Brown, who was her teacher, gave the young woman her honorary title, which soon got around in the music scene. To this day, Huppertsberg does not bother about strict dividing lines in jazz. Even then she played soul as well as rhythm and blues and cool jazz. “I’m not afraid to mix different styles.”

Lindy Huppertsberg mit ihrem jahrhundertealten Bass in der Alten Oper.

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