As we mentioned last week, "Porgy and Bess", Gershwins's classical musical, will be making its appearance in Berlin from Berlin from December 9 through the 15th. Further details are that the performances will be at the Titania Palast (74 and 77 Strassenbahns run right by it) with prices starting at 4 DM and going all the way up to 25 DM. Leading the 80-actor cast will be Leverne Atcherson, Leslie Scott and Irving Barnes as Porgy and Martha Flowers and Ethel Ayler as Bess. The pre-Christmas season will start in Berlin tomorrow with the celebrating of the first Advent by German families. A wreath of green fir with four candles will be hung up in every living room. There are four Advent Sundays before Christmas and on each another candle on the wreath is lit. The family usually then sits around the house and sings Christmas carols.
Following a custom that was started just a few years back, Berlin families will lit candles on Sunday in memory of the prisoners of war who have died in prison camps, as a sort of thanks to those who have returned home after many years, and as a calling to those who still are among the missing.
The first Christmas trees have arrived in Berlin and another 500,000 are expected to arrive from Denmark within the next couple of weeks. Most of Germany's fir trees are used for export and are so expensive that the Danish trees are used in the homes. The three Sundays before Christmas will see most of the stores in Berlin open for late Christmas shopping. These three Sundays are called Copper, Silver, and Golden Sundays respectively.
Many of the products that are made in Berlin will be carrying the Berlin Bear as a trademark from now on. It seems that Berlin products are in great demand in Western Germany and other countries, but you can't tell a Berlin-made product unless it carries a stamp of the kingly bear.
The man who said that "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast" certainly wasn't at the Lionel Hampton performance last week at the Sportpalast. It seemed that instead of acting as a soothing agent, the music of Hampton and crew worked just the opposite. It stirred the audience onto a frenzy, ending only when the band left the stage and refused to play any more encores.
It all started out as an evening of jazz, but by the time intermission came, the audience was to far gone to come back, even if they had wanted to. Intermission was cut short as the musicians had to return to guard their instruments from the crowd.
Action came to a head near the end of the show when during "Flying Home" the Hamp took his trumpet and trombone sections for a little walk through the audience-turned-mob. This proved to be a mistake, although the leader made it back safely, it took several of his bandsmen a few minutes to make it through the multitude.
The show was slated to end just after 10 p.m., but the mass would have no part of it. Hampton, being a real showman and also afraid for the well-being of his troupe, took of his jacket and tie and really went to work. This was what the fans wanted and they really got it.
Five times Hampton tried to leave the stage and five times he was called back. Soon he didn't even try to leave and just stood there and played. The more he played, the crazier the audience got. They danced in the aisles, on chairs, and one cat even tried to to do some fancy steps on the stage, only to be removed by the ushers who if they hadn't had cotton in their ears could have been in the same state as the crowd.
The performance of the audience last Thursday night certainly shows why so many American entertainers enjoy making European tours, No where in the world are audiences more appreciative than in Europe. After seeing both the Louis Armstrong and the Lionel Hampton performances, we wonder what's going to happen on March 7, at the Sportpalast when Norman Granz brings the Jazz at the Philharmonic to Berlin.
Each year the JATP is formed of well known jazz musicians, all of whom have their own orchestra, and makes a world tour. Coming to Berlin this year are Flip Phillips, Illinois Jaquet, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Gene Krupa, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Oscar Peterson and Don Abney. To do the vocalizing for this group of all-stars will be the one and only Ella Fitzgerald. Tickets for this one night of jazz slightly on the swing side is from 2 DM to 10 DM at the Shopping Center Ticket Agency.
To cope with the ever-falling snow in Berlin, The city government has hired hundreds of workers and some 2,000 members of the alert police have been assigned to remove snow from the streets.
In our remarks on the Lionel Hampton performance a few weeks back we said it would be interesting to compare the Hamp with the Jazz at the Philharmonic. Now that the JATP has come, conquered and left, the comparison can be made.
We went to the Sportspalast last Wednesday with enormous hunger for good jazz.Our appetite whetted when we approached the place and found the entrances barred with a mob, the likes of which we have never seen. Entry into the hall was about as easy as making your way into the vaults of Ft. Knox in the middle of the night. Instead of going under our own power we were pushed, shoved, and pressured into our seats.
By the time that we finally got into our seats, the music had started, and what music it was. Where Hampton put on a show, the JATP put on a concert. The audience, restrained as compared to the Hamp's crowd, listened and soon became cognizant of the fact that they were hearing music instead of seeing spectacularism. Much to our surprise they enjoyed this type of music. They either had changed their music likes or were a different crowd from the one that had witnessed the Hampton show. Either way it was an evening of music only the JATP can play.
The highlight of the first set was the "Ballad Medley" during which each member of the group played a slow solo to the accompaniment of the rhythms section. Ending the first half with a flourish was the one and only Gene Krupa playing a drum solo as only Krupa can do.
The second set started out with the Oscar Peterson Trio performing some of the stuff that has made them tops in their field. After Peterson and company, the star came upon the scene in the form of the rotund, golden-throated Ella Fitzgerald
The first lady of jazz mixed her music up perfectly, giving the audience just the right amount of jazz with such ballads as "I love Paris"
The fans were appreciative of Ella's efforts and showed it with a large round of applause at the end of each number, not allowing her to leave the stage. It was only after two choruses of "Lady be Good" that she called the other members of the group back on the stage and stole away during a number, much to the dismay of the audience.
It was impossible to pick out one of the entertainers as the best. Peterson Ellis Ray Brown Krupa Dizzy Gillespie Eldridge Flip Phillips Illinois Jacquet, they're all performers of Jazz Fame in their own rights. Putting them together a Norman Granz has done, is the Best thing since the invention of "bockwurst mit allem"!