Volker Kriegel was widely considered the father of European jazz-rock thanks to his influential stint with the Dave Pike Set as well as a subsequent series of pioneering solo LPs for the MPS label. Born in Darmstadt, Germany, on December 24, 1943, Kriegel was studying sociology under the famed philosopher Theodor W. Adorno when he began playing in a Frankfurt-based group with German jazz legends Albert and Emil Mangelsdorff, eventually abandoning his education to pursue a full-time career in music. Kriegel signed on with expatriate American vibraphonist Pike in 1968, joining what would quickly emerge as one of the most popular and influential jazz fusion combos in Western Europe via the acclaimed 1969 album Noisy Silence -- Gentle Noise. While continuing his association with Pike, Kriegel also founded his own group, the Mild Maniac Orchestra, and in 1970 collaborated with violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris on the MPS date Keep on Driving. The guitarist then signed his own deal with the label to issue the 1971 jazz-rock landmark Spectrum, the first of ten MPS releases including such classic dates as 1973's Lift! and 1975's Topical Harvest. In 1976 Kriegel co-founded the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble with a host of international musicians including Albert Mangelsdorff, American altoist Charlie Mariano, British saxophonist Barbara Thompson, and Dutch trumpeter Ack van Rooyen, among others. This sprawling, ever-rotating collective was the guitarist's primary vehicle throughout the remainder of his performing career, which fell by the wayside in the years to follow as he turned his attention to other creative pursuits, most notably writing a series of well-received children's books including Der Rock 'n' Roll Konig (The Rock 'n' Roll King) and Olaf dem Elch (Olaf the Moose). The UJ+RE's 2002 farewell tour also proved Kriegel's final moment in the spotlight. After battling cancer, he died June 15, 2003.
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