Pepsi Auer

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A name that sounds like a variety show sponsored by a soft drink company seems like the last place Eric Dolphy would show up, yet the German pianist and composer known as Pepsi Auer actually backed up…
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A name that sounds like a variety show sponsored by a soft drink company seems like the last place Eric Dolphy would show up, yet the German pianist and composer known as Pepsi Auer actually backed up the innovative jazz multi-instrumentalist. It was all in day's work for the pianist in an industrious career on the European jazz">European jazz scene that began on-stage at military clubs during the second World War. Auer, who had begun studying keyboard with Hans Kray, became the pianist in the Freddy Christmann quartet in the mid-'50s, eventually seizing control of the group completely in an action known as a "combo putsch", perhaps because of Auer's Munich background.

In 1957 and 1958, Auer worked mostly with Freddy Brocksieper, but also began touring late in this period in an aggregation called the German All Stars. Other members of this ensemble included saxophonists Emil Mangelsdorff and Joki Freund as well as Peter Trunk, who by playing not only trumpet, cello, and bass cleverly avoids the distinction of being one of the only musicians in history who could use his surname to haul his gear around. Albert Mangelsdorff, the German trombonist who is one of the land's most famous jazz exports, also became involved with this group and used the pianist on a series of late-'50s recordings including several rare EPs.

Besides appearing on more than a dozen jazz recording sessions between 1954 and 1967, Auer also established himself as an arranger, including pop material, and was featured in regular broadcasts on German radio. Avoiding the frantic modernism that became an essential part of the '60s and '70s German jazz scene, Auer remains a mainstream man, solidly committed to a middle ground somewhere between the opposing styles of Bud Powell and Horace Silver. His recorded appearance with Dolphy is the result of a live gig in Berlin in 1961, also featuring expatriate trumpeter and solid swinger Benny Bailey.