Carlo Keep Swingin'

"Carlo, Keep Swingin'" will be released on DVD on December 9th, 2016!

Carlo, keep swinging ab 9.12.2016 auf DVD!

Genre: documentary, Germany 2015
Length: 84 min
Language: german, english
Format: 16:9 (1,78:1)
Sound: 2.0
Subtitels: german, english

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Carlo, Keep Swingin' as Video On Demand (VOD)

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„An important film portrait of music history."“ - Dietrich Schlegel, nmz - neue musikzeitung

„... the pointillistic editing underpins the improvisatory-associative structures of jazz. ... much applause for the extraordinary documentary.“ - Wolfgang Sandner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

„An intimate picture of a pioneer of jazz in Frankfurt.“ - Ufert Goeman, Jazzpodium

„With "Carlo, Keep Swingin" the history of German jazz has received one of the best documents so far.“ - Hans-Jürgen Lenhart, musik an sich

„We didn't know exactly what was awaiting us, and then we were overwhelmed by the wonderful portrait of Carlo that was drawn.“ - Dr. Wolfram Knauer, Jazzinstitut Darmstadt

„A musician biography and an exciting time document in one, and additionally as exiting as only the best documentaries can manage.“ - Lichter Filmfest

synopsis a movie by Elizabeth Ok

Frankfurt am Main, bank metropole and city of vertical superlatives – anyone who only thinks of skyscrapers forgets that the vertical also runs in the other direction, creating rooms beneath the earth. Rooms that speak more than the disdain of Mammon. Elizabeth Ok’s film CARLO, KEEP SWINGIN‘ tells the story of just such a room, a room of creativity and resistance. In short, the story of jazz.

As a young man in the 1940s, Carlo founded the “Hot Club” in a cellar dome. Here the brothers Mangelsdorff secretly played forbidden “nigger music” during the Nazi era and starved themselves down to 42 kg in order to avoid being drafted. After the end of the Second World War, national and international greats of the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Bill Ramsey passed through the doors of “Domicile du Jazz”. The atmosphere was electric. Jazz legends from around the world such as Duke Ellingtion, Ella Fitzgerald, Lee Konitz, Chet Baker, Dean Martin, Albert Mangelsdorff got together for jam sessions. There wasn’t any money in it but there was plenty of schnapps. Conservatives called the club “jazz hell”, but for the youth of bombed Frankfurt it was a place of freedom.

Bohländer is the central figure who inspires many musicians through his music and is like a spiritual leader for them. Additionally, he is involved in a captivating love story in the 60s with Anita, a black jazz singer from New York who comes to Germany and later becomes Carlo’s wife.

Willi Geipel who was the tenant and host of the Jazzkeller in the early times describes the early stages of the cellar as follows: “Only a doorbell without any name showed the way to the secret place, where jazz was played in the underground.” The fellow companions give pictorial descriptions of the location and the time period and revive the father of jazz in Frankfurt, Carlo Bohländer. His wife Anita, who was a jazz singer herself, draws a lovely but also contradictory picture of him as her husband, father and complicated man. She came to Frankfurt from New York in 1964 and fell in love with Carlo, the Jazz professor, as she called him, the first evening she sang in the Jazzkeller. They married and she stayed in Frankfurt where she still lives today.

Paul Kuhn, Albert Mangelsdorff, Günter Lenz, Gusti Mayer, Fritz Rau and others provide a lively narration, often employing their instruments. Archive material gives an iridescent impression of the musician and theorist Bohländer.

The documentary is an explosion of pictures and music, it is a swinging portrait about an extraordinary, multi-layered man, a man with infectious ingenuity, wit and enthusiasm. A complicated and moving love story of what must have then very unusual couple and a hymn of praise to music and freedom after the catastrophic experience of National Socialism. The club, the swing, the jazz and Carlo Bohländer built bridges between nations and made it possible, for the world to come together again in Frankfurt. A film like this is also an exciting documentation of the early era of the German Republic.

Alles begann im Keller – von der Inspiration zur Realisierung des Films

In 2008, the film producer Elizabeth Ok, who has a background in Music, moved into a little apartment near the riverside in Frankfurt where she made an amazing and significant discovery: Her cellar at Mainkai number 6 was full of old photographs and interesting letters written by jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker or Lee Konitz. Additionally she found original music sheets of Carlo, records and a clarinet. This place belonged to Carlo Bohländer, one of the best German jazz trumpeters who ever lived, a jazz theorist, in fact, the pioneer of the Jazz harmony and founder of the Frankfurt “Jazzkeller”, formerly called “Domicile du Jazz”, an or the only place for the Jazz music in Germany which famous American and European jazz musicians frequented.

With the help of Anita Honis-Bohländer, Carlos’s widow, herself a singer from Harlem, Elizabeth Ok began to look through the inheritance, to make new contacts, and interview musicians, witnesses and companions of Bohländer.

From the first sight, Elizabeth Ok knew that only a film would be the right medium to show the wealth of the materials found. Therefore, she contacted the musicians who used to play in the “Jazzkeller” with Carlo and decided to make them protagonists of her film project. Their statements and descriptions regarding the rise of the Jazz era in Frankfurt together with the materials of the significant discovery and the typical Jazz music from the time period created an impressive image of Carlo as a Jazz legend. The audience becomes part of an exciting time period in Germany where the city of Frankfurt and the “Jazzkeller” played an important role. The music journalist Michael Rieth describes the function and significance of the Jazzkeller as follows: “Carlo founded the cellar and named it “Domicile du Jazz” – Home of the Jazz. It was a club for professional musicians who came after their concerts to get a drink and to play for themselves. Therefore, the “Jazzkeller” became a location for jazz sessions.”

Zur Jazz-Historie in Frankfurt am Main

The city of Frankfurt was one of Germany’s first cities to embrace the Jazz music. In 1928 a class for Jazz music already existed at the music academy, Dr. Hoch’s Konservatorium. Then, from 1933 onwards, during the period of National Socialism, Jazz music was prohibited and claimed illegal. Carlo Bohländer was born in 1919 in Frankfurt and studied classical trumpet from 1935 to 1938 at Dr. Hoch’s Konservatorium in Frankfurt. During the Second World War, he had already assembled Jazz fans and founded together with the musician Horst Lippman, the “Hot-Club-Frankfurt” to live out the jazz music and spirit in the Frankfurt underground. In that time, when jazz music was declared as "Entartete Musik" , “degenerate music”, young musicians needed enthusiasm and courage to play jazz in Germany – unintentionally they developed (together with Horst Lippmann, Emil and Albert Mangelsdorff, Hans Koller, Joki Freund and Jutta Hipp). A unique sound which was known later as the “Frankfurt Sound”. Carlo Bohländer and his Jazz contemporaries did not give up under the Nazi regime. They struggled for their music and their ideas of freedom. “We did not want to follow the national socialists. Jazz music gave us the feeling of freedom”, two contemporaries say.

The main story of the film begins in fact ten years later with the founding of the “Domicile du Jazz”, which becomes the “Jazzkeller” later. “The Cellar”, as musicians said, served for rehearsals at daytime. In the night it became the place for live jazz music in Germany which was frequented by famous jazz musicians like Keith Copeland, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerad, Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Kuhn, Bill Ramsey and last but not least Louis Armstrong. Nowhere else in Germany could one witness so many Jazz legends.

The pillar stone of the “Jazzkeller” was Carlo Bohländer. He inspired many other musicians like Dusko Goykovich, Emil and Albert Mangelsdorff who later became true Jazz legends in Germany.

Szenenbilder Carlo Keep Swingin'
Cast & Crew  Carlo Keep Swingin'
interviewees Carlo Keep Swingin'
Anita Honis Bohländer - Wife of Carlo Bohländer, Jazz singer and owner of the Balalaika Jazz club in Frankfurt.

Rudi Bläsing - plays the bass at the Swingstars and friend of Carlo.

Keith Copeland - Jazz drummer, born 1946 in New York City, died in 2015 in Frankfurt am Main. He came to Germany and teached at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne.

Willi Geipel - one of the co-founders of the Frankfurt Jazzkeller and its' longtime innkeeper, born in 1930, died in 2011 in Frankfurt am Main.

Dusko Goykovich - Serbian Jazz trumpeter and composer, born in 1931 in Jajce, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, now Bosnia and Herzegovina. He studied at the Belgrade Music Academy and played trumpet in a number of Jazz Dixieland bands. He came to Germany in the fifties and recorded his first LP as a member of Frankfurt All Stars band.

Eugen Hahn - seit 1986 Chef des Frankfurter Jazzkellers.

Paul Kuhn - very popular German piano player, singer and band leader, born 1928 in Wiesbaden, died in 2013 in Bad Wildungen. In his last years the toured with Max Greger, Hugo Strasser and other swing legends.

Günter Lenz - German jazz guitar player and composer, born in 1938 in Frankfurt.

Gustl Mayer - German Jazz musician (saxophone, clarinet) and music journalist, born in 1936 in Frankfurt.

Wilson de Oliveira - Tenorsax at HR - Bigband.

Bill Ramsey - born in 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio, he became a very popular Blues- and Jazz singer in Germany after World War II until today.

Fritz Rau - most famous concert and event manager in Germany, born in 1930 in Pforzheim, died in 2013 in Kronberg im Taunus (Hesse). He brought many international stars (e.g. The Rolling Stones) to Germany.

Michael Rieth - well known music journalist, born in 1944 in Schloß Bauschlott, died in 2014 in Frankfurt. He wrote mainly for the Frankfurter Rundschau about Jazz, Blues, Folk and Rock.

Ernst Rupprath - Trumpeter and wing horn player at the Frankfurter Jazz- Swingtett Jumping Daddies and friend of Carlo.

Werner Wunderlich - German Jazz journalist and broadcast moderator, born in 1926, died in 2013 in Baden-Baden.

Peter Reiter - Tenorsax at HR - Bigband.
crew Carlo Keep Swingin'
Director & Screenplay
Elizabeth Ok

Susann Maria Hempel

Stefan Neudeck
Josef Åkebrand
Stefan Wachner
Lars Ziegenhain

Camera Paul Kuhn
Julia Maria Repke

Camera Assistant
Sabine Panossian

Josef Åkebrand

Sound Assistant
Alex Kuckuck, Dirk Sommer

Sound Engineer concert
Folker Seipelt

Ok & Stock Filmproduktion UG
Elizabeth Ok & Oliver Stock

Visual Effects
Anja Grosswig

Cornelia Albrecht
Eva Höppner

Editor of prolog
Jonas Weber Herrera

Color Grading
Marc Lontzek

Sound Design
Rainer Speidel

5.1 Output
Benjamin Krbetschek

Graphic Design
Oliver Stock

A list of past events and theater screenings can be found on Facebook.

supporters of Carlo Keep Swingin'
HFF Bristol Hotel Frankfurt Historisches Museum Frankfurt Kulturamt Frankfurt Jazzdimensions Jazzinstitut Darmstadt Jazzkeller Frankfurt Theater Baden-Baden Jazzclub Unterfahrt