RareCollections: Horst Liepolt and Modern Jazz in 1950s Melbourne
The moment Horst Liepolt heard a recording of Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five play Savoy Blues in 1944 he was hooked on Jazz.
A stranger he met on the streets of Berlin noticed Liepolt's displeasure with a local marching band passing them by and invited him over to listen to some jazz records.
That initial taste quickly grew to an insatiable hunger that has continued ever since.
In 1948 Horst Liepolt saw the Dizzy Gillespie Band playing bebop and, realising that jazz was a highly creative and evolving musical tradition, he became a devotee of modern jazz.
In 1951 Liepolt was ready to move to New York but a simple twist of fate had him travelling by plane to Tasmania instead. He loved it.
Six months later he moved to Melbourne and went in search of jazz bands. Trad jazz was the popular style of the day but he soon found a small group of musicians interested in making modern sounds.
In the mid 1950s he began paying five pounds rent for a space in St Kilda where he began promoting jazz shows on a Sunday afternoon.
Thinking back to his life changing experience with Louis Armstrong in 1944 he decided to call the place Jazz Centre 44.
It quickly established itself as one of the most influential and important venues of the day hosting shows by favourites like the Brian Brown Quintet, Alan Lee Quartet and the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band.
By late 1959 Liepolt had decided that it was time for a change. He closed the centre and made a move to Sydney.
This is part one of a two-part interview with Horst Leipolt, looking at the thirty years he spent promoting and producing jazz in Australian.
Part two will focus on his time in Sydney.