We are thrilled to announce that our author, the legendary jazz musician and memoirist Coco Schumann, has won the prestigious Ehrenpreise, a lifetime achievement award from the German Record Critics Award Association.
Look for more announcements about our upcoming publication of Schumann’s gripping and enlightening memoir The Ghetto Swinger: A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers — both a witness testimony and chronicle of one of the best European jazz musicians of his time.In 1943, after Schumann’s arrest and deportation to the concentration camp Theresienstadt, he played “forbidden” jazz music with with other Jewish prisoners in the band The Ghetto Swingers. Detailing his life in “one of the hottest, high-octane jazz ensembles of the entire German Reich,” Schumann’s ‘glass half-full’ personality shines through even the darkest passages of the book.
“I’ve always made a conscious effort to not be defined by the concentration camps,” says Schumann, who was later transported to Auschwitz and was forced to play for sadistic guards, the SS, and prisoners being marched to their deaths. “Music has saved me, and music is all I have done.”
The first in Europe to play electric guitar on stage and several times named the best jazz guitarist in Germany, Schumann finally told his story publicly forty-four years after the war. Through his career he appeared in some of the top swing bands and alongside jazz notables like Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Toots Thielemans, and Louis Armstrong. Starting in the 1970s Schumann led his own quartet, became a composer and arranger, opened up his own Berlin bar, and taught music for many years at the prestigious Zehlendorf Conservatory. Until his retirement in 2014 at age 90, Schumann was playing regularly in Berlin for packed crowds.
The Ghetto Swinger—A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers will be published in January 2016. Translated by John Howard with an Afterword by Weimar- and Nazi-era culture and music scholar Michael H. Kater.