It is with sadness today that we light a candle for Coco Schumann, who died yesterday January 28, 2018 at the age of 93.
Coco Schumann was born in Berlin on May 14, 1924. Throughout his life, he appeared in some of the best swing bands in Europe and alongside jazz notables like Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong. For years, he led his own quartet, was a composer and arranger, and taught at one of the most prestigious music conservatories in Berlin. He was the first musician in Germany to play electric guitar on stage and several times was named the best jazz guitarist in the country. His latest song collection appeared in 2014, and until his retirement later that year at 90 years old, Schumann was playing regularly in Berlin for packed crowds.
Recipient of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany in 1989 and the Berlin Order of Merit in 2008, Schumann received the prestigious Ehrenpreis Lifetime Achievement Award from the German Record Critics in 2015.
As one of the last witnesses of the Holocaust, Schumann’s testimonial book The Ghetto Swinger is read widely in schools. A musical about his life played in Hamburg and Berlin in 2012 and will be staged again in May/June 2018. He has appeared in several documentary films, including Refuge in Music about the Terezín concentration camp where he played with the camp jazz band The Ghetto Swingers. At the time of his death in Berlin at age 93, he was already a legend, considered one of Germany’s greatest swing and jazz musicians.