Jutta Hipp

Jutta Hipp (February 4, 1925 – April 7, 2003) was a jazz pianist and composer. Born in Leipzig during the Weimar Republic, Hipp initially listened to jazz in secret, as it was not approved of by the Nazi authorities. After World War II, she became a refugee, often lacking food and other necessities. By the early 1950s, she was a touring pianist and soon led her own bands. Critic Leonard Feather heard Hipp perform in Germany in 1954, recorded her, and organized her move to the United States the following year. Club and festival appearances soon followed, as did album releases.

For reasons that are unclear, Hipp’s last recording was in 1956. She started working in a clothing factory, and ultimately cut herself off from the music world. She remained in the United States, and worked for the clothing company for 35 years.

Hipp was born on February 4, 1925 in Leipzig in the Weimar Republic. Her family was middle class, with a Protestant background.[3] She began playing the piano at the age of nine and studied painting in Germany. Jazz was disapproved of by the Nazi regime, but Hipp listened to it during “clandestine gatherings in friends’ homes and […] during bombing raids. Instead of joining her parents and brother in the basement shelter […] she hunkered down in front of the radio transcribing jazz tunes played on forbidden radio stations.” She studied at the Leipzig Academy of Graphic Arts before moving as a refugee to the western zones of Germany in 1946 after Russia occupied Leipzig

“After the war she became a displaced person and suffered from malnutrition and lacked most basic necessities”, wrote Marc Myers for Jazz Wax. She had a son, Lionel, in 1948, named after Lionel Hampton. He was fathered by an African-American GI. As African-American GIs at that time could not accept paternity to white women, the identity of Lionel’s father is unknown. Hipp soon gave up her son for adoption.

Hipp worked with saxophonist Hans Koller from 1951, touring in Germany and other countries. They recorded together in 1952. In Germany she also led a quintet between 1953 and 1955; Albert Mangelsdorff‘s brother Emil was a member of the group. In 1954, Hipp played with Attila Zoller. In January of the same year, critic Leonard Feather heard Hipp in Germany, around three years after being sent a recording of her playing by one of her friends. He booked an April recording session for her; the resulting album was released two years later. Later in 1954, Hipp played at the Deutsches Jazzfestivalin Frankfurt.

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