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Helmut Brandt: 1931-2001
Helmut Brandt
Saxophonist, arranger

Born: January 7, 1931
Died: July 26, 2001 in Stuttgart, Germany

Germany's Foremost Baritone Saxophonist

by Marcus A. Woelfle
Copyright © 2001 Marcus A. Woelfle


Marcus Woelfle sends the following notice:

Dear colleagues

Helmut Brandt started on tenor and clarinet as leader of a Dixieland group after WW II. In the 50s he was considered German's foremost baritone saxophonist. In 1954 he founded a quintet which was inspired by the music of Gerry Mulligan but was no carbon copy. Later he worked mainly as arranger and composer, including the Konzert für Jazzcombo (1958).

After his 37-year-tenure with Rias-Tanzorchester he was still in demand as arranger. Unfortunately he didn't record much as leader, but he plays on albums by Hans Koller, Klaus Doldinger and vocalist Inge Brandenburg. Most of his recordings are hard to find. His work can be heard to advantage on radio tapes of the 1950s (some of them released in 1988) which feature him in company of Zoot Sims and Kenny Clarke. (Marcus A. Woelfle)

Marcus would also like to post the following obituary from, written by Guido Fischer, which can also be found on-line at:

Saxophonist Helmut Brandt Helmut Brandt is dead. The news has shocked not only the fans of Jazz in Berlin. The well-known saxophonist, composer and arranger died from heart failure unexpectedly last Thursday at the age of 70 in Stuttgart. At the age of ten Helmut Brandt began to play piano and mandolin. From 1947 onwards he added guiter, clarinet and tenor saxophone to his talents.

By the mid-1950's he was leading one of the most fantastic combos of German post-war Jazz. From 1959 on, the baritone saxophonist spent three good decades with the RIAS Dance Orchestra. His position with RIAS left him enough time for activities with his Mainstream Orchestra, with which he travelled constantly sice 1974.

Helmut Brandt once said: "I tried to improve the ideas, which I developed in the arrangements for the RIAS Tanzorchester with Werner Muller and later with Horst Jankowski when I integrated them into my own arrangements."

On his own admission, he never studied composing and arranging, but as long as he was making music he was also arranging. As a composer Brandt loved thinking in terms of symphonic categories and orientated himself towards the sound of a larger resonance. Also on smaller stages he directed music that appeared more powerful than his ensemble.

Over the years his arrangements and compositions became ever more lavish. Brandt, a perfectionist and workaholic, would sometimes spend the whole day wound up in a passage with only three measures. Brandt described himself as a man fairly fanatic about his craft, frenetic, always in need of action I see him now, in the RIAS Canteen, in front of me. In one hand the fork with which he ate, in the other the pen with which he arranged.

He wanted to make it to his 90th birthday in order to put enough of his ideas into reality. Beethoven and Mozart spent the whole lives with the fear of not having enough time, with which to write down everything that seethed in their heads. Helmut Brandt knew this fear too. But perhaps God has need for a good Saxophonist. (Guido Fischer)

Marcus A. Woelfle


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With 2 reader comments, latest August 26, 2001