Who would have guessed that one of the founders of the legendary jazz label Blue Note used to live right round the corner from me, in Berlin’s Friedenau neighbourhood!

Wieland Strasse 22 was the address of Alfred Lion. Forced to leave Nazi-Germany because he was Jewish, he settled in New York and along with his fellow-emigre, Francis Wulff, launched Blue Note, thus also launching the careers of the likes of Miles Davis,Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane, to name just a few.

A new film that’s come out a while ago, called It Must Schwing!, now tells the story of the two founders, their flight from Nazi-Germany, and how they launched their record label in the city that had become their new home, inspired by the many American bands they’d heard playing in the old Friedrichstadt Palast back in the 1920s and early 1930s. Until the Nazis came in and infamously deemed this kind of music “degenerate”.

It goes without saying that a stop outside Mr Lion’s former home is included in my tour of Friedenau.


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