Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff pioneered the art of jazz polyphonics, introducing to the avant-garde the symphonic tradition of playing multiple notes simultaneously. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, on September 5, 1928, Mangelsdorff grew up enthralled by jazz, devouring his older brother Emil's record collection.
His uncle, a professional violinist, gave him music lessons as a teen, but the rise of the Third Reich forced him to keep his passion for jazz in check. Over time Mangelsdorff taught himself guitar, but following World War II he managed to acquire a used trombone in exchange for cigarettes he often played for audiences comprised of the American soldiers who remained stationed overseas, finally performing to crowds who shared his appreciation for jazz. Word of Mangelsdorff's prowess on the trombone soon reached his fellow musicians, and in 1952 he made his recording debut in support of saxophonist Hans Koller.