The four greats of German jazz – Conrad Bauer, Ulrich Gumpert, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, and Günter Sommer – have recorded on March 1974, in the studios of East German Radio, their early manifesto “Auf der Elbe schwimmt ein rosa Krokodil”, which was never released in East Germany. It was published later in West Berlin by FMP.
“Auf der Elbe schwimmt ein rosa Krokodil” continues what Ulrich Gumpert began in 1973 with his Workshop Band and also in his duo with Günter Sommer: the recourse to largely unused German folk songs as a commitment to his own tradition – with all the internalized Monk albums and various other influences superimposed upon it, of course.
“The theme that comes up in both "Krokodil" pieces and also in "Zweisam" seems like an anthem but is also somewhat elegiac. There is no reason for celebration, but also none for resignation. East Berlin, 1974. No ironic distance, but identification with a musically, culturally, and politically strange situation in the here and now. Finding oneself by risking breaking oneself. The image of a pink crocodile swimming on the Elbe, a verbal supplement to an autonomous sound production, pushes the play of associations into the surreal. Perhaps, too, the inflatable creature secretly sets out on the path that at the time would not have been allowed by the authorities: from Dresden to Hamburg and on to the open sea.”