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The legendary founder of “JAZZLAND”, Axel Melhardt, has passed away.

Axel Melhardt, the founder and longtime director of the Viennese jazz club “Jazzland”, died on May 6 in Vienna at the age of 81, shortly before his 81st birthday. Melhardt opened Jazzland on March 4, 1972 and shaped it for more than half a century. Together with his wife Tilly, he was the soul of this traditional club under the Ruprechtskirche.

Melhardt originally wrote Jerry Cotton novels and later science fiction short stories before turning to jazz. His lifelong passion for jazz began after a key experience with the movie “Benny Goodman Story”. Over the years, renowned musicians such as George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, Monty Alexander, Fatty George and Art Farmer performed in Jazzland. Melhardt maintained a conservative program line and stuck to this line for decades.

He achieved his goal of celebrating Jazzland's 50th anniversary in April 2022 during his lifetime. Melhardt passed away after a long illness, leaving behind a legacy as an institution for traditional jazz and blues that is known far beyond Vienna.

(c) Bernd Matschedolnig
Authored on May 8th, 2024