Schöneberg, Berlin. The birth place of the  Blue note

By Avi Albers Ben Chamo

The day I went to visit Mr. Alfred.

The street is almost empty. A bicycle repair guy is waiting for customers, that aren’t coming, and next door three smiling girls are carrying furniture up to their apartment. I am very curious to know, if someone had known Alfred Lion, who left Berlin in 1933, lived in this street. The woman from the costume shop says, she doesn't know anything about him, but I should ask Marion who works in the kindergarten. 

It was a summer friday morning in Berlin. I needed some fresh air, so I took my bag, my sunglasses, and went to visit Alfred Lion. Maybe he will show me the way. Alfred Lion is an almost unknown person, because he had always been the man in the background. Lion founded the Blue Note label in New York in 1939. Blue Note Records was not only discovering and producing artists like Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Miles Davis. It was a label, that always put the personal artistic idea first. To sell records came second. Blue Note Records was an inspiration for a lot of people, and for me too.

Marion comes out from her kindergarten and tells me to wait for her husband, He would know something...

Mr. Lewalter with his kids

The waitress

Finally Mr. Lewalter comes out smiling. He suggests, that we go for a cup of coffee. Then he would tell me everything he knows. At the nearby and nice coffee bar I find out, that Mr. Lewalter is a jazz musician himself, a contrabass player, and that he moved to Gotenstrasse 7 without knowing, that his hero was once living here too. "It was my landlord, who told me that", he says. Young Alfred was living on the second floor. "What did you say?", I ask? Mr. Lewalter’s face turns into a big smile. "Destiny", he says.

Mr. Lewalter was also editing the German Wikipedia entry on Alfred Lion. And soon, he tells me, he and his sweet family will move to the upper floor, right into Alfred Lion’s apartment. I ask Mr. Lewalter, if he thinks that Alfred would be happy that there is no sign with his name at Gotenstrasse 7?, we wait a little and then both agree to assume that Lion probably wouldn't like a sign on his building, because his legacy lives in the records he did. I say thank you to the waitress, who told me that Marlene Dietrich used to sing in this bar a long time ago, and I thank Mr. Lewalter, who tells me that Willy Brandt used to sit here hiding from the crowd, drinking his special drink, and then I go my way. I feel better. I found Alfred Lion, and I took his advice, to keep doing your thing, even if people think that you are weird, some people can find your different vision as the most beautiful thing they ever saw. Thank you Mr. Lewalter, thank you, Alfred Lion.