Schön, daß es dich gegeben hat.
Schön, daß du bei uns warst.


The name Eberhard Pokorny will be unknown to many of you, but I met the man back in 1963, when I was playing with John Dankworth's band, and continued a friendship with him right up until he died in 1999, aged 76. We had just finished playing the Lugano Jazz Festival with John and had made our way to Saarbrücken, over on the French border of Germany, near Metz, where we were to make several television shows and a jazz concert. He was the bandleader of the radio station band, and he brought all his colleagues in to see us in the studio.

Many years later I took the job on first trumpet in that very same band and stayed there, working with him, until I retired. I had been playing with the great Peter Herbolzheimer band, the Rhythm Combination and Brass, for about ten years when it was decided that all recordings by that group would, in future, be made in Saarbrücken. The station bought an awe-inspiring amount of the latest electronic equipment in readiness, and I took the job there in order to be on hand at all times.

Just after I signed the life contract the man responsible for the scheme switched to a job in the Sudwestfunk, Baden-Baden, and the Herbolzheimer project moved there with him. There was no point in my going through all the complicated paperwork again, so I stayed put.

Saarbrücken is an extremely pleasant town, very hilly, with a river and a canal. A footbridge near my house led over to France and several great restaurants. The radio station is situated on top of a hill, beside a castle that housed various generals and town commanders during the war. It now had one of the finest restaurants in town.

The radio band was very good, as all German bands are, and Eberhard made the job extremely free of stress and enjoyable for everyone. He was a talented valve trombone player and a very good arranger. In his youth he had played trombone in the radio band in Nürnberg, together with Peter Herbolzheimer, who was then playing guitar, and keyboards man Horst Muhlbradt, already an ultra modern arranger and composer.

The Saarbrücken radio band had four very good sax players, and the bass player also played excellent tuba. I was able, by means of over-dubbing, to make some outstanding recordings with that band. Also, with the four saxes and valve trombone, we had a sound equal to, and often surpassing, the sound of a regular sax section. The lead alto played good clarinet and flute, and the pianist was a virtuoso. So I was happy, and never more so than I was together with Eberhard, who was also a very good social entertainer.

Our favourite bar was a restaurant high on a nearby French hill. It was run by a very old lady who had a wealth of stories about the German occupation of her pub. When she was fairly plastered she took it upon herself to sing me all her old French songs. There was romance in the air, even though she was at least 96. Eberhard and his wife Anna would join in from time to time. Their daughter Vera, a brilliant computer specialist employed in a managerial position at the BMW works in Munich, accompanied us there during her frequent visits.

I visited them regularly, even after I had moved to Spain. The picture here shows Eberhard with Peter Herbolzheimer, taken when we visited Peter's youth band, the Bundes Jazz Orchester, during a concert in nearby Blieskastel in 1997.

Eberhard was a man whom it is extremely hard to forget. He was, without a doubt, the nicest man I have ever had the good fortune to meet. A talented musician, he was always cheerful and positive thinking, and I admired him immensely for his optimistic outlook on life. When I learned of his death I absolutely refused to believe it. For me he will go on forever, and he will most certainly live forever in my mind.

Ron Simmonds