Hannes Richter

Oscar Klein (1930 - 2006)

Hannes Richter

Austrian-born (Graz) jazz legend, Oscar Klein, who recorded with Lionel Hampton and other great jazz musicians during a career that spanned four decades died on December 12, 2006. He was 76. Having fled Austria when the Nazis took power, he was autodidact and spoke seven languages.

Best known for his aggressive and expressive Chicago-style trumpeting, which made him a fixture on the European club and festival scene, Klein also played clarinet, guitar and harmonica and began his career when jazz was taking hold in Vienna in the 1950s.

He teamed up with Joe Zawinul, later moved on to the Tremble Kid and the Dutch Swing College Orchestra, and went on to play with Hampton, Wild Bill Davison, Bill Coleman, Dexter Gordon, among others. Klein never learned to read music, but he made nearly two hundred recordings during his forty-year career, specializing in “old” jazz – Dixieland, swing and blues.In 1996, Oscar Klein was paid tribute by having been presented the nation’s Silver Medal of Honor by the late Austrian President, Thomas Klestil.