Friday, February 24, 2017

Lars Gullin on 10" Contemporary


Jazz is, of course, an American invention, but Europeans started putting their own  spin on the music pretty early. Django Reinhardt was recognized as one of the most important guitarists playing jazz almost from the time he first recorded in the 1930s. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Scandinavian jazz scene began to be recognized world-wide as a source of creative jazz influenced by American jazz, but having its own sound and style. The American influence was largely from the so-called "cool jazz" school - the music of Lennie Tristano and the Miles Davis "Birth of the Cool" band was probably more influential in Sweden and Denmark (and Germany, for that matter) than in the States.

Baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin was recognized pretty early in his career as a world-class improviser by the wider jazz world. This 10" LP, released by Contemporary in 1953, shows the Tristano/cool jazz influence strongly. I have read that these recordings were made specifically for release on Contemporary - I don't know about that, because they were also released in Sweden; I don't know which release came first. Side one here is a quartet with Gullin's baritone sax as the only horn; side two adds a trumpet to make a quintet, and Gullin plays alto sax on a couple of tracks. All the musicians are competent and professional, but only Gullin really has a personal, unique voice.

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