Bengt Hallberg: All-Star Sessions 1953 / 54

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Bengt Hallberg: All-Star Sessions 1953 / 54 By 1953-54, when these sessions were recorded in Stockholm, pianist Bengt Hallberg had been a resplendent star on the Swedish jazz scene for more than half a dozen years. Unremarkable, one might surmise, until he learns that Hallberg turned twenty-two on September 13, 1954, by which time he had already won a nationwide competition for young composers and recorded with such American stars as saxophonist Stan Getz and trumpeter Clifford Brown.

Hallberg was a fifteen-year-old high school student when he took part in his first recording session as a member of bassist Thore Jederby's quintet in the summer of 1948. Three years later he was recording with Getz on a date that introduced a popular version of the Swedish folk song "Ack Värmeland du sköna" ("Dear Old Stockholm ).

At the end of 1954, shortly after the first of these three all-star sessions was recorded, Hallberg was named Estrad magazine's Jazz Musician of the Year, an honor that was accompanied by a pair of gold cuff-links. The second session, recorded in January 1954 and titled Swingin' in Sweden, was produced by jazz critic Leonard Feather, who enlisted Americans Ernie Englund on trumpet, Red Mitchell on bass and Bobby White on drums to enlarge Hallberg's group. Englund reappears on the last of these sessions, recorded a week later, with Mitchell and White replaced by Simon Brehm and Robert Edman, respectively.

Besides Hallberg, the common denominators on all the sessions are baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin and trombonist Åke Persson. Brehm, saxophonist Arne Domnérus and drummer William Schöpffe round out the ensemble on session one, tenor saxophonist Carl-Henrik Norin on session two, clarinetist Puttte Wickman and French hornist Åke Björkman on session three.

As none of the sessions was extensive, we are given first, second and even third takes of a number of tunes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as it shows the subtle variations in color, harmony, timing, group interaction and, above all, improvisation that separate one reading from another. There are three takes of "Pink Lady and "Blues in Fourths, two each of "Side Car, "Red Wails in the Sunset and "Doe Eyes, increasing the playing time to a generous 75:33.

Those who are familiar with jazz in Sweden will know that this is the absolute best it had to offer at the time. Others will have to take my word for it. Hallberg, Persson, Domnérus, Wickman and especially Gullin are legendary figures, among the most accomplished jazz musicians Sweden has ever produced, and beacon lights for such younger lions as pianist Jan Lundgren, trombonists Mimmi and Karin Hammar, trombonist Vincent Nilsson, trumpeter Peter Asplund and saxophonist John Högman, among others.

Any album on which Lars Gullin plays a prominent role is by definition indispensable. Even though these are Hallberg's dates, he, Persson, Domnérus, Wickman and the others are simply luscious icing on an already tantalizing Gullin-variety dessert.

Track Listing: Whiskey Sour; Side Car (Take 2); Limehouse Blues; Pink Lady (Take 3); Pink Lady (Take 1); Side Car (Take 1); Pink Lady (Take 2); Red Wails in the Sunset (Take 1); Red Wails in the Sunset (Take 2); Doe Eyes (Take 1); Doe Eyes (Take 2); Redhead; Depressionism; Meatballs; Blues in Fourths (Take 3); Blues in Fourths (Take 1); Blues in Fourths (Take 2).

Personnel: ke Persson: trombone (1-9, 12-17); Arne Domnrus: alto sax, clarinet (1-7); Lars Gullin: baritone sax; Bengt Hallberg: piano, arranger (1-7, 12-17); Simon Brehm: bass (1-7, 12-17); William Schpffe: drums (1-7); Ernie Englund: trumpet (8, 9, 12, 13); Carl-Henrik Norin: tenor sax (8, 9); Red Mitchell: bass (8, 8, 9); Bobby White: drums (8, 9); Red Mitchell: bass (10, 11); Bobby White: drums (10, 11); ke Bjrkman: French horn (12, 13); Putte Wickman: clarinet (12-17); Robert Edman: drums (12-17).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Dragon Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Storming Through the South" CD/LP/Track Review Storming Through the South
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "Les Deux Versants Se Regardent" CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Back Home" CD/LP/Track Review Back Home
by Mark F. Turner
Published: May 6, 2016
Read "Finding Love in an Oligarchy on a Dying Planet" CD/LP/Track Review Finding Love in an Oligarchy on a Dying Planet
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "When You Wish Upon a Star" CD/LP/Track Review When You Wish Upon a Star
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!