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Remembering Lars Gullin: The Sanda Church Concerts, 1998-2000

Jack Bowers By

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These handsomely recorded tributes to the legendary Swedish baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin serve as a reminder of what a superlative composer he was; the baker's dozen of beguiling melodies were written by Gullin, a musical genius who died in 1976 at age 48.

The sessions were recorded from 1998-2000 at Sanda Church in Gotland by three of Gullin's former colleagues—trumpeter Jan Allan, guitarist Rune Gustafsson, and bassist Georg Riedel—complemented by young vocalist Gunnel Mauritzson, who is heard on nine of the sixteen selections and co-wrote the diaphanous "Prologue" with Allan. Riedel was a member of Gullin's first group, a quintet, in 1953, while Allan and Gustafsson recorded with Gullin and played alongside him on many occasions dating back to 1954. The newcomer, Mauritzson, is an admirer and performer of Gullin's music who in 2002 was awarded the Gullin Society Prize for her interpretive work.

Several of these tunes—"Fine Together," "Lars Meets Jeff," and "Late Date," for example—could be jazz standards, and probably would be had Lars set up shop in America rather than remaining in Sweden. On the other hand, he surely would have lost something in passage, as an important part of his musical sensibility was derived from the folk songs of his native land. Gullin's writing, like his playing, was meticulously framed by his Swedish heritage.

This is a warm remembrance by four exceptionally talented musicians; it's hard to envision Gullin's music being played with greater awareness or empathy unless by Lars himself. If you're not familiar with Lars Gullin, a good starting point would be the excellent five-volume series on Dragon Records that canvasses his recording career from 1951-60 (and features such well-known names as Chet Baker, Zoot Sims, Frank Rosolino, Conte Candoli, Lee Konitz, Stan Levey and Rolf Ericson). If Lars Gullin were alive today, there'd finally be a word that personifies him—superstar.


Track Listing: Prologue; Fine Together; Subway; Silhouette; Lars Meets Jeff; Spelmannen spelar; Mazurka; Paradisets timma (Toka Voka Oka Boka); Waltz from "The Aching Heart of an Oak"; Happy Again; Late Date; Peter of April; K

Personnel: Jan Allan, trumpet; Rune Gustafsson, guitar; Georg Riedel, bass; Gunnel Mauritzson, vocals.

Title: The Sanda Church Concerts, 1998-2000 | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: J.A.M. Produktion


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