Various Artists Watch Out! Svensk Jazzhistoria Vol. 10 - Swedish Jazz 1965-69
(4 CD Box) Caprice Records
The late '60s were a time of transition for Swedish Jazz, as they were in the US and elsewhere, with John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman and other trailblazers taking the music into new and uncharted waters, echoing perhaps the chaotic social and cultural upheavals that were reshaping society at the time. The shifting moods and artistic innovations in contemporary music are neatly summarized in Volume 10 of Caprice Records' chronological survey of Swedish Jazz, Watch Out! (1965-69). In spite of the disclaimer that "it is almost impossible in an anthology of this kind, on four CDs, to give a fully representative view of Swedish Jazz from the latter part of the '60s, as "many of the recorded pieces were around twenty minutes long, the carefully shaped compilation paints a fairly broad yet credible picture of the overall direction in which Jazz in Sweden was moving as the stormy '70s approached.
The music is a blend of avant-garde and mainstream, with some space reserved, as usual, for the more traditional pre-bop New Orleans-style music that remained (and remains) quite popular among many Swedes. There are a number of new facespianists Bobo Stenson and Bernt Egerbladh, saxophonist Lennart Åberg, trombonist Kurt Järnberg and bassist Palle Danielsson among themalong with such well-known names as Arne Domnérus, Bernt Rosengren, Jan Wallgren, Eje Thelin, Bengt Hallberg, Jan Johansson, Rune Falk, Bosse Broberg, Monica Zetterlund, Putte Wickman, Lars Sjösten, Kjell Ohman, Ove Lind, Lars Erstrand, Rolf Ericson, Nils Lindberg, Jan Allan, Georg Riedel, Staffan Abeleen, Rune Gustafsson, Egil Johansen and others.
The great Lars Gullin makes only one appearance, playing solo piano on his own composition "Decent Eyes (Disc 4), as he was sidelined for most of the period with "personal problems of a chemical nature. Three visiting American stars are represented, pianist/composer George Russell ("Waltz from Outer Space, Disc 2), trumpeter Don Cherry ("Brotherhood Suite, Disc 3) and bassist Red Mitchell ("Pojken i grottan, Disc 3).
While a number of tracks veer into the realm of the experimental (even the normally sedate Radio Jazz Group tries its hand on Disc 3, and the adventurous Cherry sounds tame compared to some others), they are offset by spirited straight-ahead blowing by many of the above-named luminaries as well as Gunnar Fors, Börje Fredriksson, Erik Nilsson, Bertil Lövgren, Christer Boustedt, Erik Nörstrom, Lars Werner and big bands led by Ericson, Hallberg, Riedel, Johansson, Domnérus, Järnberg (one of whose members is a young Anders Lindskog), Bengt-Arne Wallin and Claes Rosendahl.
As for the trad groups (Blunck's Lucky Seven, Cave Stompers, Jazz Doctors, Kustbandet, Vieux Carré Jazzmen), they're just plain fun, even though "Dance of the Humble Bumble Bee by the Jazzmen is hands-down the set's worst-recorded track. There's even a touch of the blues on Disc 4 ("Sweet Mary Jane by Peps & Blues Quality).
Caprice has done its usual splendid job of providing extensive liner notes and background material. One booklet is devoted entirely to listings of personnel, recording dates, names of tunes, playing times and soloists, a second and larger one (112 pages in all, 107 in Swedish, five in English) to a concise review of Swedish Jazz from 1965-69. Speaking of playing times, none of the four discs is less than seventy-seven minutes long.
Sound quality, levels and balance are variable, as one would expect, but Caprice has gone the extra mile to renew the sound and make it acceptable, removing most of the unwelcome surface noise from what were originally vinyl recordings. There's slight distortion on a few tracks, but that's inescapable. Fans of Swedish Jazz who have heard some or all of the previous volumes in this series will surely want to check this one out.
Disc 1 Bengt Hallberg Orchestra: Sit Orjanslåten; Jan Johansson Quintet: Lapp-Nils polska; Bengt-Arne Wallin Orchestra: Hårgalåten; Georg Riedel Orchestra: Gubben u källinge tonte sej yver gärdi; Eje Thelin-Bengt Hallberg Quartet: My Favorite Things; Bosse Broberg-Lennart Åberg Quintet: What's This?; Bengt Ernryd-Jan Wallgren Quartet: Bhairavi; Gunnar Fors Quintet: Half and Half; Börje Fredricksson Quartet: Ballad for Laila; Börge Fredriksson Quintet: Prinsessans Brudvals; Eje Thelin Quartet: Not at All; Nisse Sandström Quartet: Vår I Danmark; Arne Domnérus Orchestra: Mobil (77:53).
Disc 2 Jan Johansson and the Jazzstudioorchestra: Till Exempel I: II: III; Monica Zetterlund: What's New; Gilbert Holmström Quintet: Göteborg Choir: Resan till Hellas; Staffan Abeleen Quintet: Dégagé; George Russell and the Emanon Storband: Waltz from Outer Space; Berndt Egerbladh Quartet: Sunday Morning; Lars-Göran Ulander Septet: Minus 38 Grader Celsius; Kurt Järnberg Quintet: Nahkiainen; Blunck's Lucky Seven: Up in Michigan; Cave Stompers, Lapprika Paprika; Jazz Doctors: Kusin Vitamin; Erik Norström Quintet: Start; Claes Rosendahl Orchestra: En gång jag seglar i hamm (78:14).
Disc 3 Lennart Åberg / Jan Johansson Trio: Willow Weep for Me; Radiojazzgruppen: Fem Spelor; Radiojazzgruppen: Go Go Go; Putte Wickman and Radiojazzgruppen: Planten un Blomen; Sven Hessle & Co., Grekisk Rapsodi; Bengt "Frippe Nordström: Solo för Sopransax; Don Cherry Quartet, Brotherhood Suite; Hansson & Karlsson: Namnlös; Roland Keijser Quartet: En solig dag på lander; Red Mitchell Trio: Pojken I grottan; Gunnar Lindgren in the Opposite Corner, Improvisationer över ett trema tillägnat Josef Suk; Lars Sjösten Octet: Gröndal; Kjell Ohman: Summerwind; Rolf Ericson Storband: The Swinger (78:55).
Disc 4 Enar Jonsson Sextet: Vals från Norra Lindome; GL Unit: Experience X; Peps & Blues Quality: Sweet Mary Jane; Vieux Carré Jazzmen: Dance of the Humble Bumble Bee; Kustbandet: Georgia on My Mind; Lars Werner and Hans Vänner: Cirklar och Trioler; "Ljudakrobaterna Fehling & Löfman: En Sommargrej; Bernt Rosengren Quartet: Fria improvisationer över turkista folkmelodie och avsnitt ur Brotherhood Suite; Leif Strand Kammarkör: Arne Domnérus, Intermezzo; Lars Gullin: Decent Eyes; Kurt Järnberg Storband: Gugge's Blues; Nannie Porres Quartet: You Don't Know What Love Is; Jan Allan Quintet: Odin's Eye; Nils Lindberg and the Radiojazzgruppen + sträkar: Watch Out! (78:38).