Today I'm going to tell you about one of the finest jazz albums recorded in the early '60s—an album that is likely unfamiliar to you but will surely become one of your favorites. The album is Trisection by Swedish composer, arranger and pianist Nils Lindberg. (Tomorrow I'll have an interview with Nils from Stockholm about the music.)
Sweden has a long jazz history and remains one of the oldest and most prolific jazz centers outside of the U.S. The country's relationship with jazz dates back to 1913, when its first jazz recordings were made in Stockholm, four years before our own in 1917. The song recorded was Alexander's Ragtime Band, by the Pinets Orchestra.
Over the years, American jazz musicians have traveled there. The first to record in Stockholm was Louis Armstrong, with his Hot Harlem Band, during a concert in October 1933. Benny Carter was in Stockholm next in 1936, Kenny Clarke in 1938 and Duke Ellington in 1939. Bebop made its way to Sweden in 1947 with Chubby Jackson, and Dizzy Gillespie was there in 1948. James Moody recorded there with his Swedish Crowns in 1949, a session that included I'm in the Mood for Love.
Swedish jazz musicians like baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin are revered by American fans who know their work. One of the finest is Nils Lindberg, 79 [pictured], who studied classical composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and is known today as a composer of jazz and classical, including a style that combines jazz, Swedish folk music and classical music.
His first jazz album was Sax Appeal (1960), backed by his Swedish Modern Jazz Group. His music and arranging owes a great deal to Woody Herman's reed-centric "Four Brothers" sound. Nils' band featured Rolf Billberg (as) Harry Backlund, Allan Lundstrom (ts) Lars Gullin (bar) Nils Lindberg (p) Sture Nordin (b) and Conny Svensson (d). It's a superb swinging recording with gorgeous sax writing and piano playing by Nils.
In December 1962, Nils recorded a magnificent album called Trisection, including American expatriate trumpeter Idrees Sulieman. What makes this 1963 release so special is its Birth of the Cool feel and Gil Evans influences, served up by beautiful, gentle reeds. The band includes Idrees Sulieman, Jan Allan (tp) Sven-Olof Walldoff (b-tp) Eje Thelin (tb) Olle Holmqvist (tu) Rolf Billberg (as) Bertil Lofdahl, Harry Backlund (ts) Erik Nilsson (bar) Nils Lindberg (p) Sture Nordin (b) and Sture Kallin (d).
Rather than continue to rave about this music, I should let you hear the first movement. Here's Trisection I (tomorrow I'll post a track from Sax Appeal)...
JazzWax tracks: You'll find three Nils Lindberg albums—including Trisection Suite—on a single download called Nils Lindberg: Essential Swedish Jazz Masters. You'll just have to rearrange the tracks a bit:
Sax Appeal—Curbits, Play for Love, Birdland, Brand New, Blues for Bill and Zodiac.
Trisection—Trisection I, Trisection II, Trisection III, Daydreaming, Ars Gratia Artis and Joker.
The rest is from Symphony No. 1 & Jazz From Studio A—with Benny Bailey (tp) Ake Persson (tb) Rolf Billberg (as) Bjarne Nerem (ts) Nils Lindberg (p,ldr) Georg Riedel (b) Egil Johansen (d).
You'll also find Sax Appeal and Trisection on a Swedish CD here. And a new CD release of Sax Appeal is available at eBay, with four previously unreleased tracks.
A special JazzWax thanks to Todd Selbert, who used Trisection in a blindfold test when I was over at his apartment a few weeks ago—and made me guess for over a half hour without success.
Bonus clip: Here's Lars Gullin, Nils Lindberg (interviewed and in concert) and alto saxophonist Rolf Billberg from a documentary on Gullin broadcast on Swedish television...