FAME Review: Bernt Rosengren Big Band - Bernt Rosengren Big Band
Bernt Rosengren Big Band - Bernt Rosengren Big Band

Bernt Rosengren Big Band

Bernt Rosengren Big Band

Caprice Records - CAP21829

Available from Amazon.com

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

CD has afforded a good deal of cool old LPs to be reissued where attempting the same in vinyl would've proven to be prohibitive, and thus we've been treated to re-emerging masterpieces like Eric Salzman's neoclassical avant-garde Nude Paper Sermon / Wiretap (here), Heiner Stadler's outside jazz Brains on Fire (here), and then materials like this release made at 19 by a man who would become one of Sweden's mostly highly regarded jazz musicians, Bernt Rosengren, whose skills at that young age proved more than sufficient to attract Horace Parlan, who played with Mingus; trumpeter Tim Hagans, a Kenton / Herman vet; and the bubbling-under guitarist Doug Raney, son of Jimmy Raney, the man who replaced Tal Farlow in Red Norvo's trio. Pretty damn impressive on that alone.

The music here is classic atmospheric swing and balmy mellow fare, the latter as in Joe and Eye. Rosengren plays sax and flute and composed seven of the nine cuts in this 1980 LP debut, the Bernt Rosengren Big Band, and there are a lot of affinities to Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, and early Kenton. Bernt had been playing all through the 70s while penning charts, here for 19 players, and not only attracting top talent from across the seas and assembling virtually the cream of the crop in his homeland, not just being signed to a label, but also setting a standard, keeping the players happily ensconced (Hagan and Parlan played for years with him), and landing prime gigs at major halls.

As big band sounds go, this is straight ahead, coming off the Goodman / Miller / Dorsey years, cementing the tradition in Europe. Don't be surprised, in fact, if you find yourself grinning and also thinking of Ozzie Nelson and such, as there are generous portions of urbanity along with the solos and sideways chops. Though the 70s had seen markedly wild experimentation, Rosengren preferred classic fare that was well presented and highly integrated. His arrangement of Coltrane's Naima, for instance, is unusual, calling to metropolitan nightscapes rather than the more pastoral laybacks or wild blowouts the standard is oft given. The Caprice label is bringing this lost LP out for very good reason: it's solid as hell.

Track List:

  • Hip Walk
  • New Life
  • How Deep Is The Ocean? (Irving Berlin)
  • Joe And Eye
  • The Humming Bees
  • Naima (John Coltrane)
  • Autumn Song
  • Sad Waltz
  • Blues Nerves

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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