Various Artists – European Jazz – Volume 02 – Scandinavia (2012)

FrontCover1At one time, the concept of “European Jazz” meant very little indeed. While jazz was developing in the USA in the 1920s, there was almost no European jazz to speak of. Some Americans – Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Sidney Bechet – came to Europe and made an impact there in the 1930s but it was not until the thirties that Europeans began to develop their own jazz significantly. Perhaps the most outstanding group was the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, formed in 1934, with its two virtuosos Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.

This group is not represented in this ten-CD boxed set, which suggests that the compilation is making no attempt at a historical survey. Indeed, it is difficult to know what this set is trying to do. It seems as if the compilers simply put together tracks to which they had access, and there is little attempt to provide a balanced view of European jazz. Nevertheless, this collection can be educative in opening our ears to some artists we may not have heard before. It also supplies a cross-section (albeit limited) of how Europeans developed jazz, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s.

Lasse Gullin

This compilation makes it clear that European jazz was very much influenced by the Americans. For example, the tenorist on track 2 of the third CD sounds very like Stan Getz, while the altoist on the third track betrays the influence of Charlie Parker. And the Michael Naura Quintet on the eighth CD could be mistaken for the Modern Jazz Quartet.

I can’t tell you who most of the individual musicians are, as detailed personnels are sadly not given. This is a nuisance, as I would like to be able to identify (for instance) the bongo Brandenburgplayer on track 9 of the fifth CD. However, one lesson of many tracks in this collection is that many Europeans learnt from the bebop pioneers – and from such groups as the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. As most of the tracks in this compilation come from the fifties and sixties, there is little individuality in the music from the different countries, as it was only later that they began to develop their own distinctive styles.

I shall not attempt to describe the music in detail but will simply pick out tracks, artists or groups of note. Most discs are devoted to particular countries …


… Another weakness of these selections is that they are often chosen from a narrow range of bands. Thus the second CD illustrates Scandinavian jazz with 15 tracks, of which ten are by The Swedish Modern Jazz Group, all taken from the same 1960 LP. At least it included Lasse Gullin and Nils Lindberg – two of Sweden’s best-known jazzmen. (by

Nils Lindberg

No, no, no … this compilation is not so weak, as we read above … it´s a great compilation with lots of rarities from the young European Jazz-Scene during the 50´and this time we hear great Jazz from Scandinavia ! Excellent stuff !



The Swedish Modern Jazz Group:
Harry Bäcklund (saxophone)
Rolf Billberg (saxophone)
Lars Gullin (saxophone)
Nils Lindberg (piano)
Allan Lundström (saxophone)
Sture Nordin (bass)
Conny Svensson (drums)


01. Lasse Gullin: Lotus Corniculatis (Gullin) 5.32
02. Max Brüel Quartet: Maxisme (Brüel) 3.27
03. Ake Persson: Nassi Goreng (Persson) 3.00
04. Lars Gullin Sextet: Half Nelson (Davis) 5.40
05. Rolf Billberg: Tautology (Billberg) 4.22

The Swedish Modern Jazz Group:
06. Birdland (Roland/Ventura) 5.32
07. Blues For Bill (Lindberg) 5.23
08. Brand New (Lindberg) 3.11
09. Cotton Tail (Ellington) 2.41
10. Curbits (Lindberg) 5.05
11. Just A Take Gullin (Billberg) 5.27
12. Moonlight In Vermont (Suessdorf/Blackburn) 3.06
13. Play For Love (Lindberg) 4.21
14. Taboo (Lecuona) 3.37
15. Zodiac (Lindberg) 4.30