On Internet since 1999
The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!
Birka Jazz record store is closed but Birka Jazz Archive is still available. Scroll down and use the links to browse this comprehensive archive of rare jazz album covers
The pioneers of album cover design
CLEF, NORGRAN, VERVE (1)
David Stone Martin
CLEF, NORGRAN, VERVE (2)
The photographic covers
BLUE NOTE 10" LPs
Searching for a modern jazz identity
BLUE NOTE 1500 series
Defining the hard bop style
BLUE NOTE 4000 series
Masterpieces of Reid Miles
Images of East Coast jazz
Street cred with Thelonious Monk
Moods of Chet and Claxton
Cool West Coast, great Sound
Masterworks by Charlie Parker
Small label, big Bird sound
Bold and striking albums
The classic drummer logo label
The beautiful design of Burt Goldblatt
Artist-operated jazz label with Mingus & Roach
Legendary, early 1960s LPs
Free jazz and silk screened covers
Edgy and experimental
The high spirit of Jim Flora
VARIOUS US labels (1)
ABC-Paramount, Aladdin, Argo, Capitol, Coral, Dawn, Decca,
VARIOUS US labels (2)
Epic, Fantasy, HiFi, Imperial, Jazzland, Jazz West, Jubilee, Mercury, Mode, and more
VARIOUS US labels (3)
Roost, Signal, Storyville, Tampa, Transition, United Artists, Vee Jay, and more
The EP era and Metronome Records in 1950s
The LPs in the 1950s, and Swedish jazz abroad
Changing times in the 1960s
New energy to Swedish jazz in the 1970s
Montmartre, Debut Records and the heydays in Danish jazz
Krog and Garbarek, greats in Norwegian jazz
Plenty of merged styles in Finnish jazz
Americans in Paris, force in French jazz
Esquire and Tempo, classic labels in British jazz
Jazz labels with strong identity
Rare Italian jazz covers
From Diamonds to ICP in
Unique series of Polish jazz on Muza
Jazz labels around the world
Karin Krog and
While jazz LPs was regulary produced on records in Sweden and Denmark, the Norwegian record companies were
reluctant to record jazz. The first Norwegian LP came in 1963 on the Harmoni label with the title "Metropol Jazz".
It contains music of 11 different groups. The first LP by a single artist was made by Karin Krog,
"By Myself" on Philips in 1964.
greats in Norwegian jazz
It has been many ups and downs in the life of jazz in Norway. In the 1950s, it was up. The front figure was trumpeter Rowland Greenberg, one of Norways
most prominent jazz musicians of all time. He came from the swing tradition, bud have
ears for modern playing. He often brought young drummer Egil "Bop´ Johansen
in for gigs, and regulary played with modernist Mikkel Flagstad.
Other modern jazz musicians in the 1950s were Einar Iversen, Totti Bergh, Erik
Amundsen, Karl Otto Hoff, Atle Hammer among others. Many of them played in the best big band of the era, Kjell
Totti Bergh and Bjørn Johansen
in Kjell Karlsens orchestra in 1957
Photo: Stig Gabrielsson
Stars in Sweden
Some Norwegian musicians were established in Sweden. Rowland Greenberg had been there already in the
1940s, Bjarne Nerem as well. Mikkel Flagstad played in Simon Brehm´s band a copule of years,
so also did Bjarne Nerem and Egil Johansen. Nerem and Johansen went to Arne Domnerus and both
become central figures in Swedish jazz life for many years.
Bjarne Nerem and Mikkel Flagstad in
Sweden in the 1950s
As mentioned, the first Norwegian jazz LPs were issued in the 1960s. But recordings were of course made
also in the 1950s, on 78s and 45 rpm EPs. But during the whole decade, only a total of about 125 titles were
High jazz life at the Metropol
Even if the record companies where reluctant to record jazz, there was a high level of activity
in Nowegian jazz life in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1960 there were around 30 jazz clubs in the
country. Jazz was played six days a week at the Metropol in Oslo and Hotel Neptun in Bergen. In
1961 the first Norwegian jazz festival was opened in Molde.
Many foreign jazz stars visited the Norwegiean festivals and clubs. Metropol was regulary guested by the same musicians
who played Gyllene Cirkeln in Stockholm and Montmartre in Copenhagen, and players such as Stan Getz, Bud Powell
and Dexter Gordon could have week-long engagement.
Stan Getz and Jan Johansson
at the Metropol 1960
But the first living period in modern Norwegian jazz came to an end in the mid 1960s. In 1965 only a handful of clubs were
still in existence, and even Oslo´s Metropol Jazz House closed after years of activity. The fall in
interest was linked to the growing interest in rock music, and to the musical developments in jazz itself
from dance music to art music.
Most musicians were still around, but the opportunities to play for an audience had fallen. So the second half of the 1960s
was a transitional period in Norwegian jazz, before the golden age in the 1970s.
The musician-led organization Norwegian
Jazz Forum started presenting concerts, and the follow-up to Metropol, The Down Key Club, opened in Oslo in 1965.
Other clubs, like Club 7, gradually started presenting important jazz acts beside other programming such as rhythm &
blues. Some of the Norwegian musicians were more in demand on the international scene, like Karin Krog, Bjørn
Johansen, Ole Jacob Hansen and Jan Garbarek.
Karin Krog around the world
Karin Krog had a great international reputation already in the 1960s. She performed at the jazz festival in Antibes in 1964,
at Gyllene Cirkeln in Stockholm, where she was an one-week attraction with a Swedish group led by Rolf Billberg. She also appeared at festivals in Warsaw, Prague and Montreux. She won a Down Beat Poll in 1967 and toured in
Japan in 1970.
Otherwise, only some few LPs were issued in Norway this period, two of them on the intiative of Norwegian Jazz Forum (Egil Kapstad and Svein
Photo: Terje Engh
New movements led by Jan Garbarek
Around 1970 there were new movements in Norwegian jazz, and it was the younger musicians, led by Jan Garbarek, who caught the fans interest.
Since a couple of years he had a trio, with Arild Andersen and Jon Christiansen, which in 1969 become a quartet
whith Terje Rypdal. Garbarek met the German producer Manfred Eicher which resulted in the album Afric Pepperbird
on the ECM label.
Photo: Arthur Sand
In 1972 Garbarek appeared with a new quartet including Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson and bassist
Palle Danielsson. Around the same time Garbarek also started a long collaboration with Keith Jarrett. Both Danielsson
and Christiansen joining them in a unit, known as Jarrett´s Nordic Quartet.
Photo: Tom Martinsen
The success of Jan Garbarek was a great inspiration for other Norwegian musicians. His play mates, Arild Andersen
and Terje Rypdal, soon chose their own musical paths. Rypdal was inspired by rock music, and contemporary classical music
as well. Anderson formed his first quartet in 1974, with Knut Risnaes on tenor sax. Jon Christiansen established himself
as a drummer with his own distinctive sound, in a number of Norwegian as well as international ensembles.
Terje Rypdal in 1979
Photo: Oscar C. Neubauer
These Norwegian musicians created music within a stylistic frame that was to develope into a European direction in
international jazz. This direction was associated with recordings issued on the ECM label. The owner
and producer Manfred Eicher played an active part in forming the final musical
The Norwegian sound of ECM
ECM also came to be associated with Norway through its clear and crisp sound. Sound technician Jan Erik Kongshaug
contributed greatly to this, first in Oslo´s Talent Studios, and later in Kongshug´s own Rainbow Studios.
But jazz in Norway contained much more than this. The free jazz and the rock elements in jazz led to a stylistically much wider picture than earlier.
In Oslo, the Club 7 environment included a string of musicians playing both modern jazz and r&b-influenced music. Among
these were musicans such as Calle Neuman (alto sax), Christian Reim (piano) and Espen Rud (drums).
Photo: Arthur Sand
A larger group of musicians were to be found within the bop and mainstream styles. It was musicians such as Egil Kapstad,
Terje Venaas, Bjørn Johansen, Knut Risnaes, Per Husby, Asmund Bjørken, Thorgeir Stubø,
Laila Dalseth among others.
Trumpeter Rowland Greenberg was still the dominant figure in the older tradition of jazz. Other musicians in this style
were pianist Øystein Ringstad and tenor saxophonists Kristian Bergheim and Totti Bergh among others.
One of the jazz centres of Europe
An important feature of the 1970s was that many of the new bands worked as more permanent units. This was connected
to the growth in number of clubs and the resulting increase in touring possibilities. Towards the end of the 1970s,
around 45 clubs were in operation, and Oslo was concidered one of the jazz centres of Europe.
In the 1980s the situation gradually changed. Many jazz clubs found it hard to survive. In the early 80s only around
10 clubs existed. In 1985 the Club 7 had to close the doors. It had played a central role all through the 70s.
But the European influence on jazz and improvised music increased, and the Norwegian contributions took an important
part in this development. The new Nordic sound came mainly from Norway and less from Sweden and Denmark.
Jan Garbarek´s music was an important domestic source, with its open and lyrical quality using simple themes from folk music
around the world.
Among other musicians who formed the new jazz in Norge were
Nils Petter Molvaer, Karl Seglern, Sidsel Endresen, Bugge Wesseltoft, the quintet Masqualero and the trio Jøkleba.
Jøkleba with Per Jørgensen, Jon Balke
and Audun Kleive
In the 1970s, hardly any recordings of new modern Norwegian jazz were issued, outside the ECM label. But it changed in the
1980s. After a short-lived attempt on the Nordisc label, Norwegian Jazz Forum decided to establish its own label,
The first Odin production in 1981 featured Thorgeir Stubø´s quintet, and by the mid 1990s some 50 issues
had been produced. Singer Radka Toneff´s album Fairy Tales become the best-selling Norwegian jazz production
Guitarist Jon Larsen started Hot Club Records in 1982, orginally based on his own band Hot Club de Norvège. Shortly
thereafter producer Bjørn Larsen formed the Gemini label.
Text and photo source:
The Norwegian Jazz Base
Norsk Jazz Arkiv
Norwegian Jazz Discography
Karin Krog: By Myself
Label: Philips 631 062PL 12" LP 1964
Verlden rundt's All Star Band 1955
Label: RCA REP-302. 7" EP c.1956
Rowland Greenberg with Rolf Larsson Quintet. Recorded and issued in Stockholm.
Label: Columbia SEGS 19 7" EP 1956
Norwegian All Star with Rowland Greenberg, Mikkel Flagstad a.o.
Label: Triola TNEPL 1.
7" EP 1958
Soundtrack EP from 1960: Line - Passionate Demons
Label: Warner Bros EP 2000.
Recorded in Oslo by Don Byas with Norwegian musicians
Kjell Karlsen Big Band
Label: Viking Music VM 27 7" EP 1963
Metropol Jazz: Jazz Sounds from Norway
Label: Harmoni H 505 12" LP 1963
First Norwegian jazz LP ever.
Rowland Greenberg Quartet
Label: Harmoni HEP-9 7" EP 1963
Karin Krog - Public Enemies: Sunny
Label: Sonet T 9525 7" EP 1966
Jan Garbarek: Til Vigdis
Label: Norsk Jazzförbund NJFLP-1 12" LP 1967
Design and photo: Jan Knutzen
Terje Rypdal: Bleak House
Label: Polydor 184 189 12" LP 1968
Egil Kapstad: Syner
Label: Norsk Jazzforum LP1 12" LP 1968
Svein Finnerud Trio
Label: Norsk Jazzforum JF 5 12" LP 1969
Design: Bjørnar Andersen Photo: Arthur Sand
Karin Krog: Joy
Label: Sonet SLP-1405 12" LP 1968
Design: Fred Noddelund Photo: Knud Lono
Karin Krog: Break of Day in Molde
Label: Sonet T 9541 7" EP 1969
Svein Finnerud Trio: Plastic Sun
Label: Sonet SLP-1406 12" LP 1970
Karin Krog - Dexter Gordon
Label: Sonet SLP-1407 12" LP 1970
Design: Chris Olesen Photo: Jan Persson
Jan Erik Vold / Jan Garbarek: Hav
Label: Philips 6507 002 12" LP 1970
Jan Garbarek Quartet: African Pepperbird
Label: ECM 1007 (Germany) 12" LP 1970
Design: Barbara Wojirsch
R. Greenberg: Swing Is The Thing
Label: EMI Columbia E062-37054 12" LP 1970
Photo: Tore Fredenlund
George Russell: Electronic Sonata
Label: Flying Dutchman 10124 (USA) 12" LP 1971
Recorded in Oslo 1969 with Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal a.o. Cover art: Anna Russell
Webster Lewis: Live at Club 7
Label: Sonet SLP 1417-18 12" LP 1971
Design: Ellen Wilhelmsen
Bjarne Nerem: How Long Has This Been Going On
Label: EMI Odeon E062-34320 (Sweden)
12" LP 1971
Photo: Christer Landergren
Jan Garbarek: Witchi-Tai-To
Label: ECM 1041 (Germany) 12" LP 1973
Design: Barbara Wojirsch
Karin Krog: You must believe in spring
Label: Polydor 2382 044 12" LP 1974
Photo: Odd Geir Sather
Gershwin with Karin Krog
Label: Polydor 2382 045 12" LP 1974
Design and Photo: Ingolf Holme
Karin Krog: We Could Be Flying
Label: Polydor 2382 051 12" LP 1974
Frode Thingnaes: Feelin' All Right
Label: Polydor 2382 055 12" LP 1974
Photo: Odd Geir Saether
Jan Garbarek: Østerdalsmusikk
Label: MAI 7510 12" LP 1975
Karin Krog - Archie Shepp: Hi-Fly
Label: Compendium Fidardo 2 12" LP 1976
Design: Fred Nøddelund
Bjarne Nerem: Everything Happens To Me
Label: RCA Victor YNPL 1-732 12" LP 1976
Photo: Arve Ringen
Karin Krog: Different Days
Label: Philips FDX-202 12" LP 1976 (Japan)
Design: Kantaro Hoshino Photo: Helge Westbyer
Per Husby: Peacemaker
Label: StudS PHLP 771 12" LP 1976
Radka Toneff: Winter Poem
Label: Zarepta / Sonet 1439 12" LP 1977
Photo: Arild Haugen
Laila Dalseth: Glad There Is You
Label: Talent TLS-3045 12" LP 1978
Karin Krog - John Surman: Cloud Line Blue
Label: Polydor 2382 093 12" LP 1979
Cover art: Jan Kristofori
Radka Toneff: It don´t come easy
Label: Zarepta ZA 34015 12" LP 1979
Design: Bruno Oldani Photo: Svein Christiansen
Radka Toneff - Steve Dobrogosz: Fairy Tales
Label: Odin LP03 12" LP 1982
Design: Anne Toneff
Label: Odin LP08 12" LP 1983
Design: Bjørn Rybakken