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The Birka Jazz Archive
Records we have bought and sold over the years - the rare and the beautiful!

Please note!
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

David Stone Martin

The photographic covers

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,
and more

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
Dutch jazz

Unique series of Polish jazz on Muza

Jazz labels around the world


Karin Krog and
Jan Garbarek
greats in Norwegian jazz

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.

    Rowland Greenberg

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 Karlsen´s orchestra.

    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 issued!

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.

Transitional period

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

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 Finnerud).

    Jan Garbarek
    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.

    Arild Andersen
    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.

    Jon Christensen
    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).

    Espen Rud
    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
    Photo:CF Wesenberg

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, Odin.

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 ever.

    Radka Toneff

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:
Norsk Jazzarkiv


The Norwegian Jazz Base
Norsk Jazz Arkiv

Norwegian Jazz Discography
Josh Berg

 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

 Masqualero   Label: Odin LP08   12" LP 1983
 Design: Bjørn Rybakken