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
Charlie Parker at Nalen 1950
The EP era and Metronome Records in the 1950sAlmost all recordings in Sweden in the 1950s were issued on EPs, the little 7" 45rpm album. The leading record label was Metronome, which released about 500 albums during the decade, most of them jazz records.
In the 1950s Sweden was kind of the center of European jazz. Lots of gifted musicians had plenty of venues to play, and could make their living on jazz. Jazz was still the young people´s music, and there were huge and interested audiences. There were radio programs, special jazz magazines and also jazz features and reviews in weekly magazines and daily newspapers. And there were an abundance of jazz records.
Many Americans visited the country, played in concerts and clubs and made recordings with the domestic stars. The best Swedish musicians became wellknown over the jazz world.
HMV EP from 1956: "A Night at Nalen"
Jazz every night from three stagesThe top jazz activities were concentrated to Stockholm, and the number one jazz club was Nalen. In fact a dance saloon but with three stages, from where jazz was playing every night by the Swedish top musicans plus American guests such as Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz and many others.
METRONOME RECORDS was founded in Stockholm 1949 by the jazz drummer Anders Burman, his brother Lars and a friend, Börje Ekberg. A Danish division was founded in 1950 and a German in 1954.
Starting with 78s, the first 10" jazz LP was issued in 1951. Another about 10 LPs followed, before the first EP-album was released in 1953. This format was dominated into the early 1960s then the 12" LP broke through.
Then, in the 1960s, Metronome more and more went to pop music.
Stig Söderqvist was the house designer at Metronome. He was also known as a top jazz musician, playing trumpet and valve trombone with Bernt Rosengren and others. Söderqvist created hundreds of covers for the label, sometimes with excellent liner drawings which shows affenity to the works of David Stone Martin.
Bengt H. Malmqvist was the most hired photographer. Daytime he worked for newspapers, but spent the nights on jazz clubs and concert halls. With his camera he documented almost every visting american jazzstar in Stockholm in the 1950s.
The pictures were sold to the Swedish jazz magazine Orkester Journalen and the English Melody Maker. Bengt H. Malmqvist was soon discovered by Metronome and his career went to specializing in album cover photography for many years. He made more than 700 covers into the early 1990s.
Malmqvist´s many EP cover photographs are a true documentary of Swedish jazzlife in the 1950s. He also documented the early Swedish rock&roll scene, and later became a portrait master of Swedish pop stars.
Bengt H. Malmqvist 1960
Stig Söderqvist in the 2000s
SONORA was the first Swedish label to make a considerable venture on jazz in Sweden. Swing was the thing in the late 1930s and Sonora started a Swing Series. It became a success and a lot of jazz records were produced at the time.
The leading orchestras were Arne Hülphers and Häkan von Eichwald, and (from the early 1940s) Thore Ehrling and Seymor Österwall. There were also small groups like Sonora Swing Swingers (fomed by Thore Jederby), Svenska Hotkvintetten and Nisse Linds Hot-trio, and soloists such as Zilas Görling, "Smyget" Redlig, Gösta Törner among others.
The most renowned vocalist was Alice Babs, who had an explosive effect on the Swedish jazz life. For the first time Sweden had a singer who aproached American swing music with the right feeling! She was only 15 year old when she made her first recording for Sonora in 1939. Then she become the great teenage idol of the 1940s in Sweden.
The Sonora label was started in 1932 by Erik Ljungberg. It was sold in 1958 to Philips.
CUPOL was launched in 1947 by Helge Roundquist. He had worked as producer at Sonora in many years and was the man who discovered Alice Babs. And many artists followed him when he launched his own label.
Cupol recorded mainly Swedish popular artists but made some jazz recordings in the 1950s and 60s. The label was sold to CBS in 1970.
ODEON was from beginning a German label, launched in 1903. It was purchased in 1910 by Carl Lindström, a Swedish businessman settled in Berlin. Odeon recorded in Berlin for the Swedish market, later also in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki. The label was sold in 1926 to the English Columbia and was from 1957 a part of EMI.
SONET was a Swedish-Danish collaboration launched in mid 1950s. The founder was Anders Dyrup in Copenhagen and the two Swedes Sven Lindholm and Gunnar Bergström.
Soon included was also Karl Emil Knudsen, who brought his Danish jazz label Storyville into the new record family, as well as Dan Haeggqvist whose contribution was the Swedish label Gazell.
From beginning a small jazz label, Sonet quickly expanding to a wide variety of music. The organization later established branches in England and Norway, as well as publishing houses and film and video productions.
The company get insolvent in the early 1990s and was sold to PolyGram. But both Storyville and Gazell later emerged again as independent record companies.
KARUSELL was started by the Swedish bassplayer and bandleader Simon Brehm in 1952. Mostly a label for pop music, but also jazz. Worth mention is the co-operation with Norman Granz. Among other things it came to some recordings by American musicians in Sweden. Simon Brehm died in 1967 and Karusell was sold to Polygram.
Bengt Hallberg and Lars Gullin
Arne Domnerus, James Moody and Gösta Theselius
Hacke Björksten and Åke Persson
Swedish jazz magazines 1950s
Catalogue Gazell Records early 1950s
The trumpet section in Lionel Hampton´s band with Art Farmer, Quincy Jones and Clifford Brown, all whom made recordings while in Sweden in 1953
Record store in Stockholm 1950s
Swedish jazz 1950s (2)
Swedish jazz 1960s
Swedish jazz 1970s
Swedish Jazz Discography
Swedish jazz webzine
The Lars Gullin Website
Lars Gullin Special
Lars Gullin Quartet
Label: Metronome MEP 199 7" EP 1956
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