Bengt Hallberg

All Star Sessions 1953-1954

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The Dragon label has done an impeccable job of reissuing vintage Swedish jazz, particularly music that features the great baritonist Lars Gullin. On this particular CD, the excellent bop pianist Bengt Hallberg is the actual leader on two of the three sessions, providing the arrangements for groups that also include such notable soloists as trombonist Ake Persson, altoist Arne Domnerus and clarinetist Putte Wickman. The other set, two takes apiece of "Red Wails in the Sunset" and "Doe Eyes," was organized by critic Leonard Feather and has Gullin, Hallberg, and sometimes three other horns in a group with American bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Bobby White. Overall, the three projects work together well for the music is essentially 1950s cool jazz, a style that was quite popular in Sweden. There are seven alternate takes included among the 17 performances but, due to the high quality of the jazz soloists, that should not bother any collector of '50s jazz. It is always a pleasure to hear these classic musicians in prime form.

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