Although most of the jazzmen who emerged in Sweden before World War II never became well known in the U.S., Sweden boasted a healthy jazz scene in the '30s. Adolf Hitler's Nazis on the right and Josef Stalin's equally repressive communists on the left would have loved to see jazz disappear from Europe altogether, but jazz would continue to have a loyal audience in Scandinavia, France and elsewhere in Europe. This two-CD set, which Stockholm's Caprice label put out in the late '90s, looks back on the Swedish jazz scene of 1937-39 and demonstrates that the country's swing era jazz ranged from the decent and the competent, to the excellent. The big bands of Hakan von Eichwalds, Ake Fagerlunds, Arne Hulphers, Sam Samsons and other Swedes heard on this 53-song collection may not be in a class with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw or Count Basie, but it's clear that they had mastered the rhythms and harmonies of jazz quite nicely and that the Swedes' love of jazz ran deep. Also quite pleasing are two sides by the Swedish Hot Quintet (Svenska Hotvintetten), one of the country's top small groups of the time. Caprice does a fine job of digitally remastering these vintage recordings, and the label has generously provided over 60 pages of liner notes (only four of which are in English). This set is as enjoyable as it is historically fascinating.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2