Gunnar Bjorksten

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Born in Finland in the early '30s, this performer was raised by a mother who was a piano teacher. Gunnar Bjorksten, sometimes known as Hacke Bjorksten, started out as a clarinet player and then worked…
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Born in Finland in the early '30s, this performer was raised by a mother who was a piano teacher. Gunnar Bjorksten, sometimes known as Hacke Bjorksten, started out as a clarinet player and then worked his way down, adding a flute to the mission as an afterthought. In 1950 he began working as a member of Kenneth Fagerlund's band and four years later was leading his own group, a septet that performed in neighboring Sweden as well. The jazz crowd in the latter country took a liking to his efforts, awarding Bjorksten a top honor for one of his recordings in 1956.

As an alto saxophonist Bjorksten was highly influenced by Lee Konitz, mixing this up with the omnipresence of Stan Getz when it became a tenor saxophone that was being unpacked at gigs. Strangely enough, Bjorksten chose not to use his real name on what would have been his most important recording date, a session led by the fine bassist of much experience, Tommy Potter. When a lucky collector manages to find this slab, entitled Tommy Potter's Hard Funk without the slightest bit of braggadocio, there will inevitably be raving about "the great tenor sax solos of Woody Birch." While such a name might indicate the ultimate in roots music is at hand, the actual player on this record was Bjorksten.