Rolf Billberg

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The call of the wild bebop summoned this Swedish reed player away from a life of concert and military band activity in the early '50s. Beginning in a military band in Uddevalla following the end of the…
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Artist Biography by

The call of the wild bebop summoned this Swedish reed player away from a life of concert and military band activity in the early '50s. Beginning in a military band in Uddevalla following the end of the second World War, Rolf Billberg was playing as a concert clarinetist when he first heard sides by Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano, innovators in the new jazz styles. By 1954 Billberg had found like-minded colleagues such as Simon Brehm and the extremely influential Lars Gullin. Billberg also crossed the bay to reach Copenhagen, where Danish boppers such as Ib Glindemann were happy to receive him. In all these contexts, Billberg blew tenor. In 1957 he switched to the alto saxophone and began working in countries such as France and Germany, playing in clubs catering to fans of American jazz. Around this time he began collaborating with Carl-Henrik Norin, followed a few years later by gigs and recording with the pianist, arranger and composer Nils Lindberg. Billberg has also been featured with American jazzmen visiting Scandanavia, soloing brilliantly on recordings Stan Kenton made with the Danish Radio Orchestra and coming off just as well on a good small combo session his buddy Gullin cut with the troublesome Chet Baker on trumpet. Billberg died soon after making the former recording. The Dragon label, providing typically great documentation of the Swedish scene, eventually came out with a collection of Billberg recordings from the '60s, the first record released under this artist's name.