Reference: FSRCD 5032
Bar code: 8427328650328
A Fresh Sound classic set available once again by popular request
"A major altoist and clarinetist in Sweden since the 1940s, Arne Domnérus traveled to the United States on an occasional basis in the 1990s. During September 2000, he played at the Jazz Bakery near Los Angeles and recorded this studio album, a tribute to Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn. A swing-to-bop stylist who sounds at home in a variety of settings, Domnérus is heard in top form throughout the dozen selections, all written or co-composed by the three giants who are the recipients of his tribute. Domnérus is joined by the talented Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren, bassist Tom Warrington, and drummer Paul Kreibich. Their repertoire alternates standards (including "The Jeep Is Jumpin'," "The Mooche," "In a Mellotone," and "Blood Count") with a few lesser-known pieces ("Barney Goin' Easy," "Me and You," and "Take Love Easy"). Domnérus often closely emulates Hodges on alto while still remaining true to himself; his clarinet playing has no obvious role models. The straight-ahead music is swinging, inventive, and quite enjoyable. Arne Domnérus, just three months shy of his 76th birthday at the time, shows that he deserves to be famous not only in his native Sweden but throughout the world."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
ARNE DOMNÉRUS: The saxophonist and clarinetist who played with Charlie Parker and Stan Getz
The alto saxophonist Arne Domnérus was one of the Swedish jazz greats. We have to be honest and admit that the Swedes left the British out of sight when it came to adapting to bebop, the new music that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie introduced in the mid-1940s. Sure, Tubby Hayes, our tenor player, was a sensation when he played in the land of the cool, but they had half a dozen tenor players who were almost as good, and as far as the other instruments were concerned, they trumped us at every turn.
There was a good reason. After the Second World War and until 1956 there was a total ban on Americanjazz musicians playing in Britain. During that time Domnérus and his mates were jamming happily with Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Clifford Brown, Quincy Jones, Bud Powell and the cream of the world's style-setters. So the Swedes moved easily to speak the new musical language while British musicians were condemned to learn it phrase by phrase from crackly 78 records.
But Domnérus was a giant in his own country before that. He led his first group in 1942 and began recording with Swedish bands in 1945. He first played with Charlie Parker at the Paris Jazz Fair of 1949 and then again when Parker toured Scandinavia in 1950. In 1952 he made a 14-minute short film, Arne Domnérus spelar, ("Arne Domnerus plays") where he was accompanied by the trumpeter Rolf Ericson and the baritone sax player Lars Gullin, both, like Domnérus, world-class players.
Throughout the 1950s, his fame spread through recordings with Swedish and international all-star bands and soon he became regarded as the leading alto saxophonist in Europe. He was also a fine clarinettist, his playing inspired by Benny Goodman and Barney Bigard, and he seemed equally at home in a variety of jazz idioms, cool and hot.
"Cool" jazz, played with little vibrato and low on emotional content, might have been invented for the Scandinavian temperament. But Domnérus was the exception although he could play ice cool in the manner of Lee Konitz, his real forte was more the driving melodic style of Johnny Hodges, and it was with this sound that he attracted the jazz multitude to the point that "Dompan", as he was nicknamed, became the Humphrey Lyttelton of Swedish jazz.
In 1966 he and his band provided the soundtrack for Nattlek (Night Games), a film version of her novel produced by Mai Zetterling. Domnérus's Jazz at the Pawnshop album, recorded in 1976, sold half a million copies when it was released almost unheard of for a European band and has continued to sell approximately 4,000 a year. It was a live recording made without rehearsal. Domnérus's collection of alto and piano duets on works by Duke Ellington, recorded with the pianist Bengt Hallberg in 1978, was a masterpiece.
Domnérus was a skilled musician, much in demand throughout his career for studio and radio work. He was a member of Harry Arnold's Swedish Radio Big Band from 1956 to 1965 and the leader of the group that succeeded it, Radiojazzgruppen, from 1966 to 1978.
His own band played everywhere, adapting to play with ballet and theatre productions, with choirs and symphony orchestras, and Domnérus appeared frequently as a soloist in various churches. He toured regularly in the United States, Japan and around Europe, and recorded separate albums with the Americans Clark Terry, James Moody, Jimmy Rowles and Joya Sherrill.
Steve Voce (October 2008)
Arne Domnérus, born Stockholm 20 December 1924; died Stockholm 2 September 2008
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