Storyville Records

Billberg, Rolf

Rolf Billberg (22 August 1930 – 17 August 1966) was a Swedish alto saxophone player active during the 1950s and 1960s. Rolf Billberg was born in Lund, Sweden on 22 August 1930 and grew up living with his mother in Gothenburg. At age 17 Billberg began playing clarinet and playing with the an Uddevalla military band for four years. He then made the switch to the tenor saxophone and worked with local bands in Visby, Borås and Gothenburg, going to Stockholm in 1954 to join the Simon Brehm orchestra. From 1954—1955 Billberg also worked with Lars Gullin and made some recordings with him. In 1955 he worked in Copenhagen, Denmark with the Lasse Wanderyd orchestra and later for the Ib Glindemann orchestra in 1956. From 1956—1957, Billberg was performing in various American clubs located in Germany and France with vibraphonist Vera Auer. It was during this period that Billberg made the switch to alto saxophone. In 1957 he began working with the Carl-Henrik Norin orchestra in Stockholm. Over the coming years he would work frequently in Copenhagen with groups such as the Jazz Quintet 60 and the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. Back in Sweden he continued his work with Lars Gullin and also worked frequently with trumpet player Jan Allan. In 1966 he joined the Danish Radio Big Band (led by Ib Glindemann), spending the summer in Gothenburg helping to look after his mother's hotel there. There he became seriously ill and died on his way to the hospital on 17 August 1966.

Recordings

Rolf Billberg: Rare Danish Recordings

The 75 min. of music on this CD (15 tunes) are comprised of six sessions recorded in studios in Copenhagen during 1956-66 - the last ten years of Rolf Billberg's life. Accompanying Swedish alto saxophonist Billberg on these sessions are the best of the modern Scandinavian jazz musicians of the time, including Lars Gullin, Jørgen Ryg, Atli Bjørn, William Schiöpffe and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. The repertoire includes a spiritual, jazz standards, be-bop favorites and two of Billberg's own compositions. Some of the music on this CD has never been previously released. Rolf Billberg was one of the absolute most prominent Scandinavian jazz musicians of the 50's and 60's. Billberg was a unique individualist, contrasting burning lyricism with cool distance in his style of playing - a style influenced mainly by Charlie Parker and Lee Konitz. All the tunes on this CD - from "Ol' Man River" to "Opus De Funk" - present brilliant work by Billberg. Rolf Billberg characterized Scandinavian modern jazz in the sixties. Listen to this CD and enjoy Scandinavian modern jazz at its best!