Bengt “frippe” Nordstrom

Saxophones and clarinet, composer. Born July 13, 1936 in Stockholm. Died October 23, 2000 in Stockholm. Sweden. In 1985, Nordstrom told Carl Etzler that jazz “took care of me in a way no other thing or nobody else had ever done before”. In the 1980’s, Bengt told me that he listened to a lot of records over many years and then purchased a clarinet in 2005. Gradually, he began to be more interested in the newer musical trends. He was, as many of us, influenced by Ornette Coleman’s music in the late 1950’s. Bengt and I met at a school dance in Stockholm in 1959. While he enjoyed old jazz music from school bands, he was equally passionate about newer musicians like Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. Bengt Nordstrom had a remarkable experience listening to the music of these musicians. He had bought a white plastic instrument saxophone just like Ornette’s. Nordstrom was always there to help Coleman when he played at the Golden Circle, Stockholm, in November 1965. Nordstrom didn’t know much about jazz music or the techniques of playing them. Without being invited, he pushed his way onto the bandstands and began to play his music. It was completely against every rule and every musical language. He was a threat to the established jazz musicians and orchestras of Stockholm. There have been many times when I was sitting with Bengt at Fasching, Stampen (The Pawn Shop), and he would drum on the saxophone, waiting for an opening to enter the bandstand. It worked sometimes, but it didn’t always work. Nordstrom was most often a type of interval musician and was welcomed on the bandstand. However, not everyone opposed him. Many American jazz musicians who came to Stockholm and Gyllene Circle (the Golden Circle), really enjoyed what Nordstrom was doing. Don Cherry and Albert Ayler were among those who liked it, despite them being less well-known and hostile than Bengt Nordstrom. Once, Bengt performed a great duet on the Golden Circle’s plastic saxophone with Keith Jarrett, which was greatly appreciated by Dexter Gordon and others. In 1962, Bengt recorded a session live in Stockholm with Albert Ayler. Ayler’s first album. It featured Torbjorn Hultcrantz, on double bass, and Sune SPangberg, on drums. The album was released on Bengt Nordstrom’s label “Bird Notes” with the appropriate, if not inappropriate, name “Something Different !!!!!!”.”. This album is rare today, making it very hard to find. However, some tracks can be found on two CD’s, Sonet NNT CD 604 (I Remember April), Tune Up, Free and Softly as in Morning Sunrise, I Don’t Know What Time It Was, Moanin’ and Good Bait. Sune Spangberg explained to me in January 2002 that the recording session wasn’t planned at all. Ayler, Spangberg, and Hultcrantz were involved in an anarchic dance party at Skeppsholmen, the central Stockholm school. Nordstrom had brought simple equipment to record Albert Ayler’s first album. The two bop accompanists had never met before, playing together with Ayler, a revolutionary musician. Spangberg said that this recording session was an inspiration for him and a huge influence on his future playing. Nordstrom recorded Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and issued several of his own albums for Bird Notes. In the 1970’s Bengt Nordstrom was more involved in free jazz, both American and European. His white plastic sax of the Sixties was no longer enough. He began to play on various saxophones. In 1975, he founded the “Miljovardsverket”, an agency that included both professional jazz musicians as well as amateurs. Five recordings of Miljovardsverket’s music were made, and the titles of these albums were typical of Bengt Northstrom: The Shape of Musik To Come, Spontaneous Oreenie and Sounds of Life, Spaces and Places. Nordstrom was very happy with this free-jazz/free music project. He hated the nickname “Frippe” throughout his life, and refused to accept it. But now, he can live with it from time to time. Dragon Records’ 1984 album, “Now’s the Frippe Time”, was recorded with Jan Adefelt, Peter Axelsson and Peter Axelsson. Sunny Murray, Arthur Ayler’s 1965-67 drummer, toured Sweden with Arthur Doyle in spring 2000. They played together at the Glenn Miller Cafe, Stockholm on March 28th. Murray had made the decision that Nordstrom should be invited to join him the day before. You can listen to the music on Ayler Records aylCD002/FLC. The album begins with three pieces by Nordstrom. Spontaneous Creation parts 1-3. He plays alto sax. Murray and Doyle are the sole beneficiaries of the rest of this album. This was Nordstrom’s final recording. He died seven months later at a home for homeless persons, where he spent his last years of life. While Nordstrom was never able to find a steady audience for the radical music he created, his recordings were widely praised. The Golden Circle hosted a memorial concert that saw a large number of Stockholm jazz musicians. Bengt “Frippe”, Nordstrom is the recipient of the anniversary book of The Golden Circle. It was published on April 7, 2002 in memory of the opening night, and all that occurred at the Circle over five hectic years 1962-1967. from

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