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Claes-Göran Fagerstedt

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This artist, whose name would easily roll off the tongue of a native Swede, is an important part of the generation that moved the Scandinavian land's jazz scene forward stylistically, from repetitive trad jazz echoes of New Orleans to the modern jazz improvising of players such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. On the subject of strong tenor saxophone players, pianist Claes-Goran Fagerstedt has been credited with discovering one of the great Swedish tenor players, Bernt Rosengren. This and many other accomplishments took place while Fagerstedt tended to his real business, selling textiles. Jazz has remained pretty much a part-time interest for this artist, a surprise considering his range of accomplishments and hefty discography. The pianist had his own group early in his career, from 1949 through 1953, gigging prior to that in a combo fronted by Nisse Skoogh. He would return to leading his own combo at other points in his career, including the late '50s, but was also a frequent partner of the fine baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin. Fagerstedt's playing has been well documented on record with more than 40 sessions between the mid '50s and mid '80s. The catalog of the Sonet label is a good place to start when assessing this keyboardist's contributions, a friendly smorgasbord of dogma to nibble from the major temples of jazz piano: some Thelonious Monk, some Bud Powell, and of course the sweet lyricism of Bill Evans, always of great appeal in the land of "pengar, pass och p-piller." (That's Swedish for the pat-down of things one shouldn't forget -- billfold, passport, and birth control pills.) ~ Eugene Chadbourne