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Bernt Rosengren

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Greatly influenced by Sonny Rollins, Bernt Rosengren has been one of Sweden's most respected tenor saxmen since the 1950s. The big-toned, hard-blowing improviser was 19 when he started to make a name for himself in Scandinavia as a member of the quintet Jazz Club 57, and at 21, he was hired to represent Sweden in the Newport Jazz Band in the U.S. In 1961, his tenor was heard in American director Roman Polanski's debut film, Knife in the Water. Over the years, several of Rosengren's albums topped Swedish jazz polls, including Stockholm Dues in 1965, Improvisations in 1969, and Notes From the Underground in 1974. It was during the mid-'60s that Rosengren played alongside trumpeter Thad Jones in a sextet led by American pianist George Russell, who was living in Europe at the time. Although he started out playing hard bop and never gave it up, he got more into post-bop experimentation in the late '60s, when trumpeter Don Cherry was in his quartet, and the early to mid-'70s, when he combined jazz with Turkish and Middle Eastern folk as part of the group Sevda. In 1975, he played regularly with Swedish baritone saxman Lars Gullin and formed his own big band. The 1980s found Rosengren working with American hard boppers ranging from guitarist Doug Raney to pianist Horace Parlan. And in the 1990s, his activities included a jazz salute to the music from Porgy & Bess (The Bernt Rosengren Octet Plays George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess) and being featured prominently on the great Swedish trumpeter Rolf Ericson's final recording before his death, I Love You So (1995, Amigo). Turning 60 in 1997, Rosengren still played with the energy and stamina of a young man. ~ Alex Henderson

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December 24, 1937 in Stockholm, Sweden

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s