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About Gunnar Bergsten

Although not well known in American jazz circles, Gunnar Bergsten is among Sweden's finest baritone sax players and commands a great deal of respect among Scandinavian jazzmen. The melodic and recognizable Bergsten is sort of a middleweight champion of the baritone -- he has a bigger tone than Gerry Mulligan, but he isn't as aggressive or hard-blowing as Cecil Payne or Pepper Adams. Bergsten started to make a name for himself in the 1960s, when he attended the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm before playing in the bands of trumpeter Rolf Ericson and tenor saxophonist Bernt Rosengren. The 1970s found Bergsten continuing to record and play with Rosengren extensively and becoming a sideman for pianist Lars Sjosten. Bergsten also worked with Sjosten a lot in the 1980s, when he was part of saxman Tommy Koverhult's quartet. In the 1990s, Bergsten recorded for Stockholm's Arietta label as a leader and led a quartet of his own that included pianist Peter Nordahl, basssist Patrik Boman and drummer Leif Wennerstrom. It was in 1996 that Rosengren featured Bergsten promienently him on his acclaimed Arietta date Porgy and Bess, which provided jazz arrangements of the music from that George Gershwin musical. The excellence of Bergsten's Arietta output indicated that he deserved to be much better known in the U.S. ~ Alex Henderson