Gilbert Holmström – tenor saxophone

Gilbert Holmström was born in Gothenburg in 1937. The Holmströms were a particularly musical family. Gilbert’s father played violin and piano and his mother also played the piano in the style of Teddy Wilson and sang. They had returned to Sweden in 1929 after a six-year tenure in California and with them they brought a trunk-load of American jazz 78rpm records by Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke and others. The contact with jazz music at an early stage had a strong and lasting effect upon Gilbert and his elder brother Chris (1930 – 1995) and in their early youth the boys began to take part in musical activities, both playing clarinet and saxophone. Gilbert heard Charlie Parker’s concert at Gothenburg’s Concert Hall (Konserthus) in the autumn of 1950, an event which left an unforgettable impression upon him. He later moved to Malmö in 1956 to begin studying to become a dentist, at the same time taking up alto saxophone studies at Malmö conservatory under the tutorship of Erik Lövgren, alongside another pupil – Helge Albin, now leader of Tolvan Big Band.

In 1958 Gilbert joined Lasse Lindström’s sextet, and returning to Gothenburg in 1961 he began playing in a quintet with tenorist Thomas Fehling. During the next few years Gilbert made the transition to playing tenor sax and in 1964 he formed his own quintet, which was strongly influenced by such free-form musicians as Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp (LP: “Utan Misstankar”, 1965). In 1972 the quintet changed its name to Mount Everest and focused on fusion-jazz/rock (“Mount Everest”, 1972). Kjell Jansson was the bass player and Lars Jansson the pianist, both now established among the Swedish jazz elite. In 1975 the group became a trio concentrating once again on expressive acoustic free-form jazz (LP: “Waves From Albert Ayler”, later issued in 2000 on CD).

In 1979, with the arrival of band members Ronny Johansson, piano, Matz Nilsson, el-bass, and Anders Kjellberg, drums, the music took on once again a more fusion-style direction (LP:”Jazz I Sverige-79″). In 1980 Michael Andersson replaced Kjellberg and the music moved towards a more Latin flavour (LP: “Latin Doll”, with all compositions and arrangements by Gilbert Holmström). In the same year Gilbert joined with his brother Chris in a quintet recording which combined the harmonic finesse of bebop with a funk-beat and featuring Lars Jansson once again on the piano (LP: “Garden Talk”). By 1983 the Latin style of Mount Everest had become even more pronounced with the presence of conga player Arturo Trujillo (LP: “Latin Blue”). The same year Gilbert confounded the critics by forming a quartet where he played alto sax in the Konitz-Tristano tradition, and in which Yasuhito Mori was the bassist (LP: “Isobop”- which was also the name of the group). Later in the ’80s the groups Mount Everest and Isobop ceased in their activity and Gilbert concentrated on running the Jazz Gallery (Jazzgalleriet) in Gothenburg where exhibitions and concerts were organized, including a short tour with Lee Konitz.

The ’90s have seen Gilbert once more as an active jazz musician in groups led by his colleagues, drummer Gunnar Petterson (CD:”Boplicity”, 1998) and bassist Kjell Jansson (Touché Music TMcCD 009: “Back From Where We Came”, 1998) as well as leading his own quartet featuring pianist Tommy Kotter, bassist Peter Jansson, and drummer Raymond Karlsson, as well as his wife Ulla Carin Holmström, vocal (CD: “Love Letters, 1998).

Compilation: Charles Gavatin
Translation: Dave Castle

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