Around 1955 my parents replaced their radio set, which had served them well during the Second World and the years thereafter with a Philips radiogram. At that time radiograms had become something of a social status thing in middle class families.
Its arrival in our home opened up new horizons in particular for me and my mother. The only radio store in Hörby selling records was quickly ransacked. My first 78 was Glenn Miller’s In The Mood / American Patrol but one or two years later I discovered that there was this thing called EP and the acquisition of one called The President started a life-long affair with Lester Young. And more loves were to come.
Seeing my interest in jazz, my mother gave me Nat Hentoff’s Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya on my 15th birthday. This wonderful book widened my horizons on jazz further and so did Willis Connover and his Jazz Hour on the Voice of America, which I listened to most nights of the week during my teenager period.
The Philips radiogram served me well for my listening but suddenly I got aware that there were other options for this.
In the February 1958 issue of Orkesterjournalen (OJ) – the Swedish jazz magazine, which I had started to read a couple of months earlier – there appeared an article on something called “high fidelty”. The second one in the series dealt with turntables and the author particularly recommended a HMV 523 turntable. He characterized it as “in a class of its own” and high-lighted all its functionalities – 4 speeds, built-in stroboscope, fine-tuning of speeds etc.
It was made in Denmark and was distributed in Sweden by Elfa Radio & Television AB – a well known company for many generations of hifi and amateur radio addicts.
To get the sound, I connected the turntable to a Centrum radio, which had a dedicated input for this purpose.
This setup served me well for some ten years when it was replaced by a Thorens TD-125 MkII and a true integrated amplifier. I still have the records I played on the HMV 523 and they play well and are not too scratchy. A good mark for the turntable!
The OJ articles on hifi were written by a certain Benny Aaslund to whom I owe a lot of thanks. His articles in OJ triggered my interest in hifi but more importantly was also the man who stimulated and helped me to develop a good knowledge about Duke Ellington. Aaslund wrote the first discography of Ellington and started the Duke Ellington Music Society (DEMS) in the mid-seventies. I joined it in 1978 and benefited a lot over the years from its quarterly bulletin. They were (and still are) treasures of information about Ellington.
So this was a long story on why I ended up where I am today with interest in three areas.
1. Foremost it is of course the music itself. It is the core dimension which brings pleasure to one’s ears and senses. But this dimension goes beyond the listening. It is also about the people who creates and executes the music, the stylistic and historical development of it and its different genres and the theory of music.
My focus in this dimension is very much one of someone born in the early forties and this means that I am quite ignorant as regards jazz from the 1990’s and later. However, while I stay with my love for the jazz from the 20’s to the 60’s, in parallel I nowadays do my best to widen my horizons to get better acquainted with the current the current jazz scene.
2. Then there is the dimension of bringing music into the living room (or other places) and make it sound as almost hearing it live in a concert hall or a jazz club. This is of course very much about technology but also about creative people who find ways to make recorded or airwaves music sound better and/or made more accessible.
3. Finally, there is the music industry dimension – the social and economic factors that has shaped the growth of a mass market music (and media) industry and the many individuals who have driven the development of the industry.