A year ago I visited the 2005 Copenhagen Jazzfestival. As a member of the International Associaton of Jazz Record Collectors we had also a kind of mini-jazzfestival at the Palace Hotel at the Radhusplatz in Copenhagen (Denmark).
On the 8th of July there were no concerts, but the next day we had a concert of Putte Wickman, the almost legendary Swedish clarinet player. He played with the Ernie Wilkins Almost Bigband.
Putte Wickman was born in 1924, so at this concert he was 81 years old. A complete big band, the name Ernie Wilkins Almost Bigband is just a name, was organized and seated in the limited space of the hotel. Ernie Wilkins was a well known US saxophone player, arranger and composer who lived in Copenhagen from 1979. In 1980 he founded this Almost Big Band. Ernie Wilkins died a few years ago and the Almost Big Band is now directed by Per Goldschmidt.
Putte Wickman played his clarinet, in front of the band, as if jazz music is the secret medicine that keeps you young-for-ever. I was impressed by his technique. The whole concert was recorded for television.
Last year I made a review about the Audio Park CD Modern Clarinet Stylists 1947 - 1953. On this great CD Putte Wickman plays five tunes, two from the late 1940s with his orchestra and three tunes from 1953 with a smaller group, his sextett. I learned how important he has been in creating a more modern style of clarinet playing. In 1948 he formed his sextett with Reinhold Svensson and made a lot of recordings in the 1950s with musicians like Jimmy Raney and Lars Gullin. He also performed with Svend Asmussen who was in the audience too to watch his old friend playing.
Putte Wickman died a half year ago January 2006.