Lars Gullin: self-titled (1953-55) Emarcy


Track Selection: Bugs (Gullin)


Carl-Henrik Norin (ts), Lars Gullin (bs), Rolf Berg (g), George Riedel (b), Alan Dawson or Bo Stoor (d) recorded in Stockholm, Sweden on November 6, 1953 and January 26, 1955 for Metronome.


Sweden’s most famous baritone saxophonist, possibly its only baritone saxophonist, Lars Gullin and his 3rd album on EmArcy, from original Swedish Metronome recordings.

Gullin was voted new sax star of the year (1954)  by Down Beat, and many US musicians touring Europe played with Lars, including Chet Baker, James Moody and Stan Getz.

Like Gerry Mulligan, he doubled on baritone sax and piano. His baritone is heart-warming as well as swinging. Chet Baker recalled Lars in his later days “… Lars played with a lot more fire and a lot more authority in some ways than Gerry did …”. That’s Chet off Gerry’s Christmas Card list.

This is early Fifties Europe, and jazz has one foot firmly in swing, whilst the other is tapping, very Mulliganesque, and it wouldn’t surprise me if LARS GULLIN is an anagram of GERRY MULLIGAN (give or take a few letters)

Gullin recorded prolifically, and a selection of covers from Birka-Jazz show modern retro design and furnishing, as well as some  dodgy Viking stereotyping.With so much output I was surprised to never have heard of him until now. May be like British jazz, Swedish jazz was mainly for domestic consumption. Anyway I have done my bit to raise the Swedish flag. Go Stockholm! Any Sveedish followers of this blog are welcome to add or correct anything said here. My Sveedish is rubbish, you guys are great how you manage such good English, bravo.


I keep looking with envy at that tiered seated theatre audience, the men all in suit collar and tie, accompanied by wives and girlfriends (possibly both in progressive Sweden).  Amazing. Venue and audience like this simply do not exist any more, another time and place.

The last seated concert I went to in London’s South Bank, I don’t know why I bothered. Two hours of looking at the backs of people standing up in front of you, the aisles full of people from the (cheap) seats at the back who rush down the front to crowd the aisles and in front of the stage, blocking the view (of the expensive seats). Every idiot with a mobile phone was trying to record the concert to show off to their friends or upload to YouTube, while people with rubbish pocket cameras flash away to get blurry snapshots.Tallest guy in the auditorium gets to see the show, no one else. The music was great, the audience was rubbish.

One of the many reasons I treasure my front row seat between the Linn speakers, with long-dead “musicians in the room”, drinks cabinet to hand, and no rush to get the train home, because you are there already. With Van Gelder live recordings, you even get a great audience around you too.

Vinyl: MG 30162

Originally issued on a series of EPs in Sweden. Its a little bit crackly, but then it has had to survive the most grueling years for vinyl, the Fifties. Emarcy have to be the ugliest of labels. What on earth does the half-dissected frog signify?

The Matrix:

It is a US release and I don’t recognise the matrix style, but then I have only one or two Emarcy pressings




Collectors Corner

Source: London Suburban record store, neglected in a shelf, on account of there probably being hardly a soul in the 300,000 population of the borough who would know who Lars Gullin was, and be interested in vinyl. Inexpensive in the light of its VG condition. Heaven only knows how it made its way there.

10 thoughts on “Lars Gullin: self-titled (1953-55) Emarcy

  1. Thanks to various 10-inch LPs issued by Prestige Records in the 1950s, I first became aware of Lars Gullin and a handful of other Swedish musicians. I did not buy any American issues until much later because I preferred having the original Swedish issues. Unfortunately, I never came across any. Eventually, I bought several of Gullin’s EmArcy 10-inchers. The first I bought looked in near-new condition. I bought it decades ago at Jerry’s Record Shop in Pittsburgh for 99 cents. Since then, I have purchased a number of Dragon LPs and one Metronome set. I know so few jazz record collectors, I don’t know if Gullin is still an “unknown.” In the early 1950s, I did buy the Blue Note 10-inch 78 by The Swinging Swedes BN 1605 Summertime/Pick Yourself Up. Gullin is part of the personnel. I also have a copy of this on Esquire 78.

  2. Just found a nice copy of Lars Gullin Quartet- Emarcy 10″ on a trip to Chicago. VG $6.99 Seemed like a good deal. Gullin has a great tone, swedish cool. Listening to Vol. 1 of The Great Lars Gullin on Dragon now, worth checking out.

    • Only discovering now the Gullin feature in Ljc’ treasure chest. Unnecessary to add that Lars was a pan European phenomenon. Dutch recording major Philips did a Gullins album (30 cm) with Ake P. on trb. Vogue recorded him for France and the U.K. (to be issued in the US by Contemporary).
      The Swedish EP’s found their way to the U.S. on 10 inchers by Prestige and EmArcy.
      Noticed the silver rim on Ljc’ frog label. (Peculiar how the limeys are obsessed by frogs.)
      The Dragon albums are easy to find (gvfm).
      Congrats sqfrost with your purchase!

      • The Emarcy label design is the silver block image of a drummer viewed from above. Of course you knew that I knew that, sly humour. You have to get up early to beat Rudolf to the punch-line. I still think it’s frog-like.

  3. Oh, and may I add, LJC, that the “half-dissected frog” in fact is a drawing of a drummer a.k.a. the “Drummer Logo”? Look for EmArcy records on Jazzcollector or eBay; there they mention it all the time. My guess is that the Drummer Logo printed on a blue label with deep groove stands for a 1st pressing. Maybe the older cats here can elaborate?

  4. From 1945 to 1960, Mercury ran their own pressing plants in Chicago and St. Louis. Masters cut at these plants feature the style of matrix lettering seen on your pressing:

    My (uneducated) guess is that MF3 and MF4 reflect the third and fourth mothers made from the original master, although the website’s author believes that these indicate the 3rd and 4th masters (it seems to me unlikely that the pressing of a title on this small scale would have necessitated creating 3 additional masters).

    In 1960, pressing of Mercury/EmArcy moved to the gigantic RCA plant in Richmond, Indiana and subsequently the style of matrices changed:

    About half of my EmArcy LPs are RCA pressings and I am very happy with both the pressing and sound quality. These can sometimes be had for as low as $10-$20 US and are, in my opinion, some of the best bargains out there. The sound quality of the original recordings is stunning and how can you top $15 for Clifford Brown & Max Roach?

    I also stumbled across some interesting info about Irving Green and the origins of Mercury and there pressing plants via Google Books:

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