The Vedbod Tapes
"In the second half of the 1960â€™s, someone known as Roland Keijser led a freedom-loving jazz quartet which was transformed after a couple of years into the â€śworld musicâ€ť ensemble arbete och Fritid (= Work and Play) â€“ newÂ members of the group were Bengt Berger and Kjell Westling. We went on tour together, and recorded a couple of albums in the early 1970â€™s for the sonet label. later, the crew changed again ...
Yet Berger, Keijser and Westling kept on playing together in a number of different constellations in the ensuing years, and some of this work â€“ or
play â€“ has been immortalised in the form of phonograms. there is, however, a special recording that has been gathering dust for 35 years and which we now wish to present for a wider audience. We usually refer to this unique document as â€śthe Vedbod tapesâ€ť (vedbod = woodshed). the circumstances are not crystal- clear, but the fact is that all of the music was recorded in a woodshed in south-west dalarna in 1977.
Throughout the years, we have on occasion talked about those strange days in the woods along the old road between saxdalen and sunnansjĂ¶. shouldnâ€™t we edit the tapes and release them? Maybe we should â€“ but in which heap of old tapes do they lie a-mouldering?
The â€śarchaeological digsâ€ť for the Vedbod tapes recently acquired a new urgency, and were further intensified after the sudden â€“ too, too soon! â€“ death in the autumn of 2010 of Kjell Westling. Yes â€“ we had finally unearthed the tapes! the music, in general, sounded good. a little sound-technique polishing but no real editing was done to these findings, we kept the documentary approach preferring to keep too much rather than too little. Ah, this is how it could sound, once upon a time, in certain swedish realities.
Kjell is, not least, amazingly sharp on this occasion. above all, he rushes up and down his bass clarinet â€“ but he also delights on an indian harmonium and a deep sweden fiddle and expertly handles the sparks flying from a chinese descant souna (= shawm).
Bengt had just returned from an inspiring sojourn in ghana. His earlier years, learning in india, are as ever in his spinal marrow whether he plays mridangam or has fun with his jazz set â€“ and here traces of west african influences are found. as ever: open for any whims whatsoever as long asÂ it swings.
For my part, i was at the time close to taking a break from music. I had moved out into the country, and a year earlier sawed my left hand badly. a quiet life in the woods beckoned ...
But what is one to do when good friends call by, thirsting to play? I blew as well as i could â€“ mostly soprano sax, but also clarinet, souna, Bb cornet and bamboo flute â€“ and knocked out a few crooked messages on the donno, the armpit talking drum.
What do we play? apparently free from the heart, memory and imagination. Mostly collective improvisations. But also a couple of ornette Coleman tunes, some popular songs, the odd polska, waltz and halling, a few tango bars ... But, above all, sundry lengthy chunks of unidentifiable inventions, the names of which are known only to the woodshed."
Roland Keijser, Uppsala 2012Â