Harry Arnold

For a short time in the late '50s, Harry Arnold led one of the finest big bands in jazz, which was quite an accomplishment considering that he was based in Sweden. Originally a saxophonist, Arnold started leading swinging orchestras starting in 1942 and eventually gave up playing in favor of being an arranger. He worked with Thore Ehrling's band from 1949-1952 (on tenor, alto, and as an arranger) and was busy in the studios, writing many film scores throughout the first half of the '50s. Arnold's glory years were 1956-1965, when he was the leader of the Swedish Radio Big Band, an orchestra that included such top Swedish players as Arne Domnerus, Bengt Hallberg, and Ake Persson. Trumpeter Benny Bailey also played regularly with the band, and Quincy Jones headed it for a period in 1958 when he was contributing some notable charts to their repertoire (including "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set"). Other guests included Ernestine Anderson, Lucky Thompson, Coleman Hawkins, Toots Thielemans, Tony Scott, and most notably Stan Getz. The Orchestra's first LP was released in the U.S. as The Jazztone Mystery Band and gained a great deal of attention. Arnold's big band peaked in the late '50s and broke up in 1965. He continued writing arrangements and leading occasional big bands in Europe during the remainder of his life, but he was on his way to being forgotten when he passed away in 1971 at the age of 50. Fortunately, there are several CDs of the Swedish Radio Big Band (including some notable concerts on a Dragon CD) currently available. ~ Scott Yanow

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