New York to LA


The tall, blond Swede Åke Hasselgård arrived in New York in July 1 1947 and walked directly to the 52nd Street, entered the club Famous Door and sat in with Max Kaminsky, Bud Freeman and Jack Teagarden. He was self-assured enough to dare it. Trumpet player Kaminsky later recalled:

"We just loved him from the start. He had a good sound, a real clarinet sound. The things he played were fresh and he swung marvelously. A lot of musicians can play, but they cannot swing. And very few have that special thing that he had. Everybody just admired him."

Hasselgard very soon adapted his name, losing the Swedish letters "å" and changing his first name, that sounded like "Oakie", to Stan. He also began to change his syle, rapidly absorbing the new sounds on "The Street"; be-bop.

Stan Hasselgard left New York in late August for California, out of money, when he was offerd a lift to Los Angeles by the trumpet player Johhn Windhurst, who who drove his 1934 Packard across the country to hear the premiere of Louis Armstrong's All Stars at Billy Berg's. In California Stan was soon joined by his friends from Sweden, Rolf Ericson and the Danish drummer Frank Bode (Uffe Baadh), who had spent the last years of the World War playing in Stockholm. They had a rough start, sometimes sleeping outdoors, for periods crammed in a small shack in trumpet player Uan Rasey's garden. Stan Hasselgard spent the first nights sleeping in Jack Teagarden's garage.

“I spent 500 dollars during my first month in the USA and 50 during the next two”, he wrote in a letter.

Uan Rasey was a studio musician who this winter worked with Benny Goodman on Howard Hawks’  movie “A Song was Born”, also featuring Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Barnet, Mel Powell and Danny Kaye.

Rasey would brag about Haselgard’s capabilities to Goodman and, by this time, Goodman had noticed his name – they both recorded for Capitol.

Stan Haselgard joined the musicians’ union (and sat in with local groups at places like Club 47 and Billy Berg’s. An appearance in a Gene Norman’s Just Jazz concert with Count Basie and his rhythm section (and Hary Edison, Dicky Wells and Buddy Tate) helped to pay the union fees – and make him “the talk of the town”. He recorded four never issued tracks in December 1947 for an obscure record company called Rhythm-tone and a week later a session for the prestigious Capitol Records with Red Norvo, Arnold Ross and Barney Kessel – friends he had made in Club 47.

In addition, Hasselgard participated in two more Jubilee concerts/broadcasts with, among others, Dodo Marmarosa and Wardell Gray. The promotor Gene Norman tried to feature him as often as possible.

Eventually he was to meet and befriend Benny Goodman, his idol. Goodman, having disbanded, was in need of a new start and found an admiring fan who could introduce him to the new chords that Hasselgard rapidly absorbed.

Stan Hasselgard wrote a few chronicles from th USA to the Swedish jazz magazine OJ. In March 1948 he reports hearing Woody Herman's band - "Zoot"Simms and Stan Getz are both high class - and Benny Goodman". He states that "Wardell Gray is in my opinion the finest tenorist around" and notices that two Scandinavians have arrived: the drummer Frank Bode, "who finally, thank God, has changed his style and plays well with fine, modern ideas", and Rolf Ericson, who "has hidden somewhere in the desert at Palm Springs".

Uan Rasey in his garden with the shack where the Swedes lived, and where Goodman would call when he wanted chord lessons from Stan.

Posthumously the four tracks appeared on an EP with a drawing by David Stone Martin

A picture from the studio ->