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Friday, December 21, 2007

Putte Wickman
Putte Wickman (10 September 192414 February 2006) was one of the world's leading jazz clarinetists.
He was born Hans Olof Wickman in Falun, and grew up in Borlänge, Sweden, where his parents hoped he would become a lawyer. He nagged them to allow him to go to high school in Stockholm. When he arrived in the capital he still did not know what jazz was, and said in an interview many years later he was probably the only 15 year old who did not. Since he did not have access to a piano in Stockholm, he was given a clarinet by his mother as a Christmas present - a life changing event, as it turned out, as by then he had started to hang out with "the worst elements in the class - those with jazz records".
Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman were the role models for the young Wickman, who, already in 1944, had turned to music full time. He was taken on as band leader at Stockholm's Nalen and in 1945 the newly-founded Swedish newspaper the Expressen described him as the country's foremost clarinet player. Like many other distinctive artists, Putte Wickman considered himself self-taught; he had never taken a classes on the instrument.
He led his own band at Nalen for 11 years and during the 1960s he ran the big band at Gröna Lund, and at Puttes, the club he part-owned, at Hornstull in Stockholm. In interviews in his later years it was clear that he rated his church performances very highly. He was until shortly before his death still active as a musician, giving concerts every year. The technique and tone was still of the highest class, as was the well-pressed suit with a white handkerchief in the breast pocket.
In 1994, Wickman received the Illis Quorum gold medal, today the highest award that can be conferred upon an individual Swedish citizen by the Government of Sweden. Putte Wickman was a member of the Royal Swedish Musical Academy.

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