21/04/2024

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Ulf Raberg With Blue Cats Big Band in Sundsvall Is Celebrating 30 Years of Music

Ulf Raberg With Blue Cats Big Band in Sundsvall Is Celebrating 30 Years of Music

The band, under the leader Ulf Raberg, consists of 16 men including a singer. The band was founded by Erik Vagn Christensen 1982. Eric is both the architect of the band and a band musician. Eric, now living in Denmark, is an open and extremely social person. So it was only natural that he would allow anyone who wanted to join the orchestra to be a part of it. This led to eleven saxophonists in a section that was intended for only five saxophonists. The orchestra was run in cooperation with various educational organizations, where each instrumental section formed their own study group.

Because repeat premises have always been a problem for choirs and orchestras throughout the country, the Blue Cats have often had to change the location of their rehearsal hall. Currently, they are in the Bethlehem Church basement in Sundsvall.

The orchestra’s repertoire consisted primarily of classic swing numbers such as Opus One, Shiny Stockins, Moten stomp and Georgia. Thanks to Erik Vagn Christensen’s and later Ulf Raberg’s proficiency in arranging music, it has been possible to include own numbers for specific soloists in the repertoire, which has been much appreciated. Getting exposure on radio and television broadcasts has been a problem for all of the big bands because these media outlets do not favor big bands very much. Nevertheless, Blue Cats has recorded a couple of CDs.

Since Vagn-Christensen moved from Sundsvall, he was succeeded by Stefan Paulsson and then Carina Hauge-Rouass and today Ulf Raberg is the leader of the orchestra. Only two musicians have left since its inception in 1982, saxophonist Marie Ekenryd and ventilbasunist Bengt-Erik Svensson.

The name Blue Cats comes from the word “blue” which refers to the use of so-called blue notes in jazz and “cats” which is a nickname for jazz musicians and jazz fans. At first they appeared in straw hats and striped vests and on the orchestra’s music stands there were a picture of a real “jazzcat” with a straw hat and long whiskers.

Every year there has been a fall party at the Skonsberg School. The big band has also participated in the city’s annual Ball-rooms, but it is the summer that is the big band’s actual music season in which they have outdoor performances at various events around Sundsvall. Regrowth among jazz musicians is not too great. Sorry to say but as Ulf Raberg tells us “young people today prefer the guitars”. But so far, the three major bands in Sundsvall have managed to keep up their orchestras.