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Norman "Swede" Carlson As a Musician

by Kris Carlson

Swede Carlson grew up in the small town of Index, Washington. He started to learn trumpet at age 14, his first year in high school (Sultan Union High School). By age 16 he got his first job playing with an adult group (Art Dale’s Band) at Vasa Hall in Monroe Wa, and summers at a resort complex at Lake Stevens, in a large hall built over the lake on pilings. He played with this group until the middle of his freshman year in college at the Univ. of Washington School of Music.

His trumpet teacher, Don Anderson, from whom he took lessons starting his Junior year in High School, was a Hollywood Studio Musician and sidekick of Rafael Mendez, the great classical trumpet player and performer from Mexico. Swede tells how Don took him to a Rafael Mendez concert in Bellingham, Washington, and introduced Swede to Rafael backstage.

In his fresman year, age 19, Swede started a Jazz Trio (The CBR Trio) whose pianist was William Bolcom, who later became a celebrated composer and performer of classical and Jazz music. He is now Professor Emeritus in Music from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI. My father's friendship with Bill Bolcom continued at the University of Washington until this day; while Bill Bolcom continued his musical studies and concert tours.

Just almost turning 20, June 8, 1957, Pat and Swede were married. At that point Swede switched majors at the U of W, to Physics and Mathematics. He was then employed by the Boeing Co. on the Bomarc project and finally, at the Renton, WA, plant as a Computer operator. By that time his major in college was Mathematics. Due to lack of funds, Swede took a position with the RCA Service Corp. and went to Riverton, N.J. for training. On Aug. 28, 1961 he first went to work at Clear Air Force Station AK, becoming a site programmer on the BMEWS Project. He kept up practicing his horn in an unused mess hall in the camp area of the site and then in the Site Theatre.

People hearing him, guitarist David Wolverton (his dad was a world renown guitarist), and pianist, Junius Taylor (a reprobate from Julliard), came in and right then we started the Alaska Jazz Quintet. (We picked up a drummer and bass player, later, seen in the photo shown on our YouTube videos at the Music menu sub-links.)

After Swede became Christian in 1964, he tried to use his gift as a ministry. He developed a number of different programs designed to present the Gospel message. He played and preached any place he could---church services, summer camps, retreats, even rescue missions. What Swede didn't want was to be simply “the entertainment”. Music was a means to an end, and the end was presenting the gospel. While he was attending Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Swede made one album, which is no longer available. Another was made in 1973. One other was made in Colorado Springs prior to attending “Western” in Sept. 1969. For the first two albums mentioned, he was accompanied by Rob Pearson on piano, and often played behind Rob Pearson and the Sandoval Sisters Trio; together they would tour the local area (Oregon and Washington), churches, presenting the gospel, and raising the profile of the seminary.

We have created video pages for seven songs that were recreated. These are also YouTube videos which require a Flash plugin on your browser.  The video portion contains some pictures of Alaska.   Please enjoy them.  Remember the audio tracks were NOT made in a sound studio but were recorded in a large Church building and a school music room.  The song “That’s For Me” suffers from a starting (35 LP record) scratch which goes away a little while into the song.