DR Big Band

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The Danish Radio Big Band (DR Big Band), often referred to as the Radioens Big Band is a jazz big band founded in Copenhagen in 1964, when the Copenhagen jazz scene was particularly active, and the city was regularly visited by prominent jazz artists from the USA.

Band history[edit]

Originally called The New Radio Dance Orchestra, in the early years the band was led by Ib Glindemann. But over the next few decades many new faces joined – a succession of striking bandleaders, musicians and guest soloists such as Chris Potter - all of whom helped to develop the band into the experienced ensemble whose record releases and concerts have a devoted following all over the world. Leaders like Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely, and guest soloists like Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Joe Henderson – along with numerous Danish jazz musicians – were able to make the DR Big Band the institution that Ernie Wilkins said was “probably the best band in Europe.”

In 1964 the Danish broadcasting corporation Danmarks Radio (later abbreviated to DR) had a monopoly of both radio and TV broadcasting in Denmark. When DR’s head of entertainment Niels-Jørgen Kaiser decided that DR had to have its own jazz band, it was without regard for economics, but to achieve artistic quality – he wanted national radio to reflect the fact that jazz was very much alive in the Copenhagen clubs. During the first few decades the New Radio Dance Orchestra – which later became the DR Big Band - was therefore able to develop on the artistic premises of jazz itself, which worked well. The band acquired such a reputation that it could attract the big names, whether they were bandleaders or guest soloists, and was able to lay the foundations for the succession of recordings that today consists of more than 60 albums.

For many years the big band worked like a marriage. Although its love of jazz remained intact, some things in and around the band had the feeling of routine, while at the same time the world around it was changing. With the fall of the radio and TV monopoly in the 1980s, and later when DR moved out to ‘DR City’ in the 2000s, the reality and economics that prevailed were different. The big band’s artistic reputation remained intact and artistic quality remained its major goal; but the jazz scene had changed, and behind the scenes the struggle for funding for DR’s large orchestra became fierce. It was against this background that the band’s new artistic director, Chris Minh Doky, decided in 2008 on a shift in focus: not just to maintain the band’s high artistic standard but also to expand its field of work so that it could handle a wider range of public-service tasks for DR, while at the same time intensifying collaboration with international artists. For Doky artistic integrity was the crucial factor, and what he called “the musical scenography” was secondary. Regardless of the character of the task he had one goal: to ensure that the DR Big Band remained “the best band in Denmark.” This meant that the band had to epitomize experience and also renew itself.

Since then the DR Big Band had recorded a number of albums with stars including Randy Brecker, Chris Potter and Mike Stern. But it has also appeared in the Danish version of the talent show X Factor, in the family series Sigurd & the Big Band, in the show Circus Summarum, etc.

The factors that make the big band a great experience for audiences are its high technical standard, its living artistic expression and its mixture of tight choreography and relaxed humour. Today the DR Big Band emerges as trim, highly capable and deeply committed. It has been able to develop the big jazz sound while at the same time embracing a wider field.[1][2]

Current members[edit]

Current members are:[3]


  • Thomas Kjærgaard
  • Anders Gustafsson
  • Christer Gustafsson
  • Mads La Cour
  • Gerard Presencer


  • Vincent Nilsson
  • Steen Nikolaj Hansen
  • Anette Huseby Saxe
  • Jakob Munck Mortensen
  • Peter Jensen


  • Nikolaj Schultz
  • Peter Fuglsang
  • Uffe Markussen
  • Lars Møller
  • Anders Gaardmand

Rhythm group:

  • Søren Frost (dr)
  • Kaspar Vadsholt (b)
  • Henrik Gunde (p)
  • Per Gade (g)

Former members[edit]




  • Vincent Nilsson
  • Erling Kroner
  • Richard Boone



  • Bjarne Rostvold (?–1978)
  • Lennart Gruvstedt (1978–?)

Chief conductors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Radioens Big Band". Gyldendal. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  2. ^ "Biografi - DR Big Bandet". Danmarks Radio. Retrieved 2010-03-22. 
  3. ^ "Engelsk stjernetrompetist i DR Big Bandet". DR. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 

External links[edit]