Ulf Andersson was one of the most sought after saxophone players in Stockholm in the 1970s, and Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and their sound engineer Michael Tretow immediately thought of him when they needed a groovy musician. The most famous of Ulf Andersson saxophone features probably remains the recording of” I do, I do, I do”. Taking some time to chat with us Ulf talks about the show and some of his favourite stories.
1. Thanks for your time Ulf, The Show – The Music of Abba is touring the UK in May. What can Abba fans expect from the show ?
The idea and intension of The Show-The Music of ABBA ,is to bring the audience back in time and in some way experience the feel of a performance we had at that time.
With the development of modern technic, it´s been possible to add new elements in the stage picture.
Beside the the backing-group of five musicians we also have the wonderful Symphonic Rock Orchestra Of London, who is there to support the four ”ABBA” in the front.
2. How did you get involved in the show and what does it feel like performing those songs given you were one of the original musicians ?
In 1974, I was asked by Bjorn and Benny to collaborate on some of there recordings.
In the song: ” I Do I Do I Do” I`m featured with my saxophone. Benny showed me on the piano what to play and I put it down on a sheet of music. That was a way that ABBA`s songs were created.
When the production company CSB in Denmark, came up with the idea of putting together a show with ABBA`s music, I was asked to participate. I have now been working with The Show for the last twenty years. And I still love to go on stage, playing this wonderful music.
3. What are your memories from that era and can you tell us one of your favourite stories ?
One distinctive memory of when I toured with ABBA, was in 1977 we toured in Europe and Australia. The opening night in Sidney had a very exited crowd of more than fifty thousand people. A very heavy rainstorm was doing the situation a bit complicated. We had to run in the rain over a muddy field to reach the www.I had to carry three saxophones and two flutes. Up on the stages I realized that I had forgotten my piccolo-flute in the backroom. Without that flute, it would not be an introduction on ”Fernando”. I had to run back to pick up my instrument. On the way back in the darkness, just behind the stage, a big dirty carpet had been rolled up. I could not see it and run just in to it. I had a big fall. I managed to save my flute and my all white stage costume from disaster. Without anybody else notice I got back on the stage right before the beginning of the show.
4. If you could pick one reason what you think made ABBA so unique and the reason for their lasting popularity worldwide what would it be ?
Bjorn and Benny had this unique ability to work with the melody and text simultaneously. The results become very successful. The songs were performed by to fantastic singers; Frida and Agneta.
The songs of the group has a great veracity. Rock, Disco, Heavy Ballads, inspiration from folk music and so on. The melancholy of nordic and classic music is some of the ingredients in there musical mix.
The easy answer would be. It’s damn good pop music.
5. Aside from your work with ABBA in the ’70s, what other memories do you have from the other artists you worked with ?
In the `70s I had the opportunity to work a lot in the recording business in Stockholm. I started the Jazz-rock group called Egba that have last up til this days. I worked with Lill Lindfors, who may have been most known to the big public by ”losing” here dress in the final of The European Song Contest.
Great artists from UK and USA were performing in Stockholm. I was happy to be asked to participate in many back up bands behind artists like, The Supremes, Nancy Wilson, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra JR and others.
6. What are your thoughts on the state of music in 2020 ? Do you think ABBA would be as successful if they had formed in this era ?
By the years of ABBA´s career, we can all notice their devolvement into a more modern approach. The use of for instance synthesizers became more frequent. In the musicals, composed by Bjorn and Benny like : Chess, Duvemala and Mama Mia, we can realize the long living quality of their music ability.
7. How did you end up taking up the saxophone and what was it about the instrument that made you pick it up in the first place ?
In the early teens I became very interested in jazz music. Musicians like Charlie Parker, Stan Gets and John Coltrane became some of my idols. That is the main reason why I choose the saxophone. From the start of playing it, I had the interest to discover even other music styles.
8. Going forward what other plans do you have for 2020 ?
For the moment I’m just about to finish a new record with my own music. It’s a jazzy one together with four very talented young musicians. I do hope I will be able to bring that group into concerts and club gigs in the future.
We will continue touring with The Show-The Music Of ABBA. In the end of March we do shows in Kansas City and Takoma. In April we have ten gigs booked in Brazil. From May 4th-11th – we will start our UK-tour.
Right after we finished the English tour, we will tour Germany. Yes! The Show is going on.
9. Just for fun now: growing up as a child which movie or movie character scarred you for life ?
One of the most scariest movies I watched in my youth was ‘The Testament Of Dr Mabose’. I don’t have the English title of it. But it was scary anyway!
The Show – The Music Of ABBA – tours the UK: May 4th-11th, 2020