Christiern Gunnar Albertson is a New York City-based jazz journalist, writer and record producer.
He was born in Reykjavík and educated in Iceland, Denmark and England before studying commercial art in Copenhagen. In 1947, Albertson made a discovery which was to change his life when he happened upon a Bessie Smith recording on the Danish radio; it led to an abiding interest in jazz and blues music. On his home tape machine, Albertson recorded visiting British New Orleans revivalists Ken Colyer, Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan in 1953. These recordings were subsequently released on the Danish Storyville Records and British Tempo Records labels, and remain in the former's catalog.
In 1957, after two years as a disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio at Keflavík Air Base, in Iceland, Albertson migrated to the United States initially working in commercial radio in Philadelphia, WCAU and WHAT-FM, a 24-hour jazz station. At these stations, he conducted a number of interviews, including a rare one with Lester Young, one of only two extant with the tenor saxophonist.
In 1960-61 he was employed by Riverside Records' Bill Grauer as a producer. In this capacity, he arranged and recorded the last sessions of blues singer Ida Cox and legendary boogie woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis, and supervised the label's memorable 'Living Legends' series of location recordings. The initial albums in this series were made in New Orleans and featured such pioneer jazz musicians as pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, clarinetist Louis Cottrell, Jr., trumpeters Percy Humphrey and Kid Thomas, blues duo Billie and Dede Pierce, and trombonist Jim Robinson. He continued the series in Chicago, with performances by Lil Armstrong, Alberta Hunter, Little Brother Montgomery, and Earl Hines. Albertson subsequently worked as producer for Prestige Records, supervising sessions by, among others, guitarist/singer Lonnie Johnson, whom he had pulled from obscurity while working in Philadelphia. He also started his own production company, supervising sessions that included Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, Bud Freeman, Ray Bryant, and Elmer Snowden. In the mid-sixties, following a period as general manager of Pacifica station, WBAI, in New York, Albertson went to work for the BBC in London, advising them on how to adapt their radio programmes for sale in North America.