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lunes, 23 de mayo de 2016

Svend Asmussen • Still Fiddling

Svend Asmussen (born 28 February 1916) is a jazz violinist from Denmark, known as "The Fiddling Viking".[1] A Swing style virtuoso, he played and recorded with many of the greats of Jazz, including Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Stephane Grappelli. He played publicly until 2010 when he had an blood clot, his career spanning 8 decades.

Asmussen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, raised in a musical family, and started taking violin lessons at the age of 7. At age 16 he first heard recordings by jazz violin great Joe Venuti and began to emulate his style. He started working professionally as a violinist, vibraphonist, and singer at age 17, leaving his formal training behind for good. Early in his career he worked in Denmark and on cruise ships with artists such as Josephine Baker and Fats Waller. Asmussen later was greatly influenced by Stuff Smith, whom he met in Denmark. Asmussen played with Valdemar Eiberg and Kjeld Bonfils during World War II, during which time jazz had moved to the underground and served as a form of political protest.

In the late 1950s, Asmussen formed the trio Swe-Danes with singer Alice Babs and guitarist Ulrik Neumann. The group became very popular in Scandinavia for their music hall style entertainment and also toured the United States. Asmussen also worked with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington. Asmussen was invited by Ellington to play on his Jazz Violin Session recording in 1963 with Stéphane Grappelli and Ray Nance.

In 1966 Asmussen appeared alongside Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Jean-Luc Ponty in a jazz Violin Summit in Switzerland that was issued as a live recording. He made an appearance at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, which included a celebrated violin summit with him, Ray Nance and Jean-Luc Ponty. In 1969 he guested on "Snakes in a Hole," an album by the jazz-rock band Made in Sweden. He was still active playing violin at the age of 94. He turned 100 in February 2016.

Asmussen's collection of jazz music, photographs, posters and other material is held in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark. Asmussen's son, Claus Asmussen, is a guitar player in Denmark and a former member of the band Shu-Bi-Dua.

Review by Ken Dryden
Svend Asmussen's career has unfortunately been overshadowed by phenomenal success of Stephane Grappelli. With Grappelli's death in 1997, there is no reason why this swinging violinist shouldn't achieve wider recognition, particularly with this excellent studio date. Accompanied by guitarist Jacob Fischer, bassist Jesper Lundgaard, and drummer Aage Tanggaard, Asmussen's diverse program is full of surprises. The understated treatment of "How Deep Is the Ocean" passes the solo spotlight continuously among the string players, while Fletcher Henderson's "Down South Camp Meeting," a piece pretty much overlooked since the heyday of Benny Goodman, swings like mad. A brisk "Hallelujah," powered by Tanggaard's brushwork, is easily the most adventurous track. "Sermon for Stuff," though obviously dedicated to the late violinist Stuff Smith, is a slow waltz that has a bit of a reverential air to it. The CD also ranges from Eubie Blake's "Memories of You" to classical composer Edvard Grieg's "Jeg Elsker Dig" and the Jewish melody "Shalom Elechem." Asmussen is also a delight as a composer, contributing the joyful "Silly Shuffle." Swing fans should pick up this disc without hesitation.

1 The Best Things In Life Are Free 2:58
2 How Deep Is The Ocean 4:38
3 My Yiddish Momme 5:20
4 Silly Shuffle 4:15
5 Jeg Elsker Dig 2:18
6 Down South Camp Meeting 3:39
7 My Man Is Gone Now 3:33
8 Hallelujah 4:03
9 Sermon For Stuff 2:42
10 It Had To Be You 3:28
11 Shalom Elechem 3:25
12 Memories Of You 4:05

Bass – Jesper Lundgaard
Drums – Aage Tanggaard
Guitar – Jacob Fischer
Violin – Svend Asmussen

Label: Storyville ‎– 1014252 / 2002

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