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Asmussen, Svend

Biography

Svend Asmussen (born 28 February 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a jazz violinist from Denmark, known as "The Fiddling Viking". Asmussen grew up in a musical family, starting violin lessons at age 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.




Recordings

Asmussen, Svend / Grappelli, Stephane: Two Of A Kind

This 57-minute CD (12 tunes) includes four numbers that have never previously been released. The recording (originally released on Metronome and later on a Storyville CD) was made in the recording studio in Copenhagen in 1965. The four extra tunes are from a radio broadcast the same year, with a different rhythm group. Besides Svend Asmussen, both sessions also feature another major jazz violinist, Stephane Grappelli, who first played with Asmussen in 1938. The musical material consists of popular swing standards by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and George Gershwin, among others, plus one be-bop tune by Bud Powell.Svend Asmussen plays here with all the elegance, charm and perfection that have been the trademark of his music for many, many years. Two of the top jazz violin-pros in the business, Grappelli and Asmussen obviously enjoy each other’s playing and respect each other as musicians. The music swings like mad, not least of all thanks to a fantastic Danish rhythm section, led by bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer William Schiøpffe. Listening to this CD is guara...