1. Makinī Whoopee!
3. There Will Never Be Another You
4. Singinī in the Rain
5. Fiddler in Rio
6. Sermon for Stuff
8. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
9. Danny Boy
11. The Nearness of You
12. Things Ainīt What They Used to Be
15. Just a Gigolo
Svend Asmussen - Violin
Richard Drexler - Bass, piano, organ
Jacob Fischer - Guitar
Tony Martin - Drums, shakers
Tom Carabasi - Drums (track 5)
In the pantheon of jazz violinists, the best-known names are probably
Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith and Jean-Luc Ponty. But
other worthy violinists may be overshadowed, including Eddie South,
Ray Nance and Svend Asmussen. Danish-born Asmussen has long been one
of my favourite jazz fiddlers - and when I say "long", I
mean it. He recorded this new album in early 2009 when he was approaching
his 93rd birthday! Svend has played with such great jazzmen as Duke
Ellington, Benny Goodman and Fats Waller, but he is less famous than
he deserves, because he has chosen to stay mostly in Scandinavia.
Thanks to Arbors Jazz, this album - which was recorded in Florida
- may expose him to a wider audience. He bends notes daringly and,
as with Stuff Smith, there is an air of mischief in his playing, as
if he knows he's using the most sacred instrument in classical music
to create impudent jazz. You can almost see the smiles on the musicians'
faces as they stroll nonchalantly through the audacious but gospelly
Sermon for Stuff.
Yet Asmussen can also express rhapsodic tunefulness, as he does in
such tracks as Danny Boy. The presence of guitarist Jacob Fischer
(whose name is sadly omitted from the back sleeve) sometimes gives
the ensemble the air of the Hot Club of France - most naturally in
Django Reinhardt's Nuages. Jacob gets his own solo feature
on Gypsy, and pianist Richard Drexler plays unaccompanied on
his own beautifully lyrical composition Banjo.
The only occasional flaw is an uncertainty in the violin's intonation,
noticeable on such tracks as Just a Gigolo. It is difficult
to pick out high points in an album which consists of 65 minutes of
mostly superb music. However, other notable tracks include Singin'
in the Rain (with violin, piano and guitar generating raindrops);
the easy-swinging Things Ain't What They Used to Be (which
has a good bass solo from Drexler, who is a tower of strength on three
instruments); and the title-track, which displays Svend's note-bending
If you haven't encountered Svend Asmussen before, use this album
as an agreeable introduction.