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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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SVEND ASMUSSEN

Makin' Whoopee!...and Music!

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19390

 

 


1. Makin´ Whoopee!
2. Trubbel
3. There Will Never Be Another You
4. Singin´ in the Rain
5. Fiddler in Rio
6. Sermon for Stuff
7. Nuages
8. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
9. Danny Boy
10. Gypsy
11. The Nearness of You
12. Things Ain´t What They Used to Be
13. Skylark
14. Banjo
15. Just a Gigolo
16. Copacabana

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 to perfection.

If you haven't encountered Svend Asmussen before, use this album as an agreeable introduction.

Tony Augarde



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