Remembering Svend Asmussen

February 28, 1916 – 7 February 7, 2017

One of jazz’s greatest violinists

Svend Asmussen, who passed away on Feb .7, 2017, was the last significant surviving jazz musician from the 1930s.

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark on Feb. 28, 1916, Asmussen began playing the violin when he was seven.

Inspired by the recordings of Joe Venuti (his main predecessor on jazz violin), Asmussen became a professional at 17.

He made his recording debut in 1935, immediately becoming a major part of the Danish jazz scene.

A colorful performer who was also a comedic talent and an occasional singer, Asmussen ranked with Stephane Grappelli and Stuff Smith among the top swing violinists of the 1930s and ‘40s,

Asmussen worked in musical shows and revues, appeared often on television (including with Alice Babs in the popular Swe-Danes), performed with Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington (appearing on Duke’s Violin Summit), and was on dates with virtually all of the major jazz violinists past and present.

Svend Asmussen continued performing until he was 94, passing away on Feb. 7, 2017, three weeks before he would have turned 101.

Here is the great violinist playing a hot version of “Limehouse Blues” in 1993 when he was 77.

Personnel:

Svend Asmussen, violin
Jakob Fisher, guitar
Jesper Lundgaard, bass
Aage Tanggaard, drums

– Scott Yanow