Svend Asmussen is an 86-year-old Dane who has been sawing on his fiddle since the mid-1930s. Listening to Still Fiddling one would never know Asmussen was 86, but one would surmise he has 60 plus years of experience doing what he does. Asmussen has played and recorded with the cream of the swing era. He has crossed paths with Fats Waller, the Mills Brothers, Duke Ellington; Benny Goodman; Toots Theileman, and even Stephane Grappelli. For having performed for so long, Mr. Asmussen has a modest discography, making this release that much more important and that much more a delight.
The recording is a mixture of standards, originals, and a couple ethnic pieces. Asmussen and his fellow Danes swing with an easy lilt, recalling the pre-war European jazz pioneered by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. The disc opener, "The Best things In Life Are Free" smacks of this free swing. "How Deep Is The Ocean" is bluesy and highlights guitarist Fischer's talents both as accompanist and soloist as well as eliciting the warmest tone of disc from Asmussen. The Jewish fare of My Yiddish Momme" and "Shalom Elechem" is authentic and enjoyable. Asmussen's own hard boppish "Silly Shuffle" and Edvard Grieg's "Jeg Elsker Dig" mine deep the Danish tradition. Fletcher Henderson's "Down South Camp Meeting" is the swingingist piece on the disc, emulating Western Swing. Asmussen's take on "It Had To Be You" is the most effective I have heard in some time.
Track Listing: The Best Things In Life Are Free; How Deep Is The Ocean; My Yiddish Momme; Silly Shuffle; Jeg Elsker Jig; Down South Camp Meeting; My Man Is Gone Now; Hallelujah; Sermon For Stuff; It Had To Be You; Shalom Elechem; Memories Of You. (Total Time: 73:53).
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.