[JPL] Svend Asmussen, at 96 -- Honored with the Satchmo Award tomorrow

Seymour, Bob BSeymour at wusf.org
Fri Mar 9 13:05:47 EST 2012


Broadcasters who follow the jazz birthday calendar may have noticed that violinist Svend Asmussen turned 96 last week.  We got together last weekend to enjoy a night of live music in Sarasota, where Svend and his wife Ellen have spent recent winters, and where Svend will be honored this Saturday night at the 32nd Sarasota Jazz Festival.

A very brief sketch:  Svend shared the stage with Fats Waller, and with his idol, Stuff Smith, who became a good friend.  He collaborated with Goodman and Ellington, and led the very popular Swe-Danes Trio.  And worked with the many expatriate musicians in Copenhagen, including a group with Kenny Drew and Ed Thigpen.  (As early as WW2, his prominence had led to his being among those rounded up by the Nazis, which led to solitary confinement for months in Berlin.)

Svend recorded for Arbors just a few years ago ("Makin' Whoopee...and Music") and would occasionally sit in locally, including a memorable Dick Hyman/Peter Appleyard concert where Svend was special guest, 4 years ago.  The past couple of seasons, a stroke has hampered his bowing arm; as he said the other day, 'Well, I gave it about 90 years.'   And he is just a delightful cat.

Since its earliest days, the Jazz Club of Sarasota has given the Satchmo Award during the festival, to a long list of jazz greats.  This year's finale on Saturday is Dick & Derek at the Movies, with Dick Hyman and Derek Smith.  (And happy 85th this week to Dick - he and Svend first played together on a Benny Goodman tour in 1950.)  The plan is to show some film clips to the crowd, of Svend with Toots, Goodman, etc., as he is given the honor before a sold-out house this weekend.


Bob Seymour
WUSF/Tampa




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