Saturday, March 7, 2015

Svend Asmussen - Embraceable

Svend Asmussen
A week ago the world famous Danish jazz fiddler Svend Asmussen (b.28.Feb, 1916) celebrated his 99th anniversary. Part of the celebration included the release of a new CD with previously unissued recordings that have been sitting in Asmussen's private files. The Danish record company, Storyville Recordshas taken the initiative to release this material in co-operation with Asmussen himself at the new CD titled
Embraceable (Storyville, cd 1014296) containg a live-performance recorded in September 1985. The recording was made by French radio and the location was a small club in Paris, 'Le Petit Opportun', with an attentive audience of less than thirty individuals. The location proved to be an ideal setting for a successfull performance and Asmussen himself has estimated the recordings among his best ever according to the info at Sotryville's web: "I had never thought that this September Parisian night would be released and scrutinized, but honestly I think it is the best music I’ve ever recorded!” said Asmussen when he was interviewed about the new release." The circumstances of the performance, however, were rather unusual for Asmussen's standard, as "He played with three musicians he had never played with before and there was no rehearsal, only a few notes scribbled down. Just as they were about to play the radio man casually told them the concert would be broadcasted live on French radio and that Asmussen should present the set in French." Nevertheless, the intimate atmosphere of the location generated spontaneity and a great performance by Asmussen and his accompanying trio. Now a selection of this broadcasted live performance luckily has been released on the new CD to be enjoyed over again thirty years after this special Parisian night.
CD front: Storyville, CD 1014296
There are twelve tracks of music from the live performance preserved at the shown CD and the repertoire contains jazz standards like 'Sophisticated Lady' and 'Things Ain't What They Used To Be' from the Ellington book, modern themes like Sonny Rollins' 'Pent-Up House' and further updated jazz versions of popular compositions like 'Singin' In The Rain','Just A Gigolo' and 'There Will Never Be Another You'. There is also a magnificent version of Chopin's 'Prelude In C-minor' and a solo presentation by Asmussen of Gershwin's 'Embraceable You' that is the highlight of the set showing off an eminent mastery of his instrument without supporting accompaniment.
George Arvanitas (Photo, Esther Cidoncha)
Asmussen is accompanied by a very competent trio featuring Georges Arvanitas (p), Patrice Caratini (b) and Charles Saudrais (dr). Georges Arvanitas is a great piano player who gets the opportunity to show off in Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson influenced solo spots besides being an attentive support to Asmussen's lead voice. The rhythm section is taken good care of by double bass player Patrice Caratini and drummer man Charles Saudrais -  both men provide a solid background for the soloist's musical expression.
Patrice Caratini
Although the four musicians haven't played together before,  there is an excellent interplay between them and each of them contributes to a succesfull performance throughout.
Charles Saudrais
It is a pleasure to listen to this live recording from 1985, the CD release recreates the atmosphere of this special evening in Paris so that the listener has the experience of being present with the four musicians in the intimate setting of the performance. Great that Storyville Records has re-mastered the original tape-recordings and made the material available on disc for a contemporary public, audio quality is splendid. - The CD is available for purchase at the website of Storyville Records and mp3 versions of the tracks are available at Amazon, here 
Svend Asmussen - jazz fiddler supreme
To end this small review of a successfull live-performance by Svend Asmussen, I'll insert a fragment of a similar recording made at about the same time in Copenhagen. The location is club Montmartre and Asmussen is accompanied by  Kenny Drew (p), Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen (b) and Ed Thigpen (dr). The fragment has been uploaded by Storyville Records at YouTube and has a great performance of 'It Don't Mean A Thing ...' - enjoy!


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