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Svend Asmussen

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It seems strange that Svend Asmussen is not better known in the United States, for he has been a top swing violinist since the mid-'30s. He started playing violin when he was seven and, in 1933, made his professional debut. Always based in Scandinavia (hence his obscurity in the U.S.), Asmussen made his first records as a leader in 1935 and has been consistently popular in his homeland ever since. He played with the Mills Brothers and Fats Waller in the 1930s when they passed through Denmark, but when Benny Goodman tried to get him in the mid-'50s for his small group, strict immigration laws made it impossible for him to work in the U.S. Asmussen recorded with John Lewis (1962), Duke Ellington (as part of a 1963 violin summit), Toots Thielemans, Lionel Hampton (1978), and on a few occasions with Stephane Grappelli, in addition to many dates with his own groups. ~ Scott Yanow

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28 February 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark

Years Active:

'40s, '50s