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Danish Dawg music

Svingin' With Svend
Svingin' With Svend
By David Grisman Quintet

RCA Victor: 1988

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This review first appeared in the March 25, 1988 issue of the San Diego Evening Tribune.

Tavid Grisman has taken a relatively obscure instrument, the mandolin, and spent a career developing a musical style to fully utilize the strengths of and popularize the instrument. Combining elements of jazz, bluegrass and folk, Grisman's self-named "Dawg" music is light and melodic, making him a favorite with smooth jazz fans.

"Svingin' With Svend," Grisman's latest release, is built around the playing of Danish violinist Svend Asmussen. The septuagenarian Asmussen fits in comfortably with Grisman's style. This is hardly surprising since Asmussen was combining jazz and folk musics half a century ago with Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.

The first side of the album is culled from a studio session, the second from a live set. The highlight of the studio material is Asmussen's arrangement of a traditional Danish folk song, "Lap-Nils Polka." The entire live set is outstanding, featuring two compositions by Grappelli and Reinhardt in addition to Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." On "Swing Mineur," Grisman's mandolin is joined on a short intro by Asmussen's pizzicato before Asmussen takes his bow back up and plunges into a breathtaking passage.

The CD version of this album contains two additional songs from the live set: Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing" and Milt Jackson's "Spirit Feel."