Svend Asmussen

Danish Imports: Intimate Jazz by Two of Europe's Favorites

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Recorded in 1961 as Svend Asmussen and Ulrik Neumann, and vocalist Alice Babs, on tour in the United States, Danish Imports pairs the talents of two of Europe's finest in a program of show tunes and standards. According to the liner notes, the recordings this pair made were hotly debated by musicians, some of whom called it "high class background music." Forty-five years after the fact, the nuanced precision and airy, breezy, relaxed tempos that make up this set are more a curiosity piece than an engaging jazz set. While there is no doubt of the musicians' abilities, the swing here feels more cosmetic than authentic. Those looking for a Django Reinhardt/St├ęphane Grappelli gyspy jazz outing would be sorely disappointed. The music here borders on saccharine in its sentimentality and its "reverence" for American tunes. Forgettable.

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