Svend Asmussen, “The Fiddling Viking”

“Hallelujah! I’m A Bum”–Watch on YouTube

He may have played second fiddle to his contemporary Stéphane Grappelli. But it wasn’t because Svend Asmussen was a lesser talent. He played with jazz  greats, too,  like Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller.

Critics admired Asmussen for his classical proficiency as well as his jazz chops. In a review cited in an obituary in The Washington Post, critic Will Friedlander called his performance of a baroque chamber work by Telemann “completely straight and breathtakingly moving.” He was also admired for his performance on a Duke Ellington’s Jazz Violin Session, recorded in Paris in 1963. The session featured Asmussen playing dueling violins with Grappelli and Ellington-regular Ray Nance.

Danish-born Asmussen was often compared to countryman Victor Borge for his whimsical stage presence. Music and humor obviously agreed with Asmussen (February 28, 1916-February 7, 2017): he lived to be 100.

“Take The A Train” with Stéphane Grappelli and Ray Nance–On Spotify

Kitty Kallen, Pop Singer Who Topped Charts in 1950s

“Kiss Me Sweet,” 1949

Kitty Kallen (May 25, 1921-January 7, 2016) was an American pop singer who began her career with swing and big bands, performing with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey among others.

On Colgate Comedy Hour (Begins at 9:24)

She made the transition to Post-War Pop, appearing on many early TV shows, including The Tonight Show, Colgate Comedy Hour, Perry Como and Fred Allen’s Judge for Yourself.

“Little Things Mean A Lot” on Perry Como, 1955

Her mid-50s hit, “Little Things Mean A Lot,” was #1 in the US for nine consecutive weeks. She was named “most popular female singer” in 1954 and was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.