It wasn’t my first, but may well have been my second. No, third, I believe. Now that I’m looking at mountains of CDs, and have abandoned most of them for my iPod, it feels strange to hark back to the early days of CD buying. When you already own masses of LPs and cassettes, it’s hard to know where to begin in a new format.
I came across this on holiday, and felt sufficiently grown-up to buy something with Alice Babs. She’s a Swedish National Treasure, roughly the same age as Mother-of-witch, so has always been around. She’s been around more than some, seeing as she started at the age of fourteen or thereabouts, in the 1930s. She was discovered by Duke Ellington, which doesn’t exactly happen to every teenager.
The CD is called Swe-Danes at Berns, and after looking them up I see that they are described as a jazz trio. Alice Babs teamed up with Danes Svend Asmussen and Ulrik Neumann in the 1950s, so they too have been around pretty much always, as far as I’m concerned. They played the kind of boring music adults might listen to. I knew them well, but more like old relatives you had to put up with. What’s jazz when you can have pop and cute bands?
Anyway, the older witch felt that some Swe-Danes might be nice. It was, and I often suspect it may be the best CD I own. It’s a live recording from a Stockholm restaurant in 1961, and my only other connection with Berns, as it’s called, is that I discovered one of their linen table cloths in the linen cupboard after Mother-of-witch died. I hope she didn’t steal it.
You can listen to the CD and just enjoy the music, which I’m sure is anything but ‘just jazz’. But if you understand a few languages, you can also sit back and enjoy their play with words in quite a few. Both Svend and Ulrik speak in ‘Swedish’, but in a rather Danish way. They joke and play in more ways than one, while seemingly effortlessly producing the highest standard of singing and violin and guitar playing.
Every time I listen to the album I hear something new, and I still marvel and laugh at all they do. Some of the 17 tracks initially look a little boring in the track list, but there isn’t a single one I could do without. Because the recording is live and includes their banter, you need to listen to the whole thing. It’s less well suited to shuffle, unless it’s Scandinavian Shuffle.
It may have started as an impulse, but that was a seriously good impulse purchase. If I could I’d give a copy to everyone I know. I can’t, so I won’t. (It’s the thought that counts.)