Svend Asmussen, the Danish swing fiddle great nicknamed "The Fiddling Viking," died yesterday at 100, just 20 days before he'd have turned 101. He was the last survivor of the first generation jazz violin pioneers, and remained active until a stroke at age 95 impaired his playing skills, around the time his final new album Makin' Whoopee…And Music was released. His career was detailed in Svend Asmussen: The Extraordinary Life Of A Jazz Legend, an in-depth documentary available on DVD.
Singer and actor Herb Jeffries, known for jazz and pop vocals that demonstrated a phenomenal range, and for his pioneering role as an African-American singing cowboy in four late 30's all-black westerns, died May 25 at his California home. Given confusion over his birth year, he was either 100 or 101. At the time of his death in California, Jeffries had been working on his autobiography. He'd continued singing well into his 90's.
News that Steely Dan will appear in Pittsburgh August 11 at the Benedum Center (tickets go on sale Friday), bring up memories of that band's storied 42 year history and its deep and abiding ties to jazz (including Pittsburgh jazz players), and their occasional shout-outs to the music on their records.