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Monday, 10 October 2016

Leo Mathinsen born 10 October 1906

Leo "The Lion" Mathisen (10 October 1906 – 16 December 1969) was a Danish jazz pianist, composer, arranger, singer and bandleader. He was a leading figure of the thriving Danish scene during the years around World War II—a period which has been labelled the Golden Age of Danish Jazz—and he is considered to be one of most significant and original jazz musicians of his day. 

His nickname is a reference to his first name as well as MGM's mascot Leo the Lion. He is also remembered for his characteristic appearance with his flat, centrally parted hair, his thin moustache and, most notably, his fondness of large cigars.

Leo Mathisen was born in Copenhagen in 1906. He worked in a record shop, listened to records and tried to copy the virtuous piano play that he heard. After completing a merchant education, he started working professionally as a pianist in restaurant Arena and with Kai Ewans' band in Restaurant Adlen. The same year he also recorded his first album, The More We Are Together, in collaboration with Victor Cornelius. From 1927 to 1928 he was also part of a trio with Otto Lington and Anker Skjoldborg. 

From 1928 through 1931 he performed with Adrian Rollini's orchestra and with Max Lefkos' band in Germany and Sweden. In 1936 Mathisen formed his own band and until 1952 he led various acclaimed orchestras which performed in restaurants in Copenhagen and toured in Scandinavia after the end of World War II also in Germany. They also served as backup bands for various popular singers. 

Mathisen recorded numerous albums with his band, often with his own compositions. His main source of inspiration was Fats Waller, both in his piano play and in his singing, and particularly his recordings from 1941 to 1943 are considered to be among the swing music's finest. His most famous songs are Take it Easy and To be or not to be. With larger orchestras he recorded tracks like Long Shadows which is a typical example of his original arrangements.

Mathisen also recorded popular hits of his time such as Lionel Hampton's Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop, Five Minutes More, Near You and Makin' Whoopee. With Erik Parkerm he also created Danish lyrics to songs such as De 24 Røvere that Fats Waller recorded in 1941 and Jack McVea’s The Key's In The Mailbox. 

Among the members of his band were Erik Parker, Henry Hagemann and John Steffensen while the trumpeter Jørgen Ry joined the ensemble in the years after the war. During the war, a time which has been labelled as the Golden Age of Danish Jazz, he reached huge popularity, particularly at the München establishment where he performed regularly for several years during the Occupation of Denmark. When he was forbidden to perform in English, he resorted to Scat singing with a destinctive Copenhagen-English sound.

From 1951 he performed as a solo pianist around Denmark but in spring 1953 he retired from music altogether due to health problems. He died in 1969 and is interred on the Mariebjerg Cemetery in Gentofte in the northern outskirts of Copenhagen. (Info edited from Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Leo Mathisen 1944 – 48” go here:

1. Take The "A" Train
2. Eps
3. I Don't Want To Walk Without You
4. De 24 Røvere
5. Londonderry Air
6. Birth Of The Blues
7. So Sad, So Bllue
8. Liza
9. A Lover's Lullaby
10. All Of Me
11. Bugle Call Rag
12. Midnigh In Munich
13. Copenhagen Blues
14. Sentimental Journey
15. Jive At Volga
16. Slow Motion
17. Meet The Duke
18. L.M. Blues
19. Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop
20. Five Minutes More
21. Tke Key's In The Mailbox
22. Makin Whoopee
23. Near You
24. Painted Rhythm

This CD contains the 24 titles Leo Mathisen recorded for the label TONO from September 1944 till April 1948. There are recordings with big band and smaller groups. Leo Mathisen was a fantastic arranger and has arranged all titles. There are 8 compositions by Leo Mathisen i.e.: Copenhagen Blues, Midnight and Eps. Leo also recorded popular hits of that time: Lionel Hampton’s Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop, Five Minutes More, Near Yo and Makin’ Whoopee, He has also together with Erik Parker composed the Danish lyrics to: De 24 Røvere that Fats Waller recorded in 1941. The same with Jack McVea’s: The Key's In The Mailbox.