Where HU GO, I go

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One of Hugo Rasmussen's albums covers

One of Hugo Rasmussen's albums covers

If I could describe what life’s essence it would be love and forgiveness. Without love it won’t work and forgiveness we all need overall and in general. First you have to forgive yourself and then everyone else and those you think have molested you and then I plan to keep on playing music just as long as I can carry my own upright bass and maybe even longer than that. It is still the best and funniest thing I know – so watch out!

– Hugo Rasmussen

On August 30th 2015, the Danish music scene mourned. The greatest and kindest musician to live on Danish ground passed away at the age of 74.

Hugo Rasmussen was born in a Copenhagen suburb on March 22nd 1941. In 1957, he started playing music on his first instrument, the banjo. In 1959 he picked up the upright bass he’d received as a gift for his 18th birthday. The bass became his long life partner. Hugo studied to become a smith, finishing his education in 1962, but in 1963, Hugo decided to change career paths and became a professional musician, playing with as many people as he could. He made that happen: Hugo provided the pulse behind Horace Parlan, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Doug Raney, Tom Waits, Jakob Dinesen, Cornelis Vreeswijk, and Harry Sweets Edison, among others.

I was fortunate enough to meet Hugo before he passed. Last year, on my way to interview the Danish guitarist Jakob Bro, I biked right by Hugo’s van (he had pulled down the seat to take a nap — he was a busy man). After my interview, Jakob walked me out, and we ran into Hugo, wearing the sunhat that he always wore, talking to another musician. We had a nice conversation about jazz and he told a couple of great stories.

Hugo will forever be remembered for his big heart; there’s now a big empty gap in the Danish jazz scene. He was here, there, and everywhere!

Here’s a couple of great clips of Hugo:

Palle Mikkelborg’s Oktet – Danish TV (1966)
Hugo Rasmussen – Meditation
Hugo Rasmussen Band at the 2012 Copenhagen Jazz Festival
Ben Webster – Old Folks
Al Cohn and Zoot Sims – Sofly As in The Morning Sunrise

 

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          February 10, 2018