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Leo Mathisen

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 the most significant and original jazz musicians of his day.

Mathisen's main source of inspiration was Fats Waller, both his piano play and his singing, but the later years of his career saw some bebop influence. His most famous tracks are "Take It Easy" and "To Be or Not to Be". 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.

Birth and Death Data: Born October 10th, 1906 (Copenhagen), Died December 16th, 1969 (Copenhagen)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1938

Roles Represented in DAHR: songwriter, composer


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-023502 10-in. 5/27/1938 A wee bit of swing Barrelhouse Barons ; Timme Rosenkrantz Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-023503 10-in. 5/27/1938 Is this to be my souvenir? Barrelhouse Barons ; Inez Cavanaugh ; Timme Rosenkrantz Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo songwriter  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Mathisen, Leo," accessed October 28, 2021,

Mathisen, Leo. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from

"Mathisen, Leo." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 28 October 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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