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Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

Biography

Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, (May 27, 1946 – April 19, 2005) was a Danish jazz double bassist known for his impressive technique and an approach that could be considered an extension of the innovative work of Scott LaFaro. Born in Osted, near Roskilde, on the Danish island of Zealand, Pedersen was known as The Great Dane with the Never-Ending Name, or sometimes simply as NHØP. As a child, Pedersen played piano. As a teenager he started learning to play double-bass and at the age of 14, while studying, he began his professional jazz career in Denmark with his first band, Jazzkvintet 60 (Danish for 'Jazz Quintet 60'). Later on, he was engaged as the regular bassist at Copenhagen's Jazzhus Montmartre. At 17, he had already turned down an offer to join the Count Basie orchestra, mainly because he was too young to get legal permission to live and work as a musician in America. During the 1960s, Pedersen played with several important American jazzmen who were touring or resident in Denmark, including Ben Webster,[3] Bill Evans, Brew Moore, Bud Powell, Count Basie, Roy Eldridge, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Jackie McLean, Roland Kirk, Sonny Rollins, and vocalist Ella Fitzgerald; he also played with Jean-Luc Ponty. He became the bassist of choice whenever a big-name musician was touring Copenhagen. Pedersen had a great friendship and working relationship with Oscar Peterson. They played together for many years on and off. In 2005, Peterson dedicated his entire tour to Pedersen after he had died. He was awarded Best Bass Player Of The Year by Downbeat Critics' Poll in 1981. Pedersen worked in duo and trio arrangements with pianist Kenny Drew, recording over 50 albums together. He also worked with Stéphane Grappelli and Joe Pass and recorded extensively as a leader. His best known songs are "My Little Anna", "Jaywalkin' ", and "The Puzzle", as well as jazz arrangements of traditional Danish folk songs. He was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1991. In 1999, he co-led a duo with pianist Mulgrew Miller, touring Europe, Japan, Australia, and Korea. This format was later enlarged into a trio featuring drummer, Alvin Queen. This trio remained intact until his death. Pedersen died of heart failure in 2005 at the age of 58 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was survived by his wife, Solveig, and his three children.




Recordings

Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen / Kenny Drew: Kenny Drew Solo/Duo

In these duo and solo tracks, the strength of Kennys playing is clearly discernible. It Is no surprise either, that the work of NHØP in the first four tracks, and of his contemporary Bo Stief during the closing live set, is exemplary and stimulates the pianist to some of his best improvisation. The existence of these previously unreleased recordings should serve as a reminder that here was a unique and irreplaceable contributor to the art of jazz piano.