Another week has passed, another show is due and I have a show for you with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen or as he was known, ‘The Great Dane with the never-ending name’, or more simply as ‘NHØP’. Whichever name we use what remains unchanged was his genius on the double bass. Sadly I say “WAS his genius” because he died suddenly in 2005.
Before you listen, grab a coffee – a big coffee, find a comfy seat and sit down. Now we’re ready for genius.
A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
with Ulf Wakenius
As I listen with eyes closed I am moved to a wonderful place. To think I used to disown jazz!
I hadn’t heard of NHOP until June when I was preparing for the show on Oscar Peterson but having heard his music I was won over. Clearly his talent was recognised early. According to Wikipedia, NHOP started to play professionally in his early teens and by 17 he had been invited to join the Count Basie orchestra, an offer he turned down because he was too young to live and work in the USA as a musician.
For the second track we pair Niels with a legendary guitarist.
Move with Joe Pass
When Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson’s regular bassist, left to live in California it was to NHOP that Oscar turned. Unfortunately for him Niels wouldn’t leave Denmark although he did join Oscar on European dates.
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen died suddenly in April 2005. Below is a short tribute from Hank Jones.
Much praise in just a few seconds.
Next up is a traditional Danish tune with pianist Kenny Drew with whom Niels recorded more than 50 albums.
Det var en lørdag aften with Kenny Drew
I have nothing fresh to say!
Another biography said this,
“He was a bass virtuoso, who made his unwieldy instrument sound almost impossibly agile. Like a finger-style guitarist, he could pluck the heavy strings with all four fingers of his right hand, where most bassists relied on repeated leverage from one finger, or two at the most.
The turn of speed this gave NHOP allowed jazz's classic “walking bassline” to be played at the most frenetic tempos, and over sustained periods behind soloists.”
HNOP shows his skill in this next piece – a 6 minute solo.
Because of the speed at which he could play …..
“….Orsted Pedersen was thus able to hold down one of the most demanding jobs in mainstream jazz, as regular bassist to Oscar Peterson, one of the fastest pianists in the business. This was a tough enough task even with other musicians around to help spread the load, but NHOP often kept Peterson company in that most unforgiving of improvising situations, the drummerless duo.
When he took over the job with Peterson, his predecessor Ray Brown observed that the newcomer was the only bassist he could think of who would be quick enough to keep up with Peterson.”
If you want to hear Pedersen playing with Peterson then have a listen to my Oscar feature.
Bye Bye Blackbird with Chris McBride
Here Niels-Henning teams up with another brilliant bassist.
I realise that this music may not be to everyone’s taste but for me this is magical.
We continue with a very young NHOP – 19 or 20 - playing with Bill Evans of whom I had never heard.
with Bill Evans(piano) and Alan Dawson (drums)
Brilliant even then.
Oscar Peterson pays a very fulsome tribute.
We’re coming towards the end of the show now – just two more tracks and both with Kenny Drew.
Oleo - w Kenny Drew (piano) and Alvin Queen (drums)
I’m sorry that I’m reduced to single words. Fabulous.
When I decided that Niels would be the star of this show I knew that there was only one track with which to finish: this was the Music in the Morning track of about 10 days ago.
I Skovens dybe stille ro with Kenny Drew
This is another gorgeous old Danish tune.
What a way to say goodbye to the fabulous Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.
As last week there is the sadness that a star has died much too early. Fortunately, with YouTube, his virtuosity lives on.
I hope you enjoyed the music of NHOP and I look forward to having you with me next week.