Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

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Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
Background information
Also known as NHØP, The Great Dane with
the Never-Ending Name
Born (1946-05-27)27 May 1946
Osted, Zealand, Denmark
Died 19 April 2005(2005-04-19) (aged 58)
Ishøj, Zealand
Genres Jazz, bebop, hard bop, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Upright bass
Years active 1960s–2005
Associated acts Albert Ayler, Chet Baker, Count Basie, Kenny Drew, Roy Eldridge, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, Roland Kirk, Tete Montoliu, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Sonny Rollins, George Shearing, Archie Shepp, Ben Webster

Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (Danish pronunciation: [nelsˈhɛneŋ ˈɶɐ̯sdəð ˈpɛðɐsn], 27 May 1946 – 19 April 2005) was a Danish jazz upright bassist known for his impressive technique and innovative musical approach.[1][2]


Ørsted Pedersen was born in Osted, near Roskilde, on the Danish island of Zealand, the son of a church organist. As a child, Ørsted Pedersen played piano, but from the age of 13, he started learning to play upright 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'). By the age of fifteen, he had the ability to accompany leading musicians at nightclubs, working regularly at Copenhagen's Jazzhus Montmartre, after his debut there on New Year's Eve 1961, when he was only 15. When seventeen, 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.

The Montmartre was a regular stop-off for touring American Jazz stars, and as a member of the house band, the young Ørsted Pedersen performed with saxophone legends such as Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Stan Getz, and Bill Evans, with whom he toured in Europe in 1965. During the 1960s, Ørsted Pedersen played with a series of other important American jazzmen who were touring or resident in Denmark, including Ben Webster,[3] Brew Moore, Bud Powell, Count Basie, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Jackie McLean, and vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. He also played with Jean-Luc Ponty, and became the bassist of choice whenever a big-name musician was touring Copenhagen.

He was awarded Best Bass Player of the Year by Downbeat Critics' Poll in 1981.[4]

Ørsted 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. A duo performance with Rune Gustafsson at Vossajazz 1980, concluded on the album Just The Way You Are on the label Sonet Gramofon, recorded half a year after this first meeting. He was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1991. This was the first time this prize for composition was awarded to a performing musician, and this must be ascribed to his great international standing. He was presumably the most sought-after Danish instrumentalist internationally ever, and has travelled and recorded with a series of the greatest jazz soloists internationally.

Ørsted Pedersen has also a particular ability to interpret Danish songs and folk melodies. He often played within trio ensembles, partly collectively with the trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and the keyboard player Kenneth Knudsen, and partly under his own name, usually with guitarists like Philip Catherine and Ulf Wakenius. 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 Pedersen's death.[1]


Ørsted 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.[5] Oscar Peterson wrote:

From the first night that my dear friend Audrey Genovese of Chicago played a Dexter Gordon record that featured Niels Pedersen on bass, I realized that this musical giant and I might someday have the pleasure and occasion of not just meeting but also playing together. After hearing this phenomenal talent on bass, I realized that somehow, someday we should meet, thereby giving me the opportunity to also play with him. This vision and thought took place in the early 1970s, when I was fortunate enough to be able to invite him to join my then trio.

Oscar Peterson, writing in Jazztimes.[6]


  • 1974: Grammy Award. Best Jazz Performance by a Group, The Trio - Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
  • 1981: Best Bass Player of the Year by Downbeat Critics' Poll[4]
  • 1991: Nordic Council Music Prize


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Albert Ayler
With Roland Kirk
With Dexter Gordon
With Bill Evans-Lee Konitz Quartet
  • 1965: Together Again (Moon Records), live recordings
With Jean-Luc Ponty
  • 1969: Sunday Walk (MPS Records)
With Karin Krog, John Surman, Albert Mangelsdorff, Francy Boland & Daniel Humair
  • 1969: Open Space (The Down Beat Poll Winners in Europe) (MPS Records)
With Ben Webster
  • 1969: Blow Ben, Blow! (Catfish)
  • 1971: Ben Webster in Denmark 1965–1971
With Jørgen Ingmann and Bjarne Rostvold
  • 1971: Sonido Tropical (Belter Records/Discolibro)
With Oscar Peterson
With Torolf Mølgaard
  • 1972: Lone Rider (Artist)
With Paul Bley
  • 1973: Paul Bley/NHØP (SteepleChase)
With Dizzy Gillespie
With Kenny Drew
With Joe Albany
  • 1974: Two's Company ... (SteepleChase)
With Tete Montoliu
  • 1974: Catalonian Fire (SteepleChase)
  • 1977: Tête à Tete (SteepleChase)
With Count Basie
With Milt Jackson
Within 'Day Is Over'
  • 1975: Day Is Over (Scandia)
With Martial Solal
With Stan Getz
  • 1977: Live at Montmartre Vols. 1 & 2 (SteepleChase)
With Roy Eldridge
  • 1977: Roy Eldridge 4/Montreux 77
With Svend Asmussen, Kenny Drew & Ed Thigpen
  • 1977: Prize/Winners (Matrix Records)
With Philip Catherine
With Tania Maria
  • 1978: Tania Maria
  • 1979: Tania Maria & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (Medley Records)
With Joe Pass
With Martial Solal
  • 1978: Suite For Trio (MPS Records), including with Daniel Humair
  • 1981: Movability (Pausa Records)
With Chet Baker
  • 1979: The Touch of Your Lips (SteepleChase)
  • 1979: Daybreak (SteepleChase), Live at Montmartre Vol.1
  • 1979: This Is Always (SteepleChase), Live in Montmartre Vol.2
  • 1979: Someday My Prince Will Come (SteepleChase), Live in Montmartre Vol.3
  • 1985: Chet Baker Plays Vladimir Cosma (Carrere)
With Stephane Grappelli, Philip Catherine & Larry Coryell
  • 1979: Young Django (MPS Records)
  • 1980: Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark (Pablo Live), including with Joe Pass
With Edgar Wilson
  • 1979: Goin' Straight (MPS Records)
With Didier Lockwood, Gordon Beck & Tony Williams
  • 1979: New World (MPS Records)
With Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie & Joe Pass
  • 1980: Digital III at Montreux (Pablo Live)
With Rune Gustafsson
  • 1980: Just The Way You Are (Sonet Gramofon), duo
  • 1989: String Along With Basie (Sonet Gramofon), featuring Janne Schaffer, Georg Wadenius and NHØP
With Dado Moroni
  • 1981: Bluesology
With Archie Shepp
With Toots Thielemans & Joe Pass
  • 1982: Live in the Netherlands (Pablo Live)
With Boulou & Elios Ferré
  • 1983: Trinity (SteepleChase)
With Tete Montoliu
  • 1984: Face To Face (SteepleChase)
With Ulla Neumann and Ulrik Neumann
  • 1985: With Joy And Feelings (Four Leaf Records)
With Claes Crona
  • 1985: With A Little Help From My Friend(s) (Skivbolaget)
With Palle Mikkelborg
  • 1986: Heart to Heart (Storyville), including with Kenneth Knudsen
  • 1990: Hommage: Once Upon A Time (Sonet Gramofon)
With Monty Alexander and Grady Tate
  • 1986: Threesome (Soul Note)
With Kurt Ravn, Fini Høstrup and Jan zum Vohrde
  • 1986: Vi Valgte De 4 Årstider (Skylight Records)
With Niels Lan Doky
With René Urtreger, Christian Escoudé and André Ceccarelli
  • 1987: Masters (Carlyne Music)
With Louis Hjulmand
  • 1987: Play With Us (Olufsen Records), duo
With Allan Botschinsky
  • 1987: Duologue (M•A Music)
With Atilla Engin Group
With Lars Møller, Thomas Clausen and Jimmy Cobb
With Guitars Unlimited
  • 1989: Three for the Road (Sonet Gramofon), meets NHØP
With Maria Joao & Aki Takase
With Bireli Lagrene
With Michel Petrucciani
  • 1994: Petrucciani NHOP (Dreyfus Jazz)
With Sweden Bass Orchestra
With Primož Grašić • NHOP • Martin Drew
  • 1995: Introducing Primož Grašić Trio (Jazzette)
With Mulgrew Miller
  • 1999: The Duets – A Selection of Duke Ellington (B&O)
With Floris Nico Bunink
  • 1999: Breaking The Ice (BV Haast Records)
With Klaus Suonsaari & Niels Lan Doky
With Paquito D'Rivera
With George Shearing
  • 2007: The MPS Trio Sessions (MPS Records, 1977 – 1981), including with Louis Stewart


  1. ^ a b "Bassisten Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen er død" (in Danish). Politiken. 20 April 2005. Retrieved 2014-11-07. 
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen". Biography. AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-11-07. 
  3. ^ "Ørsted Pedersen Recording With Ben Webster 1965–71". Danish National Library, Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  4. ^ a b "1981 DownBeat Critics Poll". 31 August 1981. Retrieved 2014-11-07. 
  5. ^ "N-H. Orsted Pedersen, 58, Bassist in Danish Jazz Scene, Dies" (21 April 2005) New York Times
  6. ^ Peterson, Oscar (2006). "Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen (5.27.46–4.19.05)". Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  7. ^ "The Song is a Fairytale by Frederik Magle (With Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Thomas Eje, et al.)". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 


  • "Scandinavian Wood": The musical career of Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen in the light of his discography by Jørgen Mathiasen. Books on Demand 2010. ISBN 978-3-8423-5157-8.

External links[edit]