Niels Pedersen made many rewarding recordings over several decades as a sideman with the late pianist Kenny Drew, so his making of a CD in tribute to him shouldn't come as a surprise. Joined by pianist Renee Rosnes and drummer Jonas Johansen, Friends Forever: In Memory of Kenny Drew primarily include selections which Drew loved to play. The Danish folk lullaby "Hushaby" is a bit unusual, as it includes a drum solo, as well as Rosnes' dirge-like piano. Pedersen's pulsing bass helps to disguise the introduction to "Someday My Prince Will Come," a lovely waltz recorded by numerous jazz greats. A lively post-bop workout of "Lullaby of the Leaves" swings like mad; while an initially funky introduction to "The Shadow of Your Smile" quickly gives way to a more traditional samba treatment. Pedersen's originals also merit attention. The medley "Future Child-Friends Forever" begins with the leader's intricate pizzicato solo, then adds his partners for the second song, which spotlights Pedersen's flawless arco bass. His special tribute "Kenny" reflects Pedersen's sense of loss without getting overly maudlin. This brilliant date adds to the already considerable recorded accomplishments of Niels Pedersen.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden