Niels Pedersen became one of the most heralded jazz bassists of his generation, playing with Bud Powell and Sonny Rollins while gaining international acclaim for his many recordings with Oscar Peterson. But the phenomenal bassist, whose sound is readily identifiable with a note or two, especially shined as a leader. This live CD documents a pair of concerts with guitarist Ulf Wakenius (who also worked with Peterson) and drummer Jonas Johansen, the first five tracks from 1999 and the last six from Pedersen's final recorded concert in March 2005, just a few weeks before his sudden death from a heart attack. The first set shows the bassist's many musical interests, blending his intricate solo arrangement of a piece by Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach with his own mellow "Memories," a brisk samba treatment of the standard "The Song Is You," Wakenius' up-tempo cooker "Lines" and a subtle but virtuoso setting of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." The latter performance fits seamlessly with the one from six years earlier. The intricate interplay between Pedersen and Wakenius is amazing in "You and the Night and the Music," with Johansen's alternating between brushes and sticks. Their inventive approach to Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" is another highlight, while Pedersen's love of his homeland is evident in a pair of lush arrangements of folk songs from Denmark and Scandinavia. This superb release wraps with an easygoing setting of "Our Love Is Here to Stay" in which both Pedersen and Wakenius dazzle the audience with their formidable technique. Both concerts are intimately recorded and this is easily one of Niels Pedersen' best CDs as a leader.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden