Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

This Is All I Ask

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It is surprising that first-call bassist Niels Pedersen has recorded relatively few dates as a leader during his decades-long career; This Is All I Ask proves to be one of his most eclectic and rewarding CDs, as he's accompanied by guitarist Ulf Wakenius and drummer Jonas Johansen, and several special guests. His singing, lyrical tone on his instrument comes across right away, especially on the two traditional melodies "Quiet Solitude" and "Tranquility in the Woods," the latter featuring pianist Oscar Peterson in a relatively rare appearance as a sideman during his later years. The European pop singer Monique is someone Pedersen discovered when he heard her on his daughter's radio; he showcases her on a funky original called "Summer Song" (not to be confused with Dave Brubeck's well-known piece of the same name). The Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund, who occasionally worked with pianist Bill Evans when he toured Europe, is joined by alto sax great Phil Woods and Pedersen's trio for a heartfelt, swinging take of "Taking a Chance on Love," while Woods is the sole guest heard on the slow, very emotional rendition of "This Is All I Ask." Pedersen's trio tracks are all first-rate as well. His virtuoso side comes across in another original work, "Traces of the Past," while his playful post-bop reading of the old show tune "Just in Time" is the cooker of the entire set. Not widely distributed outside of Europe, this is easily one of Niels Pedersen's finest recordings.

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