Famous for his work as a teenager in Europe playing with veteran American greats, and for his many recordings as a sidemen with the veteran straight-ahead jazz all-stars for the Pablo label (including Oscar Peterson), bassist Niels Pedersen's own projects tend to be more modern than bop-oriented. For this set, Pedersen's quartet includes three rather notable sidemen: the then fairly unknown guitarist John Scofield; drummer Billy Hart; and Dave Liebman on tenor, soprano, and alto flute. The bassist contributed four compositions, which are joined by a Danish folk song. The nearly 15-minute "Dancing on the Tables" (which utilizes some childlike melodies) and the episodic "Clouds" are highlights of the continually intriguing and adventurous program.
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen was a Danish jazz upright bassist known for his impressive technique and innovative approach. 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.
For those fortunate enough to hear and own the immaculately produced Germany/Black Forest based MPS recordings, distributed as imported pristine virgin vinyl LPs that were pressed in the '70s, you already know the quality of this four-CD set of George Shearing's trio. With the peerless Dane Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Ireland's genius guitarist Louis Stewart, they can hardly do anything wrong musically.
[…] 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. […] Both concerts are intimately recorded and this is easily one of Niels Pedersen's best CDs as a leader. ~Ken Dryden, All Music Guide
Not only is Niels Pedersen a great bassist, but he puts a lot of care into his solo projects as well. Pedersen is joined by guitarist Ulf Wakenius for a slow, percolating version of "Our Love Is Here to Stay." Johnny Griffin's tenor sax joins in on the bassist's challenging blues "The Puzzle" and jousts with the string players for top solo honors on a vigorous workout of "You and the Night and the Music." Victor Lewis and Alex Riel share the drumming duties. ~ AllMusic
Guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels Pedersen, a pair of talented virtuosi, are typically outstanding on this live set of standards. With the exception of their ad-lib "Blues for the Hague," all of the material would qualify as overdone through the years (such as "'Round Midnight" and "Stella by Starlight") but the duo makes these veteran pieces sound fresh and new again. (Scott Yanow, All Music Guide)