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Nikolaj Hess

User A fusion of tradition and modern brilliance. Harmonizing virtuosity with profound depth and orchestrating melodies that echoes of emotive storytelling and resonance


Nikolaj Hess’s piano playing is characterised by a personal delicate golden touch and mix of superb sense of groove and melodic and creative imagination. His inspirations certainly include a deep insight into the american and Nordic jazz tradition, but also reflect his musical openmindedness, where his influences span from electronica and krautrock over classical and folk to worldmusic and roots.

Down Beat / Magnet Magazine jazz critic Mitch Myers wrote “Nikolaj Hess is one of the most inventive jazz pianists working today” in a recent review in Magnet Magazine, and NH has won several prizes and awards, starting with being chosen as the best European Jazz piano player under 25 in the RAI competition in Rome. NH is well established as a highly estimated international jazz pianist and composer, and he spends a good portion of his time and life in the jazz and culture capital New York, which has further developed his international musical citizenship and established him on the scene there. NH has also written music for film, among them LVTs Melancholia, and latest Anders Refns De Forbandede År, and he has collaborated and played with an impressive list of jazz and related musicians around the world, counting Lee Konitz, Marc Mommaas, Christian McBride, Fela Kuti, Ambrose Akinmusire, Tony Scherr & Kenny Wollesen and many many others, and you might have seen him in Hess Is More or as the pianist and music director for Caroline Henderson.

Christian Munch Hansen gave 5 hearts in Politiken (DK) in the review of Hess's first impressions of Bob Dylan at a packed National Museum of Art concert and wrote: Hess grabbed the ears of both the material - and the audience. And he managed in a fascinating way to stretch Dylan's songs out between different emotional zones, between rhythmic power expression and essential, melodic immersion. Nikolaj Hess showed great care and artistic sense in interpreting Bob Dylan's music, so that one could sense a clear integration also of the textual universe in his pianistic unfolding. ‘Masters of War’ thus came rolling like an ever-growing wave of pressing war rumors. And in Dylan's unforgettable love ballad ‘Make You Feel My Love’ from ‘Time Out of Mind’, Hess in the most beautiful way juxtaposed melody and chords against each other and then released the right hand in gorgeous melodic lines. “Danish pianist Nikolaj Hess careened between heart-melting delicacy and almost Chopinesque virtuosity. Hess is clearly equipped to face the most gargantuan technical demands, but it was the incredible fecundity of his imagination that impressed the most” (Peter Quinn Art Desk, London) “Gold dust. Nikolaj Hess’ fingers on the keyboard is an alchemical affair. An album with a wide range of expression, yet spiritually coherent.” (Politiken) “This is art of the highest standard, and a record which will most definitely be a “best of” 2016.” (Allaboutjazz 2016)

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Sacha Kjøller

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