June 2, 2010
David Adler review on the live duo concert at Kitano for the NYC All About Jazz monthly paper:

MARC MOMMAAS and NIKOLAJ HESS – Balance @ the Kitano live May 6th,2010.Dutch tenor saxophonist Marc Mommaas and Danish pianist Nikolaj Hess have a rich history as bandmates in Global Motion and other units, but their duo work is a story unto itself, borne out by the 2005 Sunnyside disc Balance. Judging from their appearance at The Kitano, Mommaas and Hess have another album in them, if not more. Each player brought material to the gig, so brand new that the songs lacked titles. But for warm-up as well as the wind-down, they matched wits on standards, first “Alone together” and later “You and the Night and the Music”. Well-worn tunes, to be sure, but the duo’s rhythmic confidence – no need for a drummer here – and spirited flow of ideas made for sweaty, play-for-keeps performances. Mommaas filled the small room with a husky tenor sound, warm and lithe and well proportioned, buoyed by Hess’ fluidity, harmonic command and palpable determination at the keys, a compelling spectacle. Following a lyrical, diatonic major-key waltz by Mommaas and two new charts by Hess (the first with slow hiccuping rhythms, the second calmer, more classically influenced), the duo put itself to the test with Egberto Gismonti’s imposing odyssey “7 Annias”. Mommaas built up to a ’60s-like fury as the bright and twisty opening gave way to an expanded minor vamp section. But the lush rubato sonorities of Hess’ tentatively-titled “folk Song” cleared the air, foregrounding the appeal of the simple and direct. ~David R. Adler, AAJ (2010)


Nikolaj Hess

March 26, 2010

CV Nikolaj Hess:

Danish piano player, composer, producer and arranger.

NH won the gold prize in “Berlingske Tidendes” competition of

non-classical music in Copenhagen and won the category best European jazz piano player under 25 in the RAI competition in Rome (1991).

NH graduated cum laude from Rhythmic Conservatory at 22, and later studied piano and composition in the US with Richie Beirach, Danilo Perez and Gary Dial, Sophia Rosoff and Zitta Zohar. He also studied in West Africa at University of Legon, Ghana, with master drummer Odartey, Dele Sosimi and others and played with legendary saxofonist/singer Fela Kuti in Lagos Nigeria.

His numerous recordings as a composer, leader, co-leader and sideman includes Nikolaj Hess “Global Motion +” , Nikolaj Hess “Spacelab The Champ”, Nikolaj Hess Trio “Playin” (Music Mecca), “Coral” with Gregory Hutchinson, Chris Cheek & Jens Skou (Rainbow), Hessismore “Democrazy” “live at Wood Wood”, Etta Cameron and Nikolaj Hess with Friends, Caroline Henderson Keeper Of The Flame, Marc Mommaas with Nikolaj Hess “Balance” Sissel Vera Pettersen / Nikolaj Hess “By This River” & “A Word”, Global Motion (w Mommaas, Hebert, Moreno) (Sunnyside Records), Hess/Lund/Waidtløew/McBride “Back & Forth”, Ulla Henningsen “The Man I Love” (Sony), “Global Motion Trio” (Calibre)

Nikolaj Hess is leader, co-leader and member of several other groups like NH Quartet, Funky Nacht Music, Hessismore, Hess/Pettersen Dissapearhear, DocStomp.

He is playing and has played with: Marc Mommaas, Tony Moreno, John Hebert, Jay Andersen, Christian McBride, Kenny Wollesen, Jeff Ballard, Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti,

Hal Willner, Caroline Henderson, Etta Cameron, James Genus, Ambrose Akinmusire, Rez Abassi, Ben Monder, Satoshi Takeishi, Ben Street, Francois Moutin, Marylin Mazur, Greg Hutchinson, Essiet Okon Essiet, Donny McCaslin, Jochen Rueckert, Jesper Lundgaard, Mads Vinding, Alex Riel, Lars Danielsson, Jacob Fisher, Johannes Weidenmuller, Tom Rainey, Cameron Brown, Sissel Vera Petersen, Hans Ulrik, Chris Minh Doky. Ulla Henningsen, Julee Cruise, Jamey Haddad, Ed Neumeister, Danny Gottlieb, James Genus, David Liebman, Hal Crook, Harwie Swartz, Jean Luc Ponty, Marcello Pelletiri, Andrea Marcelli, Michael Blair, Kysia Bostic, Ed Howard, Youron Israels, Dennis Charles, Doug Raney, Cæcilie Norby, Debbie Cameron, Lars Hug, Bob Rockwell, Jukka Perko, Severy Pyssalo, Ed Thigpen, Kenneth Bager, Peter Poulsen, Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Annisette Koppel, Ane Trolle, among many many others.

In the Fall of 2002, he was the orchestra director for american theaterguru Robert Wilson’s “The White Town.”

Nikolaj Hess has composed and arranged for solo piano, small groups, large string ensemble, big band, choirs and saxophone quartet. He has also written music for the Danish film company Zentropa, Tju Bang Film and others; and for radio: DR, nkr, Hungarian Radio, Den Kongelige Ballet, Det kongelige teater, Dance companies, installations in collaborations with visual artists.

Nikolaj Hess also works as a studio musician and has played in radio/tv, various websites, at concerts in DK, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Faraoe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ghana, Benin, Turkey, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, United States.

For 6 months Nikolaj Hess lived in Africa, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria studying and playing African music, playing with african music legend Fela Kuti and others.

In New York, Nikolaj Hess has performed  his music at Sweet Basil, Sweet Rhythm, Smoke Jazz Club, Museum of National History, Blue Note, Kitano Lounge, Nublu, Joes Pub, Knitting Factory, Cornelia Street Cafe, Pianos, The Living Room, The Cutting Room, Showmans Jazzclub, C-note, Bowery Poetry Club, among many other places.

Nikolaj Hess has recorded for Stunt Records, Sony, Sundance Music, Music Mecca, Rainbow/Ex Libris, Callibrated, Music For Dreams, Storyville Records, Edel/Mega Records, Olufsen Records, Calibre, Ellipsis Art and Sunnyside Records. He has been awarded many grants from the Danish government, as well as from private foundations, which has twice included the Bikuben Foundation artist-in-residence in New York.

He is sponsored by Bach Pianos Scandinavia

NH is associate professor at the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, and have been teaching part time since 1996. Part of his work includes research/development projects in

composition and recording, among them on: electronic music, combining computer-based interactive music with acoustic improvisation and composition.

He has also been teaching at New School University in New York, The Royal Danish Conservatory of Music, Conservatoire National Superieur de Music de Paris, Funda College, South Africa; Shuttle 2002 South Africa; IASJ 10th annual congress in Köln, and Conservatory of Nonclassical Music in Århus, William Paterson University New Jersey among many other places.


“Jazz with an experimental drive and tension that are unprecedented, made by excellent musicians who know musical expression. Opening Track african trees is a favorite between many. The full emotional piano playing Hess, combined with the fascinating sax Mommaas parties, building into a glowing, super-exciting composition. The rest of the compositions sounds equally intriguing. Another highlight, if I must pick, is the intriguing the village. Get these men but to quickly Netherlands”

(Dick Hovenga  on Global Motion +, Jazz 09)

”I øvrigt det mest inciterende orgel-nummer undertegnede længe har hørt – og tilmed på en af de absolut fedeste orgel-trio udgivelser i årevis, simpelthen” (Thomas Bjørnsten Kristensen Jazz Special 09)

”Modernistisk, mystisk og overlegen duoplade” ”By This River 5 stjerner i JP

“Improvisational art at the higest level… B Rabinowitch Politiken about Nikolaj Hess on Ulrik/Hess Quartet”

“Hess/skou quartet’s version of the music by Carl Nielsen is simply Danish music at its best -T Sjogren Pol”

”Whether working as a sideman or as leader of his own groups, the hallmark of Hess’ work has been his refusal to repeat the set patterns of the past. So it comes as no surprise to find him pursuing two radically different sound worlds that, nonetheless, are tied together by his choice of material and aesthetic sensibility” (Jakob Baekgaard All About Jazz 09)….

”Throughout Global Motion +, Hess and his unit create a musical language of their own, one which combines the worlds of East and West, Eruope and Amerca into a dusty multicultural stew of bouncing rhythms and complex

melodies.”…. ”No matter whether he is working to unite different musical worlds, or getting down on the anatomy of the groove, Hess’ sound world is one that gathers many different aspects of tradition and culture. Global Motion + and The Champ provide two pieces of the puzzle that makes up his many-faceted vision” ….. ”the trio simply smokes and it is no coincidence that it had success at the late night house band at Copenhagen Jazzhouse”

Det var länge sedan en skive grep tag i mig med sådan överväldigande styrka….”Det är lyriskt, poetiskt, drömskt, sceniskt rofyllt och läkande, men ända fullt av dramatik och så långt från förljuget sötslisk man kan komma….Dette är stort, hänförande och konstnärligt”  (Rolf Bernskiöld Lira 09 om ”A Word”)

”en romantisk blid, men også indtrængende og insisterende duoplade, hvor djævelen ligger i detaljen og tvinger dig til at lytte” (Dr Jazznyt ”By This River”)

“Just when you thought that the vocabulary and sound of a piano trio were spent, along comes an inventive group of musicians offering a fresh approach to some rather intriguing old tunes and some out-of-the-ordinary new ones on Coral. Nikolaj Hess (piano), Jens Skou Olsen (bass) and Greg Hutchinson (drums)” Donald Elfman All About Jazz (US 2007)

“Another is “3458,” a memorable theme over shifting meters with some wonderful playing by Hess (a real find)~ Joshua Weiner, All About Jazz (US)2003

“Passages which challenge boh musicians with the difficulty of their execution-execution which they nail with alacrity and empathetic understanding of the others’s direction. Moreover Mommaas and Hess are equally distinctive talents. Each one of them is capable of creating their own spell upon the listener through effective use of dynamics, unusual sonorities, and halting and then surging movement, which are noticeable especially on the first track, Mommaas’ theme from the movie Funny Bones, called “Funny Bones Jones”. Backed by Hess’ crashing chords and angular interjections, Mommaas is left with sufficient space to develop his own improvisation, free and yet accessible………….. “Sorcerer’s Dance”, too, consists of studied compositional originality. It starts with Hess’ free, sparkling piano solo until Mommaas comes in with a his theme, melodic in its initial statement before he proceeds into the remainder of the performance, consisting of variations backed by Hess’ light, flowing chords of subtly transforming meters. “Dialogue” finally allows Mommaas and Hess to play entirely freely, without the pre-determined structure of a written outline, and their understanding of the other’s technique is evident as they spontaneously develop a tune by listening to the other and then elaborating upon it.” (Bill Donaldson Jazz Improv 06)

“With his totally masterful sense of rhythm he tracks the point where the music swings the most with the least effort. He also has the ability to let the music meet him and seize the possibilities that arise through that interaction -B Rabinowitch Politiken

”En alkymistisk og nøgtern nøgenhed – oprigtg og forjættende. Duoen Pettersen-Hess formår hele tiden at fravriste hvert enkelt nummer, jazzet som poppet, sit inderste og gøre det pure, umiskendeligt deres. ”By this River” Jazzspecial 06.

”Kompagniskabet med den intelligent formulerede Hess synes nærmest kongenialt”…”Og Færø er en forfinet ballade med unikt fortællende soli af både Hess og Mommaas”  (Bjarne Søltoft om Global Motion + Jazz Special 09)

Hess trakterer brettet på måder jeg ikke vidste var ”helt lov” og det med vellykket resultat”…” en reise i rommet – i slow motion”  (Frithjof Eide Fjeldstad om spacelab, norsk jazznyt 09)

“Her får man musikken badet i et helt andet lys. En helt anden luftighed. En helt anden, man fristes til at sige skandinavisk, lyd. Resultatet er nutidigt, moderne og i bedste forstand lækkert. Nok mere som det, folk flest ville kalde ny jazz, og med kompositionen ‘ Færø’ foldet ud som en ballade af høj klasse. Med guitar og saxofon til at transportere den lette melankoli ind gennem øregangene” Thomas Michelsen (Politiken 09) Global Motion +, 5 hjerter!

“Noget af det mest fængende fra bunken er en cd med en omgang orn’li’ funky partyjazz fra pianisten Nikolaj Hess’ gruppe Spacelab. Til lejligheden har Hess skiftet klaveret ud med hammondorglet.

Flittige gæster ved Copenhagen Jazz Festival er godt klar over, hvordan trioens hammondbaserede honning flyder. Lækkerierne på Spacelabs ‘ The Champ ‘ er nemlig selve opsummeringen af de sidste seks festivalers funky nattemusik på Copenhagen JazzHouse. Og det er ikke tomme musikkalorier, der gør musikken fed. Fin fantasi og et superkropsligt groove, overlegne orgelpumperier koblet med svedige trommer gør dette til nærende, mættende triojazz. Af den substantielle slags. Thomas Michelsen (Politiken 09) Nikolaj Hess Spacelab The Champ 6 hjerter!



Nikolaj Hess Global Motion + (Stunt)

Nikolaj Hess Spacelab The Champ (Stunt)

Etta Cameron and Nikolaj Hess with friends (with Palle Mikkelborg, Marilyn Mazur, Klavs Hovman, Jens Søndergård) (Stunt 2009) (NHess Producer)

Hess, Cheek, Hutchinson, Skou “Coral” (Rainbow)

Sissel Vera Pettersen Nikolaj Hess: “A Word” (Calibrated 2009)

Hessismore “Democracy”  (Nublu Records 2010)

Hessismore “Live at Wood Wood” (musicfordreams)

Sissel Vera Pettersen Nikolaj Hess: “By This River” (musicfordreams 2007)

Spoiled Child (research & development Rhythmic Conservatory Cph) (Sundance)

Nikolaj Hess Trio: Playin’

Personnel: Nikolaj Hess, Marilyn Mazur, Jesper Lundgaard & Fredrik


[Music Mecca 2001]

Marc Mommaas featuring Nikolaj Hess: Balance

(Sunnyside Records)

Global Motion: “Global Motion”

(Sunnyside Records)

Hess, Lund, Waidtloew, McBride

Personnel: Nikolaj Hess, Morten Lund, Claus Waidtloew & Christian


[Music Mecca 2001]

Global Motion: Mommaas

Personnel: Marc Mommaas, Nikolaj Hess & John Herbert

[Calibre 2000]

Hess/ Skou Quartet

Personnel: Nikolaj Hess, Jens Skou Olsen, Soren Christensen & Jacob Andersen [Storyville Records 1996]

Blue in Green Songs

Personnel: Nikolaj Hess, Peter Vuust, Christian Vuust, Claus Gade

[Olufsen Records 1993]

Ulrik/ Hess Quartet

Personnel: Hans Ulrik, Nikolaj Hess, Hugo Rasmussen, Aage Tanggaard &



[Olufsen Records 1990]

Changes (Danish Jazz)

Personnel: Nikolaj Hess, Jens Skou Olsen, Soren Christensen & Jacob


[Sundance Records 1993]

Etta Cameron with Nikolaj Hess “Spirituals with Nikolaj Hess”

Hessismore “Hits” (musicfordreams) 2009




Jens Skou Olsen “Summer On The Moon” (Calibrated) 2009 (Producer)

Caroline Henderson “no 8” (Stunt/Copenhagen) (co-producer)

Caroline Henderson “Keeper of the Flame” (Copenhagen Records) 2009

Ulla Henningsen “Skønne Spildte Dage”  (Auditorium 2007) (m Nørlund)

Ulla Henningsen: The man I love

[Sony 1996]

Ulla Henningsen: Overgivelse

[Music Mecca]

Kenneth Bager “Fragments From A Space Kadett” (Musicfordreams 2006)

Hessismore: Captain Europe

(Music for dreams)

Hessismore “Denial” (musicfordreams)

Hessismoore “Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern” (musicfordreams)

Etta Cameron: A gospelconcert with Etta Cameron vol 1


Etta Cameron: A gospelconcert with Etta Cameron vol 2


Etta Cameron: My Christmas


Filur: Exciting Comfort

[Mega Records]

Ellipsis Arts Papas Lullaby

[Ellipsis Arts]

Ellipsis Arts “Lullabies for A Small World”

Hess/Dyanni “Anadyomene” (calibrated 2007)

“Flere Filmhits” (Sony)

Jazzbox “jazz is the grass i cut” (Musicfordreams 2007)

Vi lover hinanden [Sony 1998]

Munck/Bjørn/Kodal “Instruktioner til Gud” (ex-libris 2007)

Jens Søndergård: A Bad Case Of Jazz

(Music Mecca)

Helle Henning “Verden lige her” Calibrated 2008

Helle Henning: Måske er det aldrig for sent

(Calibrated/Cope 2005)

Hess/Huntley: Workin’

(Music Mecca 2005)

Listen Up: Listen Up

Lone Selmer Quartet: When first we met

(Music Mecca)

Scandinavian Jazz Quartet: A Night in Bilbao

[Music Mecca]

Scandinavian Jazz Quartet: Silent Knowledge

[Music Mecca]

Jørgen Zacho Quartet: Blues Naive

[Music Mecca]

Renato Emmanuele Quintet “To Meet Again”

[Olufsen Records 1991]

Copenhagen Gospel Quintet “Come By Here” (Say Yes rec 2002)

Vandspejlet Made by You


En julehilsen

[Sony 1994]

Noget saerligt

[Dans Jazzforbund]

7th European Competition

[Response Records]

Hifi best of..


Bo Gunge project

[Gunge Prod.]

Kurt Larsen: Quartet Nuages

[Music Mecca]

Kurt Larsen: Quartet 51

[Music Mecca]

Aphrodesia (Yasmin) “Jovina” (Sundance 2007)

Aphrodesia “indigo” Sundance (Sundance  2007)

Aphrodesia “Lavandou” (Sundance 2004)

All that Jazz from Denmark 92


All that jazz from Denmark 97


“Folk but not Folk” (Musicfordreams 2006)

Fangekoret (Vridsløselille) “Forbryderalbummet”

Bubbers Bog


Peter Poulsen: Jazz & Poesi

(Den grimme ælling)

Til Benny (Andersen) fra Pigerne


Peter Kyle Dance ”in 5 and 7” (DVD)

Phie Ambo Tjubang Film ”Gambler” (dvd)

Benjamin Holmsteen, Katrine Gislinge Nikolaj Hess ”A Piano Tale” Zentropa (kortfilm)