Primary Instrument: Piano
Danish piano/ keyboard player, composer, producer, arranger and educator.
NH won the gold prize in Berlingske Tidendes competition of non-classical music in Copenhagen; won the category best European jazz piano player under 25 in the RAI competition in Rome and was a finalist in Leverkusener Jazztages European Young Artist competition in Germany.
Having graduated from Rhythmic Conservatory at 22, he was the first to get topgrade 13 for his concert performance in piano, his major subject. He later studied in the US with Richie Beirach, Danilo Perez and Gary Dial. He also studied in West Africa with master drummer Odartey and at Legon University in Accra, Ghana....
Awards:RAI's best jazzpianist under 25 years Berlingskes Gold Prize
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)
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)
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 strong support from guitarist Rez Abassi, and pianist Nicolaj Hess, both serving as sympathetic collaborators here. Hence, Mommaas has aligned himself with good company. - Glenn Astarita, All Music Guide (US)2003
Improvisational art at the higest level... B Rabinowitch Politiken
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
This music breathes remarkably free thanks to Nikolaj Hess exclusive harmonic sense
The quartet's version of the music by Carl Nielsen is simply Danish music at its best -T Sjogren Pol