Jesper Hedegaard, pianist, composer and producer has played over 1800 concerts in Brazil.
Jesper has Brazil in his heart and has lived in the country through the 80s and 90s, where he has performed at, among others, Teatro Castro Alves, Teatro Vila Velha, Espaço Cultural da Telebahia and Instituto Cultural ICBA. In Bahia he has played with bassist Ivan Bastos for 10 years, and in 1987 he received the trophy Caymmi with his group “Grupo Asas”.
In Denmark, Jesper has led the New Brazilian Quartet for 12 years and has performed at the Music Café, Copenhagen Jazzhouse, Vega, Montmartre and many other venues in the country. He has also appeared in Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United States.
Since 2010, Jesper Hededgaard Trio, Jesper Hedegaard MIB5 and Jesper Hedegaard Sound of Brazil have played concerts in Brazil at venues such as TribOz, Wagner Tiso Jazzclub, Santo Scenario, Centro Municipal de Referência da Música Carioca, Beco das Garrafas, Jazz B, Jazz nos Fundos, Núcelo Contemporânio, Avivo Music and in Denmark at Giant Steps, Café Divino, The Portal, Lyngby Jazz Club, The Jazz Company in Aarhus, Paradise Jazz, Hornbæk Jazz Club, The Work in Randers, Kulturhuset Islands Brygge, Tranquebar etc.
Jesper has played with instrumentalists such as Luiz Chuim de Siqueira (drums), Ricardo Costa (drums), Rafael Barata (drums), Afonso Corrêa (drums), Renato Massa (drums), Celso de Almeida (drums), Magno Bissoli (drums) , Fernando Pinto Pereira (drums), Renato Endrigo (drums), Proveta (sax), Paulinho Trumpet (flute horn), Diogo Gomes (trumpet), Mauro Senise (sax, flute), Marcelo Martins (sax, flute), Simon Thorsen ( scissors, flute), Alexander Kraglund (violin, harp), Simon Spang-Hanssem (scissors, flute), Celso Mendes (guitar), Dudu Penz (bass), Sidiel Vieira (bass), Sizão Machado (bass), Dodo Ferreira ( bass), Adriano Giffoni (bass) Jorge Degas (bass), Ivan Bastos (bass), Sergio Barroso, (bass), Rodrigo Villa (bass), Rômulo Duarte (bass), Jorge Oscar (bass), Bo Stief (bass) , Morten Ankarfeldt (bass), Niels Lichtenberg (bass), Marquinho (percussion).
A lifelong romance
When I first heard Brazilian music as a 16-year-old, I got goosebumps and I was struck by lightning. It was my best friend playing vinyls by Sergio Mendes Brasil 64 and João Gilberto for me. I immediately fell in love and here my quest to master the art began to play Brazilian music.
I was 20 when I went to Brazil for the first time. I traveled for 3 weeks with Bernhard Christensen – my music teacher for 10 years – and most of my fellow students to research and acquire material on Brazilian music. I felt completely at home at the first encounter with this amazing country and wonderful culture.
The following year I met Luiz Chuim de Siqueira in Paris. I didn’t know that meeting would be one of the most important in my life. It was in the club Le Bilboquet where he played drums with Tania Maria.
I became friends with Chuim and when I returned to Denmark after three weeks, he gave me an offer that changed my life forever. He told me he had a group called Boa Nova and he wanted me to book the group in Denmark. I asked him to send me pictures, press release and demo. The musicians were Paulinho Trumpet – Flugelhorn, Pascal Jamgotchian – sax and flute, Mozar Terra piano, Manasse Lourenço de Souza – cavaquinho, Alfredo Nascimento guitar, Ricardo Santos bass and Luiz Carlos Siqueira (Chuim) – drums. Later it became clear to me that they were among Brazil’s best musicians.
I got in touch with the Danish Jazz Center, where Arnvid Meyer gave me a list of jazz clubs in Denmark. In a short time, they managed to book 21 jobs throughout Denmark as well as live recordings in DR Radio by Jens Jørn Gjedsted. Boa Nova was based in my family’s house, where they practiced practically every day for the 3 months they lived there. For Boa Nova I was a producer, roadie, soundman, driver and banker.
Boa Nova opened to deep knowledge of Brazilian music. Mozar Terra gave me piano lessons and taught me well-known bossa novas like Desafinado and Wave, which resulted in a special interest in Antonio Carlos Jobim. Chuim, who lived in Denmark, spent years giving me insight into Brazilian music history at weekly meetings. Boa Nova’s music was full of new input on MIB (Brazilian Instrumental Music), which was not available anywhere else at that time. I am very grateful to have spent 3 intense months with Boa Nova.
In 1977 I started the Ritmo Calienete group with Chuim, Chico Navarro and Jacob Andersen, among others. It became a huge success, and 15 years later I saw Ritmo Caliente mentioned in Musikbladet MM, as the first salsa band in Denmark in an article by Ib Skovgaard.
As a 24-year-old, I sold my beloved Hindsberg piano and went to great lengths to get the Brazilian soul closer. I wanted to play Brazilian music as a Brazilian and understand Brazilian culture from the inside. Drawn by a deep sense of necessity and longing, I went in 1979 to Rio de Janeiro with a suitcase and $ 1,000 in my pocket, with no plans other than to play and learn as much as possible.
I spent 4 months in Rio where I lived privately with various friends and met a lot of wonderful musicians. Then I lived for 8 months in São Paulo, where I started playing professionally. I rented a room with a friend who lived in Pompeia. Regina, as she was called, told me many times about the hind trip to Bahia, and she said so often that I should go to Salvador that after 8 months in SP I ended up traveling the 2500 km there by bus.
Already in the first week I got a permanent job at a 5 star hotel with a band. I ended up living in Salvador for 10 years. I played Brazilian music 5-6 days a week, including my own band GRUPO ASAS, which was voted best band of the year by Projeto Troféu Caymmi – Salvador 1987. I played thousands of concerts, for example at Teatro Castro Alves, Teatro Vila Velha, Hotel Meridien, Hotel Quatro Rodas Espaço, Cultural da Telebahia and Instituto Cultural ICBA including national icons like Mucha and Zeze Motta.