CPH’s jazz district

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January 21, 2013 by Matt

One of my first posts on this blog was about accidentally discovering the grave of jazz drummer Ed Thigpen in my local cemetery.

That pattern of accidental discovery of Copenhagen’s jazz heritage continued this weekend. I’m very excited to have found myself in a city that wears its affinity with jazz players so proudly. The Ed Thigpen grave is next to the grave of Thad Jones (more of which in a minute) and they’re both lying next to the graves of a lot of former Danish prime ministers, so that’s quite an esteemed place to be.

But whilst flat hunting with Dorte this weekend, we ended up in the city’s Sydhavn district. It’s full of housing developments that have sprung up in the past five years, and it’s an area undergoing huge regeneration. I’d noticed the interesting street names on a map before but finally got a chance to see them myself when we viewed a flat down that way.

I’d like to shake by the hand the city planner who took the admirable decision to name a lot of road names down there after American jazz guys who all had an association with Copenhagen. So, we cycled around…

Oscar Pettifords Vej – a double bass player who died here in 1960.

Oscar Pettifords Vej

Ben Websters Vej – my personal favourite of the lot (his Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson LP is a truly great thing). He was a saxophonist who died in 1973 in Amsterdam while he was a CPH resident, and his ashes are buried in Copenhagen’s Assistens Cemetery in Nørrebro.

Ben Webster Vej

Dexter Gordons Vej – a saxophonist who died in 1990 but had lived in Copenhagen.

Dexter Gordons Vej

Ernie Wilkins Vej – another saxophonist who died here in 1999

Ernie Wilkins Vej

And finally, Thad Jones Vej – a trumpet player who died here in 1986 and who is buried next to Ed Thigpen, where this post started.

Thad Jones Vej

It seems that Copenhagen’s rich jazz history needs a lot more exploring than I’ve given it so far. Even just checking the facts for this post, I found that Ben Webster played two shows at Tivoli Gardens here in 1971 with none other than jazz legend Duke Ellington. These are available on DVD, so (nudge, nudge Dorte), that’s one for my Christmas list next year, for sure.

Duke Ellington live at Tivoli Gardens

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