Thomas Clausen

Thomas Clausen born 1949 Pianist, composer & arranger According to Gyldendals “The Great Danish Encyclopaedia”: “ Danish jazz piano player and composer, who inspired by both jazz and recent European composition from the beginning of the 1980’s has become one of the important musicians in European jazz. He’s equally appreciated as a solo piano player, trio leader and accompanist for leading American musicians. Further he has worked as a composer for large ensembles in a way, that reveals Alban Berg as a main influence.” So far for the encyclopaedia…..But there are other things to say about Thomas Clausen. He grow up in a musical home. Both parents were teaching mathematics, but while the father was playing a strong and able jazz piano in swing style, the mother came from a family of singers. The apple – or the apples – don’t fall far from the tree as you say; so both Thomas ad his brother Bent have become musicians. Thomas as a piano player and composer, Bent as a vibraphonist and drummer, recently also a conductor on Tom Wait’s and Robert Wilson’s big theatre pieces “Wozzeck” & “The Black Rider”. Thomas Clausen was very young when he began playing with the great players of jazz. His energetic but lyrical piano playing was discovered by Dexter Gordon (1969); at the same time he began working in Palle Mikkelborg’s big projects and small groups (“Riel/Mikkelborg V8” and “Entrance” (the CD “Palle Mikkelborg’s Journey To…”)). And soon he began playing regularly with the bass players NHØP, Bo Stief & Mads Vinding – and with the drummers Alex Riel, Bjarne Rostvold & Kasper Winding. He managed to comp a number of international jazzstars – in the old now gone “Jazzhus Montmartre” in Store Regnegade in Copenhagen: Ben Webster (1972), Elvin Jones, Jan Garbarek, Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Eddie ”Lockjaw” Davis ( the LP “Swingin’ Till The Girls Come Home”), Jackie Mclean & Gary Bartz (the LP “Ode To Super”) and Johnny Griffin (the CD “And The Great Danes”). Just to name a few…. In the middle of the 80’s he was a regular member of the Peter Herboltzheimer International Big Band in Germany ( the LP “More Bebob”). The wish to form his own band was fulfilled in 1978, when he started the group Mirror, which also recorded his first LP with own compositions. ( “Mirror”/CBS/1979). Group was: Jan zum Vohrde (sax/fl), Ole Skibber Moesgaard (b) & Aage Taanggaard (dr). Here the music had already taken a strongly melodic turn after the studies of modern compositional tecnique with composer Ib Noerholm at the Royal Danish Music Konservatorium. In 1979 he formed his first jazztrio, which had NHØP on bass and Aage Tanggaard on drums. This trio recorded two albums, which were very positively received by press and audience: “Rain” (1980) with mainly own compositions – and “The Shadow Of Bill Evans” (1983), which the Japanese recording label (Baystate) wanted to be a tribute to the recently deceased Bill Evans. So the LP accordingly contains a number of arrangements of tunes that are connected with Bill Evans. In more than one instance a kind of re-composition of the material. In 1987 he put together his 2nd jazz trio with Mads Vinding (b) and Alex Riel (dr). In 1988 this trio recorded the CD/LP “She Touched Me” for the german label MA Music. Here again mainly standard tunes in new dresses. The trio participated in the 1st Jazz “par” concerts (Copenhagen, Odense & Paris) in 1990, where it performed with the American vibes player Gary Burton. The collaboration lasted a couple of years and led to the recording of the CD’s : “Café Noir” (1990) and “Flowers & Trees” (1991), and a fine concert in The Cirkus building at the Copenhagen Jazzfestival in 1994. This trio recorded another Cd just as a trio in 1994: “Psalm”. By mid 90’s he was moving into new directions when he began a collaboration with brazilian guitarist/composer Celso Mendes, who introduced him to a number of Brazilian musicians living in Denmark and Germany. The result can be heard on “Festa” (Olufsen, 1995). From this collaboration emerged then his “Thomas Clausen Brazilian Quartet”. By his side was again his old friend Jan zum Vohrde. And so were the Brazilian musicians Fernando de Marco (b) & Afonso Correa (dr). So far this quartet has recorded 3 CD’s – for STUNT Records: ”Follow The Moon” (1998), originals + some Corea & Ivan Lins “Prelude To A Kiss” (2000), originals + some Ellington and Jobim “Balacobaco” (2003), only originals, a mix of choro and classical inspiration. On this the most recent CD the group is extended to an octet with both Mikkel Nordsoe (guitar) and Madame Claude Harptrio, which consists of Pia Kaufmanas (flute), Ida Speyer Groen (viola) & Tine Rehling (harp). Recently David Lasserson from London has replaced Ida Groen. David is both a classical and rhythmic/improvising musician. Thomas Clausen Brazilian Octet now has the status of “Special Ensemble”, and is getting a special support from the “Kunststyrelsen”. from

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