About the album
The Danish pianist, composer and arranger Thomas Clausen spans many genres. Inspired by jazz, Brazilian music and new European classical music, Thomas Clausen has become an important voice in European jazz. He enjoys great respect as a solo pianist, as a leader of trios and accompa- nist for outstanding American musicians, an inspiring collaborator with vocalists and leader of large orchestras. He has created wonderful music with vibraphonist Gary Burton and written several works for classical ensembles. Thomas Clausen is a man of diverse talents.
He started his first jazz trio in 1979, and its many incarnations have continued to put out critically acclaimed albums. The most recent, BACK TO BASICS, includes bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk and drummer Karsten Bagge in a trio that plays exquisitely with open minds and intui- tive communication. Bagge and Fonnesbæk also form the backbone of Thomas Clausen Sxtet on the beautiful release SPANISH BLUE. Here the trio is augmented with bandoneon player Paulo Russo, guitarist Per Gade and saxophonist Peter Fuglsang.
Thomas Clausen has gathered these superb local musicians to set his compositions in a colorful framework inspired by various musical wor- lds. The light touch of Clausen’s music sparks in the hands of his Sxtet, as they push the boundaries of the classic jazz tradition adding elements from jazz-rock, Brazilian music, tango and European classical music. With a deep bow to many musical idioms, this music sprawls in many directions while never losing focus. Thomas Clausen’s Sxtet carries the flame of tradition even as they examine and renew it on an album that is easy to keep enjoying and difficult to categorize.
Russo’s instrument, the bandoneon, is closely associated with tango, a fact that has influenced the music on SPANISH BLUE, but Clausen uti- lizes the expressive instrument to his own end, and - in interplay with Fuglsang’s and Gade’s saxophone and guitar – the instrumentation is deeply original. Thomas Clausen has a wonderful feel for the sound of the instruments in his orchestra – the ensemble becomes his instrument. At a very young age, Clausen began playing with many of the big names in jazz. His energetic piano playing was discovered by Dexter Gordon in 1969, around the same time that he began his long-term collaboration with Palle Mikkelborg in V8 and Entrance. Soon he was playing regularly with bassists Niels Henning Ørsted-Pedersen, Bo Stief and Mads Vinding and drummers Alex Riel and Bjarne Rostvold – often at the Jazz House Montmartre accompanying international jazz stars Ben Webster, Elvin Jones, Jan Garbarek, Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Jackie McLean, Gary Bartz, Johnny Griffin and others.
In 1978 he formed Mirror, the first group under his own leadership. Mirror also recorded the first LP of Clausen’s music, which even at this early stage – due to Clausen’s studies in classical composition - had taken a very melodic turn.
In the mid-90’s Clausen began to work with Brazilian guitarist and com- poser Celso Mendes, who introduced him to several other Brazilian musicians. This collaboration lead to Thomas Clausen Brazilian Quartet, which recorded three CD’s for STUNT Records. Since then, he has also worked with guitarist and percussionist Celia Malheiros and saxophonist and flutist Carlos Malta, resulting in AFTER THE CARNEVAL (STUNT 2008), an intimate and vibrant tribute to the cornucopia of Brazilian music.