Born: December 2, 1969 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Fay Claassen was born in 1969 in Nijmegen The Netherlands. Before she devoted herself to singing, she followed courses at the academy of ballet. Subsequently she studied at the academy of acting after which she finally opted for singing. She completed her study at The Royal Conservatory in The Hague in Holland with remarkable distinctions for jazz-timing and vocal improvisation.
Fay Claassen graduated in 1997 from the Royal Consevatory of The Hague with two special endorsements for Jazz timing and Jazz improvisation. Some of her teachers were: Rita Reys, Deborah Brown, Frans Elsen, Racheal Gould, James McGray, Marjory Barnes and Judy Niemack.
After her conservatory period she appeared as vocalist in different groups and toured through different countries in Europe. Her first recording ‘Simply Be’ was released with a band together with the saxophone player Carolyn Breuer. She was guest in different groups ‘The Tony Overwater V-Group’, Loet van der Lee Group, ‘Big Moves’ and ‘The Amsterdam Jazz Quintet’. With this last formation she recorded on the album ‘Playground’.
Just after the release of the first album of her own she was asked to be part of a tour through Japan with ‘The Historical Dance Theatre’ in which she performed as a dancer and singer After her conservatory period she appeared as vocalist in different groups and toured through different countries in Europe. Her first recording ‘Simply Be’ was released with a band together with the saxophone player Carolyn Breuer. She was guest in different groups ‘The Tony Overwater V-Group’ and ‘The Amsterdam Jazz Quintet’. With this last formation she recorded the album ‘Playground’.
In 1999 Fay Claassen was chosen by ‘The Jazz Impuls Foundation’ as their first selected musician. This foundation supports and promotes jazz musicians deserving wider recognition and produced in that year with Fay Claassen her first own album (‘With a Song in my Heart’ CHR 70096). This album almost instantly nominated for an Edison-Award and was received with highly enthusiastic reviews. It was the first step to a real break-through.
In 2000: Fay featured on the North Sea Jazz Festival (The Hague) with the Tony Overwater group. She became a teacher at the Conservatory of Rotterdam (CodArt).
In 2001: her second album was recorded in New York (‘Rhythms and Rhymes’BMCD 380) with: Toots Thielemans (mouth hrp), Kenny Werner (piano) and Mike Stern (Guitar). A few months later she recorded ‘Specialy Arranged for Fay’ (BMCD 381) with the Millenium Jazz Orchestra, conducted by: Joan Reinders. Conductor and composer Joan Reinders is responsible for the beautiful work on this album. Fay taught at several workshops and Master Classes at Conservatories throughout the country. In 2001, as the only European vocalist, she was chosen and invited by the Selection Committee of The International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) to perform in Los Angeles in 2002. She appeared in several concerts in the ‘Music Village’ jazzclub in Brussels with the Ivan Paduart Trio.
In 2002: Fay toured through China with Ivan Paduart and she was engaged in her promotional tour after the release of her 2nd CD ‘Rhythms and Rhymes’. Fay toured through Portugal and featured on the Jazz Festival of Funchal ( Madeira). This year she was asked to teach at the conservatory in Porto (Portugal). Fay performed in many theatres and clubs in European countries, and the U.S.A.
In 2003: she is invited on Jazz Festivals among which The North Sea Jazz Festival, where she performed for the third time. 2002 was also the year in which she performed as a guest on the Life CD recording ‘A night at the Music Village’ (Brussels) BMCD395, with Ivan Paduart and his trio, other guests were: Toots Thielemans (mouth harp), Bert Joris (trompet) and Toon Roos (saxophone). Fay participated in the Jazz Concours of Juan Les Pins (France), toured with Ivan Paduart through Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Madeira. She participated in the Robeco Jazz Concert Series in the Concert Hall of Amsterdam with Ivan Paduart. Other guests were: Marjory Barnes and vocal group’ Jazzed to the Max’ Fay constantly proves to be an all-round performer who is constantly widening her horizons. The concert in 2003 at the Museum of Altenburg (Leipzich), where she interpreted poems of Lucebert, show this exploration urge..
In 2004: Fay hastoured through Portugal and France. She participated in the cd tour of Ivan Paduart Sextet in France and Luxembourg. Was the star guest at a concert in L 'Opera de Lyon with David Linx and Diederik Wissels. Performed at all the main city theatres of the Netherlands in Duo concerts with pianist Marc van Roon. This performance was part of the concert series of Jazz Impuls. In these series she also toured with the Millenium Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Joan Reinders.
Fay in 2005: is performing during a cd tour, ‘A Tribute to Chet Baker’ with Jan Menu, Hein van de Geyn and John Engels. The CD release of ‘A Tribute to Chet Baker’ is expected in September 2005. She performed as special guest on the extraordinary CD ‘One Heart, Three voices’ from David Linx and Diederik Wissels. Fay is touring in Portugal, Sweden aswell as in France and Belgium. In the last two countries she will contribute to the David Linx, Diederik Wissels and Maria Pia de Vito project. They will be promoting the beautiful album they recorded together:‘One Heart, Three voices’.
Apart from the special sound of her voice Fay stands out as a singer being able to improvise as an extremely versatile instrument. During the last few years Fay is considered by many jazz-critics as worlds fastest upcoming jazz vocalist and she recorded with many very well known jazz musicians as Mike Stern, Kenny Werner, Toots Thielemans, Joe Locke and Steve Davis on her second album ‘Rhythms and Rhymes’, An album with a mix of Jazz and World Music. And Bert Joris, Barry Harris, Marc van Roon and others. The last few years she has been touring with her band and now she is working on her new repertoire of the next Cd: ‘Return to Paradise’ which will be released soon.
Fay is asked to teach jazz-singing in vocal improvisation programs at three different conservatories in different countries. One of them is in Porto (Escola Superior de Musica e Artes do Espectaculo), where she succeeded Maria João. She teaches master classes for second phase students on the Conservatory of Amsterdam and The Hague and is a regular teacher at The Rotterdam conservatory.