Boris Rabinowitsch in Politiken April 30, 2007:
AT A HIGH LEVEL
Thomas Clausen Trio: BACK TO BASICS
(Stunt Records, STUCD 07062)
Receives 5 hearts out of 6
As is the case with other leading European pianists, Thomas Clausen would not mind to acknowledge
the great importance of which especially Bill Evans has been to him. However, what is also remarkable
is the high extent to which Clausen has intensified the personal expression of his playing. This has not
been all cost free. There was a transitional period where his playing, at that time mainly based on
chords, could seem too uptight.
The way it comes out on his new CD, however, the music is again delicately balanced with lines of
single notes. And similarly Clausen has succeeded in redressing the balance between the impetus,
which represents one side of his musical expression, and the calm necessary for the music to be in
The title of the CD is “Back To Basics”, Clausen having returned to a number of standards that here
once again confirm their constancy. Tunes as Harold Arlen’s “That Old Black Magic”, Jerome Kern’s
“Dearly Beloved”, and Thelonius Monk’s “Round Midnight”. Plus a couple of Clausen’s own compositions
that brilliantly match this celebrated company.
This has become an outstanding release, on which especially Clausen’s exquisite artistry of
harmonizing gives such strong unique character to the music. And to this is added the economy, the
sense of also letting the rests speak that marks a great deal of the music. This is also very true of
bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek, who performs a high-class response as an accompanist, and as
a soloist shapes each note with thought. And similarly Karsten Bagge on drums understands
to add both the right energy and finely varied coloring of sound in that interplay.
Boris Rabinowitsch in Politiken July 2003:
ENCHANTING - A MASTERPIECE
Thomas Clausen Brazilian Quartet + Friends: BALACOBACO
(Stunt Records, STUCD 03112)
Pianist Thomas Clausen’s relationship with Brazilian music has developed into a deep-felt reciprocated
love. Not so much the bossa nova, which is well known for having incorporated jazz-impulses, but the
so-called choros, sprung from traditional sources. What Clausen has done with them on his latest
release, “Balacobaco”, makes me think of what Astor Piazzolla has done with the Argentine tango. For
like Piazzolla, Clausen has refined the original music and raised it to a sphere where it amalgamates
with influences from the classical-European tradition. And what is more, he has done so without
damaging its roots.
I should not be at all surprised to learn that Clausen has actually borrowed motifs and subsequently
developed them. The reason why the music is so utterly spellbinding is that it creates a feeling of
intimacy that goes straight to the heart, while at the same time being so abundant in musical riches
that it never ceases to offer ingenious surprises.
The nucleus of the ensemble is Clausen’s Brazilian Quartet with Jan zum Vohrde on alto sax and flute,
Fernando Demarco on bass, Afonso Corrêa on drums and Clausen himself at the piano; here with the
addition of guitarist Mikkel Nordsoe and the Madame Claude Harp Trio, i.e.Pia Kaufmanas on flute, Ida
Speyer Groen on viola, and Tine Rehling on harp. And Clausen has arranged his music for this ensemble
with an elegance that is perfectly congenial to the performance itself. Solo voices emerge in the most
beautiful way, but everything forms a perfect synthesis where spontaneity also works as an incentive in
the written passages.
Yes, we have before us a masterpiece.
In one of the tunes, “Turkey”, Balkan music also finds its way into Clausen’s universe without seeming
out of place. And as I hear it, his “Song Of Love”, a piano solo, not only sends its greetings to Frederic
Chopin, but also to Billy Strayhorn!