Award Winning Jazz Bassist
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About the album “Autoportrait”
Recorded solo in New-York in 2020, Clovis Nicolas’ latest album is like a pandemic notebook, a double bass manual and a pure poetic act. Less breathtaking than generous. Sure hand, elegant posture, tremendous precision on the fingerboard, with that inner sight – “that magnificent sound,” says his mentor Ron Carter – Clovis Nicolas paces the double bass like one breathes. His hand is alternately caressing on the chords, and fearless when he returns to the “walking bass”, the tempo of the Gods.
Strength, tone, dexterity and sensitivity to rhythmic phrasing carry the 42-minute program, which moves steadily through the bassist’s influences, starting with a nod to Bach’s cello suites. He references bebop, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Lennie Tristano, Dave Holland and “Rhythm” changes with propulsion that sustains interest in where he’s going. His composition “Four Steps” is a knuckle-buster.
The solo bass recording has recently crept from total rarity to something like a rite of passage; consider the recent, redoubtable entries by Larry Grenadier, Jorge Roeder, Michael Formanek and John Patitucci. Now comes Autoportrait, a beautiful example of the form by French-born bassist Clovis Nicolas. Developed over the last year – but in the works, on some level, for much longer than that – it’s an impressively well-rounded statement, and often a deeply lyrical one.
About the album “Freedom Suite Ensuite”
An elegantly composed and richly rendered suite that is both timely and timeless. Clovis Nicolas gives us the soundtrack for our times, enriching the world with his fierce creative spirit and coherent vision for freedom. Freedom Suite Ensuite is a heart-pounding, incandescent triumph to liberty not just in music but in all its forms. On these thirteen tracks, you’ll hear jazz musicians of the highest order sparkling with colorful melodies and soaring solos.
Here is the universe that Clovis Nicolas chose to explore in this chord-less setting, his upright bass being at the core of the orchestra. By picking not one, but two horn players, he is not tempted to imitate the Rollins-ian trio formula, but he preserves its spirit, and the result is impressive [..] We already knew that Clovis Nicolas was one of the best bass players of his generation, now we discover a new side to his talent. At a time of useless or recurring hommages and tributes, here is one that is as rare as it is meaningful.
(+ Feature in Jazz Magazine Editorial’s Playlist)
“We never really doubted it, but Clovis Nicolas’ experience and musical intelligence didn’t fail to transcend the ever challenging exercise of interpreting such a strong and unique classic masterpiece as Sonny Rollins’ Freedom Suite. To do it in a chord-less format goes without saying. But to extend it into a quartet with trumpet, while including his own originals, was less obvious and far more risky [..] The New York bassist’s fresh look beautifully illustrates how to play free within a form. A form that the whole album pays tribute to, while being more than just that. Which is even harder. Splendid.”
about the album “NINE STORIES”
A formidable walker with a big, resonant tone, Nicolas also distinguishes himself as a first-rate composer on this persuasive outing [..] Clovis’ impressive first as a leader – brimming with fresh energy and outstanding arrangements – definitely marks him as a talent deserving of wider recognition.
Selected in “Best Albums 2014” (see here)
An immensely appealing date with a tight, swinging sextet of up-and-coming players [..] I hear a leader whose perceptive playing is part of the overall sound of the band rather than a cat overemphasizing his bass above everyone else in the mix. That discipline is Nicolas’ strong suit and his arrangements reveal a thoughtful musician at ease with mixing classic jazz sound with modern contours.
An album that properly introduces Clovis as a powerful new voice on bass.
We are here in a predominantly bop world, a universe which complexity is quite clearly the ideal environment for Nicolas’ temperament, whom as a bassist has a nice full sound and never neglects the swing feel, and as a composer does not lack imagination, as showcased in such unpredictable melodies as Juggling and Mothers And Fathers.