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Andy Clausen: The Wishbone Suite

Dan McClenaghan By

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Nineteen year old trombonist Andy Clausen started his music studies at The Julliard School in the fall of 2010. He did not wait to finish his studies before releasing, in March of 2012, his debut CD, The Wishbone Suite. Apparently the music was in him and it had to be recorded.

The music on The Wishbone Suite is, in Clausen's words, "a collection of simple melodies, themes and chord structures that chronicle a childish romance I had in the second grade." With an unusual ensemble consisting of trombone, piano, accordion, and clarinet along with drums and glockenspiel, the sounds laid down are by turns playful, pretty, spacious and uninhibited, and often imbued with an engaging childlike goofiness that bumps up against a simple purity and occasional grandeur.

The nineteen vignettes start with "Who Goes There? (Theme)," which contrasts the creamy smoothness of the clarinet with the delicate tinkle of glockenspiel, both dancing around the trombone's low tones. The accordion's whispered sighs lead into "May, Alone," with the clarinet searching in front of a subdued drum rumble. "The Pursuit II" and "The Pursuit" are puckish carnival ride romps, and "Dream" has a dark and introverted feeling which leads into the turbulent and ominous "Trouble (Again)."

Throughout the suite there is a folk song directness and simplicity of melody married to grander harmonies, an expression of unfiltered childhood experience washed—in a painterly sense—with the wisdom gleaned from Clausen's musical studies. The mood of a chamber ensemble (one that is not averse to having some wide-eyed fun, or that hasn't lost any sense of wonder) prevails. At nineteen years of age, Clausen displays some youthful wisdom in presenting his music before the end of his formal education, choosing rather to strike a creative spark while the memories and emotions are still sharp. These compelling tunes, songs that speak to the innocence and intensity of youthful experience, are arranged and played marvelously on his auspicious debut.

Track Listing: Who Goes There? (Theme); May, Alone; Interlude I; Affinity (Theme); The Pursuit II; Wishbone; Trouble; Who Goes There? (Dance); To and From; Who Goes There? (Again); Interlude II; Courage; The Pursuit; Dream; Trouble (Again); Affinity (Dance); Dialogue (Theme); Badlands; Affinity (Theme, Again).

Personnel: Andy Clausen: trombone; Ivan Arteaga: clarinet; Gus Carns: piano; Aaron Otheim: accordion, piano; Chris Icasiano: drums, glockenspiel.

Title: The Wishbone Suite | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Table and Chairs Music


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