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News |  17 Feb 2020 19:02 |  By Namrata Kale

I was faced with the challenge of getting ahead musically, organizing gigs and putting down music I had in mind: Saxophonist Klaus Graf

MUMBAI: After having played as a sideman with different national and international jazz formations, alto saxophonist Klaus Graf founded his own quartet in 2001. A large part of the music consists of Graf’s compositions which were written for the purpose of serving the quartet’s concept: jazz with the character of soul, melody-based and groove-driven for the body and mind.

The musicians in the Klaus Graf Quartet are internationally recognized jazz soloists who have worked together with iconic jazz legends. To dig deep about this we spoke to  Klaus wherein he has given us immense information in-depth about himself.

Check below.

Could you give us a glimpse of your journey in music?

I started playing the clarinet playing at the age of 9 years. Saxophone I started at the age of 12. Since my first notes in music, I was interested in improvisation! After I joined a school jazz band at the age of 15, I started to practice properly on my instrument and to love jazz music. When I was 19 I started studying jazz saxophone at the music academy in Cologne. At the same time, I became a member of the founding cast of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. The participation in this band has opened the doors for many musicians for a professional music career. So I got a job with the Radio Big Band in Stuttgart. I still play Lead Alto in this band (now over 30 Years..!!!). I have been teaching jazz saxophone at the University of Music in Nuremberg for 20 years. I conduct many workshops national and international and I have several own band projects from modern jazz to funk to Latin music. So also my own jazz quartet, the Klaus Graf Quartet, for which I compose music.

What are the challenges that have you faced?

Even as a student, I was faced with the challenge of getting ahead musically, organizing gigs for myself and my bands and putting down the music I had in mind. Then came the challenge of organizing music and family (I have two sons who have grown up).

Most of these challenges have remained to this day. I am a good networker. I love to be in contact with other people to make a difference together. For example, bringing the audience to a great concert. It is also a great challenge to set up a tour to India, for example. I worked on the current tour for almost a year!

Who/What has been your motivation?

All great saxophonists. Especially Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley, of course. The famous big bands by Thad Jones, Count Basie, and Duken Ellington were a great inspiration for me and have remained so until today! I always like to get new impressions from my students at the music academy. They are always up to date in music and I learn a lot from you about current jazz trends

Could you tell us something about your learning experience in music?

I still learn a lot from records and CD recordings from other great musicians. Not just recordings with saxophone, but also recordings by great musicians with other instruments. Pianists, drummers, bassists, and so on I also listen to many different styles of music in order to continue my education: jazz, Latin, funk, classical, and last but not least also Indian classical music!

The musicians in the Klaus Graf Quartet are internationally recognized jazz soloists who have worked together with iconic jazz legends such as Al Jarreau, Patti Austen, to name a few. Could you tell us something about  Klaus Graf Quartet.

I started with my Quartett in 2002. The reason was, that I started writing down the music I had in my head and wanted to play it with my own band. Together with very good musicians who could implement my music as I imagined it. It was also very important for me to play with musicians with whom I could have a closer friendship. This is not the case in every band!

But that was very important to me. It has remained that way until today and the older I get, the more I value these friendly relationships and the shared experience of making music together.

We have been playing with this band with the same line-up for over 10 years now. Besides, we all work in different groups and the other musicians also have their own bands and projects.

Sometimes we work with well-known musicians. Two years ago I had a project with the radio big band Stuttgart with the music legend Quincy Jones! To have met Quincy was a special highlight for me in my career so far!

Your observation about the jazz music scene in India.

On our last India tour in 2017, we had the opportunity to play with Indian jazz musicians. It was really a fantastic thing. In music and especially jazz when improvising, all musicians speak the same language! It's just great that you can communicate with it anywhere in the world. Without words, just about the music. We hope that we can meet many musicians again on this concert tour and exchange ideas with you!

You would be performing at NCPA on 18 February’20 . Are there any surprise elements that you have planned for the audience?

I have composed an India suite in three movements, especially for this tour. I called it Mysore Suite and it is dedicated to this unique city of Mysore in the province of Karnataka. We were there on our last tour and I was deeply impressed by the famous Maharaja Palace. Part One is called „Lights of Mysore“ Part Two „Secret of the Palace“, Part Three „Game On“. The live premiere of this suite will be at the NCPA Concert in Mumbai!

Where would you be performing next?

On our India Tour, we would be playing in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Goa, and Kolkata. Back home each of us is involved in different projects until early summer. Then we are going playing some more gigs in clubs and some festivals.