Andy Clausen is a New York-based trombonist, composer, producer, and educator. A graduate of The Juilliard School, Clausen currently serves as Artistic Director for Jazz at New York Youth Symphony.
As a trombonist, Clausen maintains an active performance schedule in Jazz, Chamber Music, and Pop/Rock circles. He has performed or recorded with Bill Frisell, Wynton Marsalis, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Frank Wess, Gerald Wilson, Kurt Elling, The After Midnight Orchestra, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Wayne Horvitz, Andrew D'angelo, John Zorn, The American Brass Quintet, Fleet Foxes, Big Thief, Feist, My Brightest Diamond, Patrick Watson, Josh Garells, and Landlady. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fischer Hall, Radio City Music Hall, The Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks, The Kennedy Center, The Ravinia Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, The National Gallery of Art, SF Jazz, Caramoor, The Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, Panorama, Pitchfork Music Festival, Shaky Knees, Outsidelands, Bumbershoot, The Allen Room, Dizzy Club Coca Cola, The Blue Note, Birdland, 54 Below, The Stone, The Earshot Jazz Festival, The Vancouver Jazz Festival, PDX Jazz, Music In The Mountains, The Umbria Jazz Festival, Jazz A Vienne, and the Sound of The Dolomites Festival.
As a composer, Clausen’s works for small and large ensembles explore what it means to grow up in a 21st Century America, in which both artist and listener are expected to be equally versed in the music of Bach and Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong and Leonard Bernstein. By embracing these seemingly disparate traditions with passion, balance, organization, contemplation, and judgment, Clausen is rapidly creating a body of work that connects them with a sense of playful nostalgia. Although jazz is woven into the fabric of Clausen’s music, his projects reflect a belief that Jazz isn’t a "what" but a "how" – how to share the most honest emotions possible with fellow performers and audiences.
Clausen is a founding member of The Westerlies, an award winning new music chamber ensemble comprised of childhood friends from Seattle: Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone.
Formed in 2011, the self-described “accidental brass quartet” takes its name from the prevailing winds that travel from the West to the East. “Skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers” (NPR’s Fresh Air), The Westerlies explore jazz, roots and chamber music influences to create the rarest of hybrids: music that is both "folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music). Equally at home in concert halls and living rooms, The Westerlies navigate a wide array of venues and projects with the precision of a string quartet, the audacity of a rock band, and the charm of a family sing-along.
The ensemble has produced two critically acclaimed albums of genre-defying chamber music: its 2014 debut, Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz (Songlines), and a 2016 double-CD of primarily original compositions, The Westerlies (Songlines). Sought-after collaborators, The Westerlies are also featured on recordings by Fleet Foxes (Nonesuch), Vieux Farka Touré (Six Degrees Records), Common (Lakeshore) and Dave Douglas (Greenleaf). The group is currently developing an evening-length program in collaboration with Grammy-nominated vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann, entitled Song of Refuge & Resistance.
Clausen’s first large-scale composition “The Wishbone Suite” was commissioned by King County 4Culture, and recorded for Table & Chairs Music in 2011. The 19-movement suite for chamber jazz ensemble of clarinet, accordion, piano, trombone and drums embodies Clausen’s playful and vivid musical outlook. In the jazz tradition, compositionally crafted folk-like motifs act as springboards for the ensemble’s improvised material. While the traditional concept of the jazz solo is seldom present in Clausen’s works, improvisatory counterpoint and conversations abound in his music, creating innovative opportunities for his band-mates to assert their personal voices.
Another major outlet for Clausen’s music is The Split Stream Big Band. Formed in 2009, the ensemble has premiered over 20 original works for large Jazz ensemble, inspired by the orchestrations of Gil Evan’s, the rhythmic cycles of Gamelon music and the harmony of Igor Stravinsky. The New York Times has described the ensemble as “sleek, dynamic large-group jazz, a whirl of dark-hued harmony and billowing rhythm...The intelligent sheen of Mr. Clausen’s writing was as striking as the composure of his peers...It was impressive, and not just by the yardstick of their age.”
Clausen’s works have also been performed by Wynton Marsalis, Cuong Vu, The Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, The BMI Composer’s Workshop, The New York Youth Symphony, The Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, The Seattle Chamber Players, and earned him the Gerald Wilson Prize from Monterey Jazz Festival, The Irving Berlin Scholarship from The Juilliard School, The Lotos Foundation Prize, and Earshot Jazz's Emerging Artist of The Year Award.
An active composer for film, television, radio, and advertising, Clausen has been commissioned by The New York Times, Bloomberg TV, Carnegie Corporation, The Whitney Museum, Dell, Morgan Stanley, Mizuho Americas, Freedom House, NPR/KPCC, and Blue Chalk Media. His work has appeared at Austin Film Festival, Greenwich Film Festival, DocNYC Festival, Reykjavik International Film Festival, Seattle 48 Hour Film Fest, and LA Shorts Fest.