In 1975 the third program of the Bavarian Radio (BR3) made a survey to find out who their younger jazz listener was: to their astonishment it was a 8 years old child. His name was Claus Raible.
Claus wasn’t born in a family of musicians or jazz-lovers who provided him an education in jazz at early age. While attending primary school he discovered jazz on his own, through a little radio and soon started to record the transmissions, listening to themes and solos over and over again, until he knew them by heart.
He grew up listening Duke Ellington, Basie, Ear Hines and Art Tatum, investigated the roots of jazz, stride piano and blues and by the time he finished primary school he knew more about jazz than most of music student twice his age. In his early teens, his insatiable music curiosity led him further into modern jazz and avantgarde. The music of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor had a powerful influence on the evolution of his musicality.
By the time he was eleven years old Claus started to play trumpet, and at age fourteen piano became his second instrument: during the same period encountered the musical universes of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell: their impact was to become the lighthouse of his musical life.
Monk was the first to attract the the 15 years old neo-pianist to his music: he was a stride pianist who didn’t play stride, influenced by Gospel music, with a unique originality in playing and composing. Bud Powell’s intensity, creativity and the extraordinary intelligence behind his tonal and harmonic system was a shot of adrenaline, the discovery of a new world, and a source of endless inspiration.
Furthermore both those two jazz Giants were influenced by European classic music composers yet deeply expressed the African-American experience, they had a polyrhythmic approach and an enormous communicative power.
In Bud and Monk Claus had found all the elements he wanted and needed.
A year later, age sixteen, he had his first professional engagements playing both piano and trumpet, and two years later he formed his first piano trio.
After graduating high school he moved to Graz, Austria, to study at the the University of Music and Performing arts: already an excellent pianist, he soon started performing with stellar musicians like Andy Bey, Mark Murphy, Art Farmer and Ack van Rooyen.
In 1994 the Austrian National Radio recorded his first piano solo program and his first composition and arrangement for jazz orchestra, “Once in a Blue Moon”.
In the same year Claus’s last appearance as a trumpet player – with a double quartet made of two trumpets two saxophones two basses and two drums – was also recorded by the ORF.
Driven by the urge to be closer to the music he loved, in 1995 Claus moved to New York City, tirelessly attending live concerts, watching and listening great masters like Hank Jones, Frank Hewitt, Ahmad Jamal, Barry Harris. To him experiencing the music in the moment it was created was a primary necessity, he needed to absorb the physical presence of it, immerge himself in sounds and atmospheres.
He started sitting in at jam sessions, and the dexterity and intensity of his playing didn’t go unnoticed: he soon started getting live engagements in the main city’s jazz clubs performing with musicians like Manny Duran, Jimmy Lovelace, Valery Ponomarev, John Faddis, Vincent Gardner, and became the pianist of legendary drummer Ben Dixon sextet.
In 1996 he founded his own sextet which featured Mike Karn, Shawn McGloin and Brad Leali. The collaboration with Leali developed through the following decades resulting in many live concerts with diferent line ups and some beautiful recordings.
At the end of the 1990‘s Claus relocated in Munich -Germany, and began splitting his time between the USA and Europe. He performed extensively in both continents as as well as in Korea and Japan beside great musicians such as Jimmy Cobb, Ira Coleman, Keith Copeland, Charles Davis, Dennis Irvin, Herb Geller, Benny Golson, Alvin Queen, Ed Thigpen, Don Menza, Gene Jackson, Lewis Nash, Dusko Gojković, Charles Tolliver and Scott Hamilton.
In the last decade he’s been incessantly composing/arranging for his various groups and his orchestras, he has arranged the monographs “Mad aboout Tadd,”-the music of Tadd Dameron- for 8 piece orchestra, and two programs of Elmo Hope’s hidden treasures, which were recorded on the albums “Searching for Hope” and “Mo is On”.
He has also written arrangements and compositions for The Brad Leali Jazz Orchestra (N.Y., USA), Gospel Meets Jazz (Dallas, TX, USA, San Antonio, TX, USA), The Al Porcino Big Band (Munich, GER) and The Jesse Davis Orchestra.
Claus has been commissioned to write and arrange works for Jazz Orchestra and Choir for the Black History Month celebration (Denton, TX, USA) where he was also hired as a pianist and conductor. He has been commissioned to write arrangements of traditional Mongolian music for BayanMongol, the State Orchestra of Mongolia, and his most recent works has been commissioned by the RTS Big Band (Belgrade, RS).
His immense talent, knowledge and musical instinct are shining in every piece, the clearness and the natural authority he projects by leading the band is vibrant. Every single note he plays has strenght and depth: like all the great improvisers Raible has mastered the art of developing a solo, painting it with vivid colours, building a whole music universe that pulses with life, energy and truth.
Stefan Michalzik (Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany)
Michael Bakonyi (***** Concerto Magazine, Austria)
Werner Stiefele (**** Rondo Magazine, Germany)
Frank Zoellner (**** In Music Magazine, Germany)
Oliver Hochkeppel (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany)
Reinhard Koechl (Jazz Thing, Germany)
Yves Sportis (Jazz Hot, France)
Godehard Lutz (Jazz Podium, Germany)
Tom Fuchs (Piano News, Germany)
Blues GR- Posted by Michael Limnios Blues Network on March 4, 2020
Claus Raible shares ideas about his music and various topics from living in NY to his recent collaborations.
Jazz Hot, interview by Mathieu Perez, Paris, FR, 2020/21