Web site: http://www.timkliphuis.nl
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Dutch Jazz Violinist Tim Kliphuis was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on 30 September, 1974. He started violin lessons at the age of 7 with the notable Suzuki teacher Johannes Lievaart, initially learning to play the instrument by ear and not sheet music.
During his secondary school years he kept up his violin practice and listened to other music styles including Balkan folk, Irish traditional, Bluegrass and even Rock and Roll. Most of his improvising was done on the guitar and bass guitar, not on the violin, although he admired jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty from afar.
Tim initially went on to study Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. A watershed year was 1993, when he joined the Amsterdam student orchestral group called Ricciotti ensemble, and heard his first CD of Stéphane Grappelli. Here, suddenly, was the way to improvise on a violin using classical technique, and the Ricciotti ensemble, having not only Beethoven and Mozart on the repertoire but also Nick La Rocca and Duke Ellington, gave him the chance to try out his solos in a live setting.
The next year Tim joined his first Hot Club band in the style of Django Reinhardt and Grappelli, learning the repertoire in weekly rehearsals. He auditioned for Classical Violin at the Conservatoire of Amsterdam, motivated by this new musical goal and his lack of technical skills. He was admitted and for a long time was officially a classical violinist with secret jazz fiddling on the side, while finishing his MA degree in Linguistics.
At the end of 1995 Tim attended one of Stéphane Grappelli’s last concerts in Germany, in Munich. He spoke to and played for him backstage and got encouraging words from him. Two years later, Grappelli died at the age of 89 years.
In 1998, after working for a while with Dutch Hot Club group Polytour, a mix of Hot Club and Chanson, Tim got the call from gypsy guitarist Fapy Lafertin, one of the doyens of the Gypsy Jazz revival. Their first cd together, Star Eyes, was released in 2000, which led to a resurrection of Fapy’s career and a kick start of Tim’s. They began touring in Europe and the UK, although they were somewhat restricted by Fapy’s refusal to get onboard an aeroplane. In 2001, the cd Fleur d’Ennui was released which combined Gypsy Jazz, Fado and Choro music. This got them concerts in the Dutch concert halls. In the same year, the Conservatoire offered Tim jazz tuition with the Conservatoire’s top saxophone teacher, Ferdinand Povel, leading light of the Dutch bepop scene.
In 2002, Tim finished his Masters degree in Violin, playing a final concert which was half classical, half jazz, with a Committee including Povel and Frans Poptie, jazz violin legend from the 50s and 60s. Times had changed!
2003 saw the release of the last cd of Fapy and Tim together, Fine and Dandy. All their cds got glowing reviews internationally and cemented Tim’s reputation as one of the world’s top Grappelli style fiddlers. A tour of the UK introduced him to Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club and the Edinburgh and Brecon Jazz Festivals.
Due to health problems, the next Lafertin tour was taken over by French gypsy Angelo Debarre with whom Tim also worked in Germany and the USA, leading to the dvd Live at Djangofest Northwest. It was time to move on and Tim started working with other gypsy players including Boulou Ferré, Samson Schmitt and Stochelo Rosenberg.
In 2005, Tim released his first solo recording The Grappelli Tribute with the help of former Grappelli bassist, the Englishman Len Skeat. This and the ensuing reviews got things going in the UK jazz scene where he started touring a few times a year under his own name, at festivals, in arts centres and clubs.
2006 saw Tim playing a concert with Martin Taylor, Grappelli’s former guitarist. He did his first year at the Birmingham Jazz Festival and toured in the USA, where he was a workshop teacher at Djangofests nationwide but also met up with the late Les Paul in New York. Many violinists came for advice on how to start out in jazz and this led to preparations of a book on Gypsy Jazz Violin.
Out of the blue, both the Richard Strauss Festival (Germany) and Musica Mundi (Belgium) invited Tim, Len Skeat and friends to come and play, with the request to jazz up some classical compositions by Strauss and others. Both concerts were a popular success, and got great reviews.
August saw Tim during a few weeks at a crossover festival in Linschoten, Holland, where he played classical chamber music and jazz in one night.
In the Autumn of this year, he did his first tour of the Highlands with Scotsmen Nigel Clark (guitar) and Roy Percy (bass), leading to a closer working relationship with the two and a great love of the Highland hills and single malt whiskies.
Also, he sealed a deal with Mel Bay Publications to bring out his jazz violin book, which was by then in its final stages.
In January of 2007, Tim decided to make another cd with Skeat inspired by the success of their classical/jazz crossover. The title: Swingin’ through the Classics, featuring jazzed up works by Mozart, Fauré, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and others. This cd got a glowing review in The Strad.
Then, Tim’s Scottish Trio decided to make their first record together, Live in Glasgow, in the Russian Cultural Cafe Cossachok, where they first met in 2005. The whole cd was taken from one live concert in April and features swing versions of some Scottish traditionals. ‘Loch Lomond’ and ‘Skye Boat Song’ are still audience favourites with the Trio.
Another Stateside Summer tour followed, performing and workshopping, plus Canadian concerts in Montreal and at the Ottawa Jazz Festival.
An invitation from Derry Fiddlefest, Ireland, brought Tim and his Trio face to face with top Irish fiddler Frankie Gavin. Sparks flew in an impromptu get-together which led to a friendship and to preparations of a mutual project where Irish trad meets jazz.
Early December, Tim’s group with Skeat were invited to the German Winterzauber Festival, where they played ‘Swingin’ through the Classics’.
That month, he also got the call from Stochelo Rosenberg for the Rosenberg Trio’s new cd Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli. The two worked on arrangements and recorded, and in the process became friends.
In 2008, Tim’s Trio was invited to play the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, Ireland, a great gathering of fiddlers/violinists, where they were a big success. They also played their first date together with pianist David Newton, who was already working with guitarist Nigel Clark in a different band.
That Summer, Tim was invited to Montreal to record a jazz violin dvd with HyperHip Media, Canada, whom he had got to know during one of the Django festivals in the States. In two days, 6 hours worth of lessons were recorded, one half featuring 3 violin students from Classical, Folk and Jazz backgrounds.
The Rosenberg Trio and Tim were booked to perform their new cd, which has been released earlier that year, at the big Samois-sur-Seine and Jazz en Touraine festivals, and later in a sold-out Grand Hall of the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
A return to Linschoten meant another crossover mix of chamber music and jazz, plus championing a solo work for violin and tape (1958) by Dutch composer Henk Badings. This was later aired on national television.
In September, Tim went on a first long tour of Wales, where he played with guitarist Gary Phillips. The programme was a mix of Grappelli favourites, Classical and Welsh traditional tunes.
November saw the release of Tim’s Mel Bay book, entitled “Stéphane Grappelli Gypsy Jazz Violin”. Student response was instant and reviews were without exception very good. It is, to date, the only book about Grappelli’s music which gives an inside look into the style and coaches players who are starting out, all the way from Beginner’s to Advanced level. Also, Tim was invited to the Conservatoires of Amsterdam and Tilburg to give improv workshops at the Strings departments.
In 2009, Richard Galliano, whom he had met in Touraine as a guest of the Rosenberg Trio, invited Tim to come over to Beirut, Lebanon with him. His repertoire, a mix of Tango, Musette, Classical and Jazz was inspirational and led to Tim’s departure from his existing mix of ‘only’ Jazz, Folk and Classical.
Shortly after, HyperHip released the Hot Jazz Violin series, consisting of two 3-hour dvds which received glowing reviews. With Tim’s workshop experiences as a starting point, they take the student on an in-depth journey into melodic, harmonic and stylistic techniques on the fiddle.
In April, Tim was invited to play and teach at the Fiddles on Fire Festival at The Sage Concert Hall in Gateshead, England. Although he was the only jazz violinist in a Traditional and Folk festival, his workshops were sold out and the concert was a great success.
May saw Tim teaming up in a Duo with pianist David Newton. The pairing had been suggested by a fan and worked out so well that Tim invited David for his new cd, and they started working on a concert programme for Classical audiences together.
In June, the Trio plus David Newton recorded, the lineup augmented with Maltese percussionist Sandro Ciancio on most tracks. The result was a hybrid of Folk, Latin, Gypsy, Tango, Jazz and Classical elements, a stylistically unique product while remaining completely acoustic. In between things, Tim had a musical get-together with top Scottish fiddler Charlie McKerron with a view to working on a mutual project.
August and September saw the first few concerts in the Netherlands featuring a mix of classical chamber music and jazz, not just jazzed up classics. One of these was in Tim’s home town of Hilversum, which sold out. These concerts are a pointer towards future collaborations with classical artists.
Counterpoint Swing (2008, Lowland Records)
Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli (2008, with the Rosenberg Trio, FM Jazz)
Swingin’ through the Classics (2007, Robinwood Productions)
Live in Glasgow (2007, Lowland Records)
The Grappelli Tribute (2005, Robinwood Productions)
Live at Djangofest Northwest (2005, with Angelo Debarre, dvd, Gypsy Jazz Records)
Fine & Dandy (2003, with Fapy Lafertin, Iris Music)
Fleur d’Ennui (2001, with Fapy Lafertin, Timeless Records)
Star Eyes (2000, with Fapy Lafertin, String Jazz)
Django Chanté (1999, with Polytour, Polytour Records)
Stéphane Grappelli Gypsy Jazz Violin (2008, book + cd, Mel Bay Publications)
Hot Jazz Violin Vol. I: Learning the Sound (2009, dvd, HyperHip Media)
Hot Jazz Violin Vol. II: Grappelli and Beyond (2009, dvd, HyperHip Media)