Eva Klesse Quartet

Eva Klesse Quartet

Eva Klesse (by Sally Lazic) sw
EVGENY RING saxophone

“Klesse has found undoubtedly the perfect partners for her philosophy.”


Exactly two years ago, the Eva Klesse Quartet released their second album Obenland, establishing its status on the European jazz scene. Excellent reviews followed, as well as invitations to festivals and international concert tours, which took the band to Asia and Central and South America. JazzThing described Obenland as “wild, romantic, elegiac and tantalising” while the Weser Kurier picked up on the band’s “impressively precise interaction”. The FAZ wrote: “The pieces develop fluently, and typical boundaries between composition and improvisation blur imperceptibly. The Eva Klesse Quartet’s jazz is rich in interesting melodies and harmonies, attracting different kinds of listeners, yet is far removed from the mainstream.”

And now begins the third chapter in this artistic success story: miniature – ten songs for chamber jazz quartet. The title of the new album indicates the band’s aesthetic direction this time. While Obenland captivated the listener with its extended tracks and featured sweeping dynamics and wide arcs, the new album is more intimate and reduced. What has not changed, however, is the impelling interaction of different approaches to playing and the members’ different characters, which add significantly to the quartet’s appeal. The fellow performers attentively listen and give space to each other while showing a keen intuition for storytelling without words.

“The music on the album is more condensed and our improvisations are more interleaved with the compositions,” pianist Philip Frischkorn says. Eva Klesse continues: “This time our idea was to paint more concrete pictures. It was about being able to allow minimalism and peace.” The listener could and should read this as a commentary on social norms that give those with the loudest voice and whose rage goes unchecked the upper hand. Nevertheless, the band is primarily interested in an artistic statement. Ultimately, jazz musicians do not always find it easy to allow minimalism. Philip Frischkorn, who has always leaned towards classicism and classical modernism, has set new parameters which he himself moves within. “This autumn I’ve been experimenting with deciding on the tonal material first before I start composing. Within strict limits, I wanted to look for opportunities of improvisational freedom. As an improviser you don’t break the boundaries: you gently convert them.” It is no wonder that Frischkorn’s individual scales sound livelier and much less strict than historical concepts of reduction, such as serial or twelve-tone music.

The composers’ personal approaches – Evgeny Ring and Eva Klesse have also written pieces besides Frischkorn – are quite different, which greatly adds to the album’s subtle tension. Some pieces also develop surprising dynamics. As in the first section of Frischkorn’s almost impressionist “M.’s Dreaming”, for example, whose subdued mood changes abruptly after a long time. Ring’s “ORM” fuses fast piano arpeggios, rhythmic eddies and distinctive saxophone phrasing to culminate in an impressive force, bringing to life the underlying philosophical concept of pervasive creative energy. 

Klesse’s pieces, which often figure as songs without words, reflect concrete life situations. “Back and forth”, which oscillates between hectic, surging urgency and sections of waiting, was written some time ago when Klesse commuted between New York and Germany. “It also fits into the last one and a half years of our band’s history, when we travelled incredibly far on our tours, and went halfway around the world,” says the drummer. “It’s about the crazy aspects of travelling – like spending more than 20 hours at a time on aeroplanes and at airports in 30-degree temperatures and all kinds of time differences.” The thoughtful, almost requiem-like “And This Will Be” picks up on something Leonard Bernstein said after J.F. Kennedy’s assassination: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before”. The quartet would like to follow this idea without holding it up boldly as a banner. “We are politically-minded people, but the record is not a manifesto.”

In spring 2018 Eva Klesse was appointed professor of jazz percussion at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media; and in 2017, she was awarded the Westphalian Jazz Prize. The jury wrote:  “Klesse’s dynamic style of playing is impressive; she is skilled in producing the finest nuances and softest sounds. […] She is creative artist with a recognizable signature and at the same time, a congenial partner.”

The characteristic sound of the Eva Klesse Quartet on miniatures is more detailed and transparent than ever. Many subtleties of chamber music, clear or cleverly forking compositions and balanced improvisations make 50 minutes pass quickly. Conceptual ideas and the resulting focus show the ensemble’s convincing artistic development. The band’s depth of expression produces a musical narrative that can confidently exist in an international environment. Such music will delight not only long-time followers of jazz, but also recruit new aficionados in the future.



Only three years ago, these four young personalities joined up, now they appear as one organism. Possibly because of their very different musical backgrounds.“, „Thanks to intriguing melodies and harmonies Eva Klesse quartet’s jazz is appealing for different kinds of audiences and still far away from being mainstream. That takes quite a bit, doesn’t it?

Norbert Krampf, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10/2016

Drummer Klesse, who is from the youngest generation, has a different temperament. She is a humble and passionate musician underpinned by a good portion of challenging humor. It allows her to easily move to and fro between interior and exterior, between leading and following, between empathy and directing. It allows her to come up with extraordinary flowing drum work and distinctive dynamics of a kind -both highly captivating and enjoyable. The four musicians, Klesse, saxophonist Evgeny Ring, pianist Philip Frischkorn and bassist Robert Lucaciu are on a par with each other in the group. Mutual understanding, give and take and engagement in terms of surrendering to the music and serve the music are highly developed in the group. There’s a special potential to spark the best in every musician resulting in fantastic timing and dosing. (Good) music lives by creative ways of unifying, reconciling opposites. Klesse (…) has her very own, strong way into that in her/the group’s music (making). Especially subtleness and compactness are unified in a highly consistent and distinctive way. Klesse and her group also have a high degree of emergence in their music (making), another indispensable ingredient of good music. It is also called momentum and it means that the listener gets the idea that not a piece of music is played bit by bit but that the music itself is taking its route in the performance, emerge from one moment to another on its own, unfolds as if it’s the first time it is happening.

Henning Bolte, allaboutjazz.com 04/2017

Drummer Eva Klesse and her group from Leipzig shone brightly through mysterious narratives alternating whispering airy passages with dense climaxes and suspended sudden halts. In its highly inventive playing Klesse’s group (…) united subtleness and compactness in a highly consistent and distinctive way.

Henning Bolte, londonjazznews.com 2016

A rising star on the German jazz scene, drummer Eva Klesse is making international waves with her acoustic quartet of young and vibrant players.


From the first to the last note a perfectly balanced product of the quartet’s road to musical maturity that amazes and creates an appetite for more.“, „bewitching music, truly beautiful and without even the slightest hint of kitsch, a remarkable debut“.

XENON review, Ulrich Steinmetzger

Already lauded as an important young drummer on the German scene, Eva Klesse revealed her exceptional writing skills in a series of six compelling pieces with her quartet. Like changing weather patterns, she can follow a delicate bass/piano duet with a steaming „out“ alto sax solo or a powerful drum solo, but never undermining the overall narrative.


The quartet’s piece was full of subtle turns falling in a Latin groove all of a sudden included. It was no rollercoaster of emotions, but bold and coherent leaps in a flowing line. ‘Escape and Resurface’ would be another apt indication for the group’s game. The quartet’s music was a great combination of strong tunes in a highly dynamic game with subtle turns that made the music such a big pleasure.

Henning Bolte,  allaboutjazz.com 01/2017

the fact that the medicine student switched to music is a stroke of luck for the German jazz


The concept succeeded, above all because of the excellent band that has in its ranks Eva Klesse, probably one of the best soloists of these days.

Mitteldeutsche Zeitung