New York-based composer and trombonist Andy Clausen joined former tongue-in-cheek cross-town rival Riley Mulherkar (now classmates at Juilliard) to present the complete Birth of the Cool suite with a Seattle nonet, including French hornist Tom Varner and alto saxophonist Mark Taylor last week at the Chapel Performance Space presented by Earshot Jazz.

To bring a faithful rendition of the classic 1949-1950 recordings, Clausen and trumpeter Mulherkar have compiled parts from various sources and transcribed and edited scores for the complete Birth of the Cool suite. Clausen “I find this music compelling enough to merit serious investigation … I have personally dedicated dozens of hours to copying out every part from the scores and preparing the music to be as accurate as possible. This music needs to be heard.”

If you haven’t heard Birth of the Cool, get it and listen immediately: the legendary nonet with Miles out front plays with the timbre and density of combinations of trombone, tuba, French horn, alto and baritone saxes and rhythm section – lasting as some of the most elegant approaches for groups of its kind. For Clausen, a personal investigation of this suite is not anachronism but a natural extension of his work for his Wishbone Ensemble, an acoustic group featuring his original music for trombone, clarinet, piano, accordion and drums.

Clausen graduated from Roosevelt High School and was the recipient of the 2009 Gerald Wilson Award for Jazz Composition from the Monterey Jazz Festival. An active composer, arranger and bandleader since the age of 14, Clausen has released two albums of original music to critical acclaim. The New York Times has described his work as “sleek, dynamic large-group jazz, a whirl of dark-hued harmony and billowing rhythm.”

Riley Mulherkar, a graduate of Garfield High School, was the recipient of the 2010 Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist award from the Essentially Ellington Competition; the New Yorker calls him a “brilliant teen-aged trumpeter”; and Wynton Marsalis named Mulherkar among a high-profile list of the Next Generation of Jazz Greats in a recent interview in JET magazine.

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