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Tim refuses to be copy of Grappelli

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
edited November 2006 in Violin Posts: 6,017

Tim Kliphuis

Tim refuses to be copy of Grappelli

By Kenny Mathieson

10 November, 2006

VIOLINIST Tim Kliphuis is regarded by many as following in the
footsteps of the great Stephane Grappelli, but the Dutchman is
determined that he will do so in his own way.

Tim is well-versed in both Grappelli's music and the genre of Gypsy
jazz. He toured for five years with guitarist Fapy Lapertin in his Hot
Club-style band, including an appearance at the Nairn Jazz Festival,
and has led his own trio and quartet in many Grappelli-inspired outings.

year he will publish a tuition book on Grappelli's style, written in
response to requests from violinists for advice on how to master that

His own introduction to Grappelli came via a recording
when he was 19, and already studying classical music. Although he had
an interest in jazz, he had not heard the violinist before, nor had he
thought seriously about how to use that instrument in an
improvisational context.

"When I heard him play on that record it
shocked me but in a very nice way,” Tim recalled. "I had been doing
some improvising on other instruments, but not on the fiddle, and this
showed me a way to approach it that I could appreciate and love.

That was roughly 12 years ago, and I started my own little Hot Club
group then.

I joined Fapy Lapertin and toured with him for five years. That was
basically my tuition, if you like, being on the road with Fapy, but it
eventually reached a point where I had musical wishes that couldn't be
fulfilled in that format, with two or even three rhythm guitars in the
group. If you look at Grappelli in his later years, he started to play
with piano and drums, and to bring out the more romantic side of his
music. He couldn't do that in the group with Django Reinhardt because
of the rhythm guitars - even the ballads had a mid-tempo feel."

will lead a trio for most of his tour, with Nigel Clark on guitar and
Roy Percy on bass. This will be his first tour of the Highlands, and
the logistics and expense of bringing his London-based quartet north
proved prohibitive, but the trio offers its own rewards.

played a few times in Glasgow,” he explained. "I met Nigel when one of
my violin students in London suggested I get in touch with Cafe
Cossachok in Glasgow when I was looking to add a couple of Scottish
dates to a tour last year, and of course, Nigel is very involved there.
It turned out to be great, and he is a wonderful player, so that
clicked right away."

Tim has known Roy Percy for longer, and has
done some dates with the bass player and his colleagues guitarists John
Russell and Stephen Coutts in Swing 2006. In fact, their concert in
Gorthleck on this tour will feature that line-up.

"It was
actually the first show that was booked and I intended it to be the
trio, but Nigel already had a gig with the Scottish Guitar Quartet that
night, and couldn't make it,” he explained. "I managed to get John and
Stephen for a one-off. I understand it's a reasonably large hall, so
the quartet should work well.

"This is my first tour in the Highlands, and I need to check out
what the scene is up there. A Highland tour is a new logistical puzzle
for me, and to bring my regular quartet from London was just too much.
I would like to do it sometime, but for now it was a step too far."

concerts will feature a repertoire associated with Grappelli in several
different phases of his long career, not only the early Hot Club era.
They will include jazz standards he liked to play, some of his own
compositions, and a couple of more contemporary tunes as well.

will all be music that Grappelli recorded and performed at some point
in his career and they all suit the violin and this line-up,” Tim
confirmed. "I enjoyed playing Hot Club style with Fapy, but there is a
lot more to Grappelli than just the way he played in that era. Django
was the real genius in that band, and Grappelli was his sidekick, and
benefited from that. Later in his life he played with and learned from
all kinds of musicians, people like Yehudi Menuhin and Oscar Peterson
and Joe Pass. I think as a jazzman he was actually playing in his prime
in the late 1960s and early 1970s. People do say I am continuing his
legacy, and in a way that might be true. My style is close to his, and
I have the same background to a large extent, coming from classical

"If you give people a blindfold test when they hear my
music, they often think of Grappelli. But I am playing my own music -
it won't be Stephane Grappelli's notes. I think I may a be closest to
Grappelli of the violinists doing this kind of music at the moment, but
everyone has their own ideas about that. It's funny - I get people
telling me how much I play like him, and other people tell me they are
glad I don't play exactly like him!"

Tim is currently preparing a
follow-up to last year's well-received "The Grappelli Tribute" CD
project for his quartet, which features James Pearson on piano, Mitch
Dalton on guitar, and Len Skeat on piano.

"It will be a crossover
of classical melodies played in a jazz fashion,” he revealed. "I have
chosen themes that I can re-work in much the way that I might do with a
jazz standard. I think the time is right for that. My quartet was
invited to play at some classical festivals in the summer, and I think
this is moving onto the next phase for me."

Whatever the setting, though, Tim is determined not to be seen as
simply a Grappelli clone.

played a festival in Essex recently and found myself playing with Herb
Geller, the American saxophonist. At the end of it he told a friend of
mine that I was not only a good jazz violinist, but also a good jazz
musician, and for me that was the best compliment that I could get.
That is what I aim for - I want to be a good jazz musician, not just a
violinist doing one particular thing."

* The Grappelli Tribute
can be seen at the Swallow Crown Court Hotel, Inverness, on Monday; The
Stables, Cromarty, on Tuesday; The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool, on
Thursday; East Grange Loft, Forres, on Friday; and Stratherrick Hall,
Gorthleck, on Saturday.


  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,748
    "When I heard him play on that record it shocked me but in a very nice way,” Tim recalled.

    Also a great description of Tim's own playing-I don't think I've ever met another violinist who plays so hot while remaining so genial...
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