Eva Klesse

Eva Klesse Photo
Eva Klesse, Photo: Gerhard Richter


The city of Werl in North Rhine-Westphalia gave her birthplace and 1986 gave her the year to be born. Eleven long years were to pass until her training as a drummer, which she had to bridge by drumming and beating with all kinds of suitable instruments.

At the age of 11 Eva Klesse began her training as a drummer. She studied jazz percussion at the music academies in Leipzig, Weimar and Paris. With a double diploma (artistic/pedagogical), she finished her studies in Leipzig in 2013 with distinction. From 2014 to 2016, she received a DAAD scholarship to study at New York University, where she graduated with a Master of Music degree in May 2016.

Eva Klesse is active as a drummer as well as a composer in numerous projects. Currently she can be heard in the following groups. A selection:
Julia Hülsmann Octet, in the Trillmann Quartet, in the Jorinde Jelen Band, in the Sarah Chaksad Orchestra. She has also played with musicians such as: Ethan Iverson, Marilyn Mazur, Wolfgang Muthspiel and Nils Landgren.
With the Eva Klesse Quartet, she can currently be heard with Evgeny Ring, Philip Frischkorn & Stefan Schönegg.

Concert tours have taken her all over the world. A selection: USA, Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Mexico), Central America, Asia (Malaysia, China), Turkey, Egypt, numerous countries in Europe.

Eva Klesse was awarded the Leipzig Jazz Young Talent Award of the Marion-Ermer Foundation in 2013. In January 2017 she received the Westfalen Jazz Award, in September 2019 the JTI Trier Jazz Award. In spring 2018, Eva was appointed professor of jazz percussion at the Hanover University of Music.

Current Quartet
With her quartet, which has existed since January 2013, she has given numerous concerts, played at renowned festivals. A selection: Berlin Jazz Festival, Leipzig and Dortmund Jazz Days, Buenos Aires Jazz Festival, Münster Jazz Festival, 12 Points Festival. There are many radio recordings of their music: NDR, WDR, BR, SR, Deutschlandfunk.

Current Album

Eva Klesse Quartett - Creatures & States

Evgeny Ring – sax
Philip Frischkorn – piano
Stefan Schönegg – bass
Eva Klesse – drums

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It's easier to describe what the quartet doesn't play: neither classical nor contemporary swing, nor funk or jazzy rock in any variations, no classical ballads, no free jazz. What remains? Free cool jazz? That's not quite wrong, but it's not quite right either. Let's try an approach to the music without the conventional terminology.

The music shows itself as a wide "frame", which composition and arrangement only loosely put in. More accurately formulated: a wide musical space, which the drummer stakes out, which she offers to her colleagues, so that they can fill it with their own ideas, their own expression.

The solos of the sax, piano and bass colleagues are predominantly restrained in expression, more lyrically introverted than irrepressibly expressive. Longer musical statements are preferred: hinting at a theme or motif, developing it, making it work, amplifying it, withdrawing again, leaving the field to the others. The central personality in this game is the drummer Eva Klesse, who fulfills her function as boss in an integrating way. She sets the rhythm, but leaves the shaping to her colleagues.

This is exactly one of the great freedoms in jazz: the equality of instruments, of individual styles in the interpretation of themes.
This is especially noticeable in the bass, which is given a lot of room for individual playing, to emancipate itself from traditional roles. Stefan Schönegg is often heard as a soloist, then strongly shapes the sound of the ensemble. Pianist Philip Frischkorn can claim a similar role. His playing also breaks away from the "only" harmonic chord accompaniment. The saxophone's playing is also not as exposed as is common in many jazz quartets, where the rhythm section more or less perfectly offers the wind player a rhythmic-harmonic space in which the saxophonist can shine and sparkle.

Nevertheless, saxophonist Evgeny Ring uses his free space. His restrained, rather lyrical style prevails, to which he remains faithful, even if occasionally harmonic free excursions can be heard. He shows his diversity when he turns a theme into sonorous ballads with mature, warm-toned lines.
This is all thanks to the lady on the drums, who provides the essential basis for this with the wide-ranging "framework of the composition". For this she needs no weighty drumming, no energetic power play, certainly no wild flailing. With subtle playing and technique and with melodic drumming Eva Klesse can achieve the same results.

Text: Cosmo Scharmer


  • Xenon, 2014
  • Obenland, 2016
  • miniatures, 2018
  • creatures & states, 2020

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