Composer/guitarist Nathan Clevenger was born in Oakland, California and has been composing music informed by his voracious consumption of jazz, classical, and popular music from around the world, and an obsession with the written word, from an early age.
Since 2003, Nathan’s main musical outlet has been the cryptically-titled Nathan Clevenger Group. Recent gigs of note include appearances at the 2016 SF Friends of Chamber Music SFMusic Day, the 2015 Switchboard Music Festival, and a featured night as part of the Best Coast Composer Series at the SF Center for New Music (also featuring a selection of pieces for solo winds and the extended quartet piece “The Seamless Sea”). The Group has released two albums (2010’s The Evening Earth, on Evander Music, and Observatory, released in 2013) and hopes to record a 3rd release in 2017, tentatively titled Stateless. With the addition of a 2nd percussionist in 2015, the Group’s current music has added an additional layer of rhythmic counterpoint to the already dense melodic counterpoint. The band currently features Kasey Knudsen (alto sax), Cory Wright (tenor sax, clarinet), Rachel Condry (bass clarinet, clarinet), Sam Bevan (bass), Jason Levis (drums/percussion) and either Jon Arkin (drums) or Tim DeCillis (vibraphone).
Nathan is currently heavily involved in composing and recording music for film in collaboration with violinist/composer Kristina Dutton. Their work to date has focused heavily on science education and the interplay of art and science.
Nathan also leads the sci-fi-chamber-rock band Elective Infinities, featuring Sarah Zaharako, Eric Perney, Phillip Greenlief and Robert Lopez. There is also a new trio project gestating as well as a continually growing book of chamber music.
Nathan has been honored to work with assorted Bay Area jazz luminaries and groups, including Aaron Novik (Cutting Guard, “The Samuel Suite”, etc), Karl Evangelista (as part of the resurgent Host Family quartet), Phillip Greenlief, Jason Levis (Joseph’s Bones), Mitch Marcus, Lisa Mezzacappa, and Darren Johnston. He has also composed and performed original music for podcast and theater and done studio work on guitar, keyboards, bass, vibraphone and percussion. Clevenger’s vast personal fortune is no doubt explained by his BA in Modern Literature and, no, he is not related to Dale Clevenger or the guy who makes fancy bass guitars.
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“Drawing on orchestral jazz concepts pioneered by Duke Ellington, Sun Ra and Gil Evans, (Clevenger) revels in coaxing a kaleidoscopic array of voicings from the band, writing extended dreamscapes that unfold with their own quirky internal logic.” – Andrew Gilbert, KQED’s California Report (NPR)
“(Clevenger is a) fascinating composer. Long-form, dreamy, sectional without being rigid, and bluesy — albeit in a non-traditional way.” – Rachel Swan, East Bay Express
Clevenger’s writing takes a lot from the swing era, but it’s packed with odd time signatures, twisty compositions, and passages of improvisation that go well beyond the old concept of a solo. You don’t get the breakneck tempos of bebop, but neither is the music frozen in the ’40s; the writing is fresh, and the musicians are given free rein to turn things upside-down. Peppy, often pretty, and just a little weird. – Craig Matsumoto, Memory Select
Have you ever gotten a foreign film that maybe you weren’t sure about, but then it ripped your face off, and it was the coolest thing you ever saw, and it somehow synthesized straight-up literary frumpiness with avant-gardeness and unexpected twists and you were at the edge of your seat the whole time but then, afterwards, you couldn’t find anyone else who had ever heard of it? That’s pretty much what their music is like. – Rick Stinson, The Little Black Egg