Thursday, February 27, 2014

Featured Musician: Jan Laurenz



By Dana McClellan


It's taken me awhile to get started on this feature because I really wanted to get it right. I have been a huge fan and supporter of Jan Laurenz from afar, and I am honored to be able to present him to as many people as possible. He is a phenomenal musician, ranked at the top of my list of favorites. I'm hoping you will agree by the time you're finished reading this and listening to some of his tunes. There will be many videos posted here, so you may want to come back and/or create a playlist of your own via YouTube, which is what I have done. Every time he comes out with a new video, I add it to my playlist. A playlist I listen to over and over again.

I can't remember exactly how I stumbled across Jan Laurenz. I think I was searching for "Chapman Stick" videos on YouTube and as fate would have it, clicked on one of the Alto Stick videos he had posted at the time. I was astounded. The way I describe him when I'm sharing his videos is like this, "If it can be plucked or hammered, this guy can play it and play it well." I believe him to be a master musician and his music has affected me deeply through good times and bad. Imagine how excited I was when he agreed to help me with this feature by answering some questions and allowing me to grab some of his photos.

Some Background on Jan Laurenz

Born in Zurich, Switzerland in February, 1975, Laurenz became interested in playing guitar at age eight after watching his sister before him. His interest and natural ability soon propelled him to become better than his sister. He stated with a laugh in our email correspondence that his sister still "hates him for that." Those of us with siblings know how that goes :)

Besides languages, Jan was an average student, but with his mind always on the guitar. He developed an interest in Flamenco guitar by listening to his mother's Paco de Lucia vinyls and learned to play some of these compositions by ear. Right about that same time he studied under a guitar teacher who was sort of a hippy ("or just very cool guy") who "gave me some first feelings about improvisation, I never had any classical training" (Laurenz).

A Paco de Lucia inspired composition by Jan Laurenz


Jan stated that since his parents didn't really know what to do with him, they decided to help him study at a Swiss jazz school at age sixteen after accepting the fact that music was his main interest. His gratitude for this was evident when he wrote this in a correspondence to me,  "I am so thankful forever [to] them to support me this way." He graduated after four years there and went directly into teaching guitar and playing in local bands.

Later he moved to Barcelona, Spain to check out the scene there and ended up staying eleven years. Jan played gigs in that region and did very well with a band called "Calamento," which he terms a "flamenco fusion jazz rock band." Eventually he discovered the Chapman Stick and what he calls the "tapping world in general" and began posting videos on YouTube. 

The Calamento band split up and he decided to move back to Switzerland, where he lives in a small town called "Loco" with his girlfriend, a graphic designer. He now gives lessons and plays in a band called "Encuentro," a trio band with a decent fanbase playing mostly world music.

When I asked Jan where he felt his inspiration came from, this is what he said, "For me it just comes from [these] nice places around me, nature, walks in the wood, rivers ecc.. and also from some tasty beers which is my favorite drink :)"

A beer lover too?
I can relate--trust me :)

Some of the instruments I've seen him play in his videos include; various electric guitars and acoustic guitars, Chapman stick, Beartrax guitar, various ukuleles, mandolins, Domra (Russian), Warr guitar, Harpejji, and many more that I can't remember because some of the videos I started out watching are no longer up :(
At the time of this posting, Jan has an impressive 3574 subscribers to his YouTube channel.







Besides his music and passion for it, there is something else that stands out in some of his videos; it's the majestic background of the place in which he lives. WOW, is all I can say. It's easy to see how music as beautiful as his could manifest from such a place. His surroundings are absolutely breathtaking. As for his music and passion for it; watch his videos and see for yourself. There is no doubt in my mind you will become mesmerized by his melodies and his playing. There is something about watching a truly passionate player make music, we are blessed to take part in a type of love that emanates not only through the instrument, but to all who are listening. Jan Laurenz talent is a blissful experience :)

Now for some evidence...

Hard to choose favorites, but in regards to page-loading time, I'll try not to go too crazy :)

Favorite Jan Laurenz Videos 






















Sorry! I couldn't pick just a couple :)

Here are links to a couple of his pages/profiles:






Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog! 
If you like what you've read here, please comment, share and check out some of the rest of my posts and pages :)




4 comments:

  1. Thanks for introducing me to this awesome artist!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, he is outstanding isn't he?
    Thanks for the comment :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Please send him my contact info....newearthnationmusic@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for all this info about this amazing artist. You might be interested in my music as well. Check out bollywoodgharana dot com

    ReplyDelete