Max Clouth Clan - Jazz/Fusion Concert 4th March @ Sailing Annexe





      The hospitable and picturesque environs of the Sailing Annexe - Secunderabad Club, was opened to the music of the Max Clouth Clan on the evening of the 4th of March 2017, and the Club was chock-a-block with fortunate listeners who had come to hear this terrifically talented German guitar trio.

    The Max Clouth Clan was, Max Clouth on Guitar, Jonathan Sell, Bass, and Martin Standke, drums.

     The Clan’s playing was stellar and the sound superb. Not just the band’s sound, but also of the perfectly balanced sound system. Best of all was the Clan’s super-empathy that could be delivered only by players who are familiar with each other and play and jell together. Jonathan Sell on Bass and Martin Standke on drums provided a solid, inventive, melodic bass backbone and a shifting, swinging pulse that drove all the music forward like a swinging, swaying yet steady locomotive.

     The Max Clouth Clan, on first hearing, appeared to be mixing styles and crossing boundaries, the guitar had the gritty bite and bluesy yet smooth overdriven tone of a rock guitar, but through it all there was an unmistakable jazz sensibility that pervaded the music.

     Max Clouth played his own compositions, one of them, he had announced, was called ‘Noon’ that he had composed while waiting for a student in a German classroom. But all the compositions they played were tangy and tasty, and had a controlled and deliberate rough edge to them within the composer’s conception of his music which alternated between jam band music, rock and sizzling, swinging jazz. And though they only played their own original compositions, I did hear references to a novel rendition of the classic ‘Summertime’.

     It is the second half of the concert that was remarkable surprise. The Clan was joined by a genre-busting phenomenon named Varijashri Venugopal, a young yet well recognized Carnatic vocalist from Bengaluru with a love of Jazz.

     Varijashri Venugopal and the Clan explored Carnatic music, and though it was obvious that she was a true Carnatic classical vocalist, it became apparent that Max Clouth had also studied Indian classical music and was familiar with its syntax.

     Varijashri’s vocalisation in the arrangement of “Krishna Nee Begane Baro composed by Saint Purandara Dasa in Kannada in Raag Yaman and on another one (a Carnatic composition), Amba Para Devate, in Raaga Rudrapriya, composed by Sri Krishnaswami Ayya, was consummate, and her voice was light and airy, her vocal inflections precise, delicate and rapid as the wing beat of a hovering hummingbird and her voice as melodious as a Malabar Whistling Thrush.

     The compositions were melodious and syncopated and Max Clouth changed the  tone of his guitar for this session to a more sweet and mellow tone to match the singers voice, The Clan, especially Max Clouth followed the singer with accuracy and understanding, and was able to take the singers fluid improvisation and the uncluttered linear conception forward smoothly.

     And though some jazz purists or Carnatic classical music aficionados may not have been pleased with this fusion, to this listener it was matchless. This kind of music, if listened to with attentiveness, I think, would unlock, engage, and provoke listeners’ imaginations and help open their minds. 

     The Secunderabad Club, Goethe Zentrum and the Hyderabad Western Music Foundation deserve kudos for bringing us lucky listeners this luminous experience.

Write-up by Pratap Antony

Concert Video - Max Clouth Clan


together with Varijashree

Manmohan Raj

Max Clouth Clan

In 2011, Max Clouth released his first solo CD. Titled simply “Guitar”, it presents his distinctive approach to Spanish, Indian, and Baroque music, all arranged for and performed on solo acoustic guitar. Featuring music recorded in Mumbai, which had attracted the guitarist from Frankfurt who, having been fascinated by John McLaughlin’s bands Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, sought to plunge deeper into the world of Ragas and Talas of Indian classical music. The Times of India praised the 23-minute long album as “great fusion”; The composer’s take: “Western music with an Indian vibe”, which he now tries to take to higher spheres through his electric Max Clouth Clan.

“Return Flight” is the title of that quartet’s first album, a title that has multiple meanings for Clouth – literally flying, escape and all it implies, back and forth. The central theme: Being in motion.

Precisely that describes “Return Flight”, just like “Guitar” before it – though in this band context with bassist Timothy Roth (substituted by Jonathan Sell for the tour) and drummer Martin Standke, along with exceptional studio guests like T.L. Mazumdar (keyboards and vocals), Shruti Ramani (vocals on “Noon Tune”), Michael Wahab (tabla), percussionist Ziya Tabassian (Riq), Jason Schneider (on trumpet and flugelhorn – ethereal-Nordic like Nils Petter Molvær), and Christopher Herrmann. His cello can be heard in the finale of the album, “Sanjus Waltz”, dedicated to Clouths young daughter, whose laughter opens the lullaby – a Baroque-seeming waltz, swinging like Gypsy jazz and with Clouth scatting along to his guitar lines. The groovy “Disco Stu” (“Not to be taken too seriously”) is a bit of an indulgence on Clouth’s part on a listen-only album like “Return Flight”. “Kusadasi Kelim” is no less of a surprise, named in fact after a carpet and animimated by Turkish art music, with which Clouth became familiar through the Baglama virtuoso Deniz Köseoglu.

“Return Flight”: Soulful music whose spirit will touch listeners from all over the world

Max Clouth - Guitar:

Max Clouth, born in Frankfurt/ Main in 1985, studied Jazz guitar at the Musikhochschule Mainz and "Worldmusic" at the C.M. von Weber Musikhochschule Dresden. Subsequently, he learnt  with Pt Nayan Ghosh at Sangit Mahabharati Music School Mumbai and Guitar Prasanna at Swarnabhoomi Music Academy.
In 2015 he was nominated for the Burghausen Jazz Prize and released his highly acclaimed album "Return Flight" on german major label L + R/Bellaphon.

Jonathan Sell - Bass:

Jonathan Sell plays in a wide range of styles, from western classical music to progressive rock, from jazz to oriental maqam. In Febuary 2015 he finished his studies of jazz double bass with Prof. Thomas Stabenow in Mannheim. His final concert showed a combination of arabic oud and ney music with jazz versions of King Crimson songs. A central characteristic of his play is the interpretation of music as the universal language that overcomes cultural, national and stylistic borders. He is a member of the Orientalische  Musikakademie Mannheim, where he commits himself to cultural exchange through music

Martin Standke  – Drums

Martin began his musical education with playing the piano at the age of eight and discovered his interest for the drums some years later. He studied teacher of music at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt and at the same time at the Cologne University of Music, majoring in jazz drums .
Three times he was a member of different bands which achieved the "Scholarship Jazz“ of the City of Frankfurt and received with his band „Contrast Trio“ the Hessian Jazz Award 2016.
He played with Michael Sagmeister, Dominique Di Piazza, Michael Wollny amongst others, and was part of Stephan Schmolck’s band at the German Jazz Festival. He can also be heard on several recordings with the HR Jazz Ensemble.
Martin lives in Frankfurt and works frequently for the Theatre Frankfurt.

EPK Return Flight:

Studio Session:


Opening Act:

Manmohan Raj, Singer, Song Writer and Rhythm Guitarist

hail from the city of Pearls, Hyderabad.

Manmohan has started the career basically as Lead vocalist, Rhythm Guitarist and the front

man of the few groups like Fusion, Rock, Hard Rock and Progressive Metal bands in the city.

Gradually started performing solo, working out with the music of dissimilar genres and sub

types like Rock, Rock & Roll, Classic Rock and Indian Fusion Music. Ambiguity still persists to

define the Music and Genre followed. Still Collaborates with the bands around.