Born in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and raised in France, bassist Clovis Nicolas decided to be a professional musician after pursuing studies in Philosophy at the University of Aix-en-Provence. He graduated from the Conservatory of Music of Marseilles in 1996 and then settled in Paris.
Clovis’ precise and tasteful bass playing gained him a solid reputation and he quickly became a first-call musician, performing with artists like Brad Mehldau, André Ceccarelli, Vincent Herring, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Michel Legrand, Stefano Di Battista, Belmondo Quintet. With the later, he recorded four albums, among them “Hymne au Soleil” which received three Grammy Awards in 2004. Clovis is also featured on two albums with pianist Baptiste Trotignon, with whom he toured extensively in all the major international festivals (Montreux, Marciac, Montreal, JVC Festival, Paris La Villette, Vienne, Vancouver).
Clovis moved to New York in 2002 after being awarded the Lavoisier Scholarship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since then he has performed in numerous venues (Blue Note, Kennedy Center, Smalls Jazz Club, Birdland, Jazz At Lincoln Center, Smoke Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club…) and recorded with some of today’s most prominent jazz musicians: Peter Bernstein, Walt Weiskopf, Grant Stewart, Greg Hutchinson, Harry Allen, Cedar Walton, James Williams, Jeremy Pelt, Willie Jones III, Ken Fowser, Carl Allen, Joe Magnarelli, Jane Monheit, Leon Parker, Jeb Patton, Marcus Gilmore, Sullivan Fortner, Peter and Will Anderson, Bill Stewart, Kevin Hays, Elena Pinderhughes, Freddie Redd, Frank Wess, Branford Marsalis and Dan Nimmer to name a few.
In 2009, Clovis joined the Jazz Program at the Juilliard School, graduating three years later with a Bachelor and a Master Degree in Music, having studied bass under Ron Carter and classical composition and counterpoint with composer Kendall Briggs. During that time, Clovis toured around the world for concerts and masterclasses with Juilliard Jazz (Brazil, Colombia, Japan…). He was also featured in a Ron Carter tribute concert in Alice Tully Hall, when he performed with prestigious guests Herbie Hancock, Mulgrew Miller, Lewis Nash, Benny Golson and Buster Williams. That evening, Clovis was introduced to the audience by actor Danny Glover as the inaugural recipient of the “Ron Carter Scholarship Award.”
After graduating, Clovis has been keeping a busy schedule both on stage and in the studio. He is in pianist and activist Samora Pinderhughes inter-disciplinary projects “The Transformations Suite”, “Grief” and “The Healing Project” which includes musicians such as Christian Scott, Mark Whitfield Jr., Savannah Harris, Dayna Stephens and Ambrose Akinmusire.
While maintaining a busy schedule as a sideman, Clovis leads his own band showcasing his original music and already released three albums for Sunnyside Records. His debut album “Nine Stories,” featuring a sextet of young lions, was selected as one of the “Best Albums Of The Year” in DownBeat Magazine. His second album “Freedom Suite Ensuite,” showcasing a quartet with drum legend Kenny Washington, earned a 5 star review in both Jazz Magazine and Jazz News.
His latest album “Autoportrait” features Clovis in a challenging solo bass setting. It received praise from WBGO’ Nate Chinen, JazzNews, Jazz Life (Japan), a full page feature from Francis Marmande in Le Monde (France’s number one newspaper), plus a CHOC award in Jazz Magazine.
Clovis Nicolas is also a voting member of the Recording Academy (aka “Grammy Awards”) and a composer affiliated to SACEM-ASCAP and published by Luteus Music USA. His appearance in the movie industry includes credentials as a bassist on the soundtrack of the documentary “Whose Streets?”