Evan Arntzen

“Evan has a distinctive style on both his chosen instruments, on which he offers appealing sounds, fluent command, and that often elusive thing called swing. His singing is gratifyingly unaffected and unpretentious, adding a personal and natural ‘extra’.”

Dan Morgenstern, NEA Jazz Master

“Artists like Evan Arntzen represent a new generation of musicians exploring the [clarinet’s] possibilities… Evan presents an effortlessly fluid and lyrical approach in his playing that could convince even the most ardent hard-bop enthusiast to reappraise the sounds of Jimmie Noone or Buster Bailey.”

Seton Hawkins, Jazz Scholar

Evan Arntzen was born and raised in East Vancouver, Canada, about as far away from New Orleans as one can be, and yet it is the music of the Crescent City that sparked Evan’s musical journey. A third generation musician, Evan began learning New-Orleans-style clarinet from his grandfather, Lloyd Arntzen, at the age of seven. The first melodies he learned to play were blues, all from great Black American composers, such as Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton. 

Evan discovered the tenor saxophone at thirteen and rapidly expanded his musical vocabulary, eventually graduating from the jazz program at Capilano University in Vancouver with a degree in saxophone performance.

Since moving to NYC in 2014, Evan has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Cafe Bohemia, Birdland, Town Hall, Mezzrow, Smalls, Symphony Space, as well as festivals and venues around the world. He holds the lead saxophone chair in Grammy® Winning Vince-Giordano’s Nighthawks, and performs regularly with Catherine Russell, Jon-Erik Kellso and The EarRegulars. Evan is featured on notable recordings by Bria Skonberg (Sony Masterworks), Kat Edmonson, Loudon Wainwright III, and the award-winning soundtracks for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Bessie. He has also released three critically-acclaimed albums as a leader: Evan Arntzen meets La Section Rythmique (2018), Jazz Crush (2019), and 2021’s Countermelody (Dot Time Records), which was produced by Scout Opatut (4/4 Creative).

Evan has been fortunate to perform and record with a long list of US, Canadian and International Artists, including: Scott Robinson, Wycliffe Gordon, Jason Marsalis, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person, Evan Christopher, Ingrid Jensen, the late Eddy Davis, Harry Allen, Corcoran Holt, Jerome Jennings, Terry Waldo, Warren Vaché, the late Ross Taggart, PJ Perry, Terry Clarke, Brad Turner, Dave Robbins, his parents (Tom and Georgina Arntzen), and Elmo. He performed in a very shiny gold lamé blazer at the 2010 Paralympic Opening Ceremonies for a live audience of 50,000 people and broadcast across the globe. He wore nothing remarkable when he performed in Michael Bublé’s 2012 and 2013 Christmas Specials. In 2017, Evan musically directed Jazz at Lincoln Center’s  “Jazz for Young People” program on Louis Armstrong in the Rose Theater. 

In addition to performing and recording, Evan is a passionate educator, and teaches Jazz and Woodwinds at Harlem School of the Arts.