Jenny Klukken is a marimbist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who combines her classical percussion background with her passion for folk, jazz, and world music. In her unique approach, she bridges the gap between virtuosic marimba repertoire and improvised music making. Throughout her musical career, Jenny has engaged with various ensembles; including a Brazilian jazz trio, a hip-hop beat-boxing duo, a world/jazz-music basic percussion group, classical/folk crossover string ensembles, and more. She values music that speaks to a wide variety of audiences and pushes to get the marimba out of its box. She strives to take the instrument out of recital halls and into new ears; celebrating its versatility with approachable and refreshing music.
Jenny is native to central, rural Minnesota and grew up in home full of bluegrass, gospel, and Irish folk music. Today, as a composer, she draws much of her inspiration from these genres. She first moved to Minneapolis to study Percussion Performance at the University of Minnesota with Fernando Meza, Steve Yeager, and Phil Hey. While studying percussion, Klukken discovered her aptitude for performing and composing as a marimbists. Since completing her formal education, she has been performing almost exclusively as a marimbist. She became and endorsed Marimba One Artist in 2017.
In 2012, Klukken co-founded the percussion group MATRA, and innovative percussion-based ensemble that plays jazz, world, and folk musical styles. MATRA has provided Klukken with a platform for composing and playing in settings outside of the usual classical marimba world. In May of 2016, MATRA released its first full length album of all-original compositions by band members. MATRA later became a two-time winner of the Minnesota Public Radio “Class Notes Artist” grant.
Jenny continued to seek collaborations to stretch her abilities as a world music instrumentalist. In 2016 she started “Marimba Nova” (or “New Marimba” translated from Portuguese), and trio of marimba, guitar/voice, and percussion that mostly plays Brazilian music. The ensemble won a grant in 2017 through the McKnight Foundation and MacPhail Center for Music to enable a series of concerts throughout the Twin Cities area.
One of Klukken’s most notable accomplishments is from 2018, when she won the Metropolitan Region Arts Council’s “Next Step” grant to travel to Paris, France, to study marimba and composition with Eric Sammut. This period of study was focused on writing tunes for marimba that incorporate improvisation. In March of 2019, Jenny won another grant from the MacPhail Center for Music to travel to Costa Rica to learn more about traditional marimba music. Read about her experience here.
Jenny teaches marimba and percussion at various location in the Minneapolis area, including the MacPhail Center for Music, which is the one of the largest and highly-regarded community music schools in the country. She became MacPhail’s first female percussion instructor in 2013 and continues to offer lessons today.
Jenny continues to push forward as a unique and creative marimbist and composer, collaborating with a wide variety of musicians and ensembles. Her versatility is what sets her apart from the marimba world and also connects her to a wide variety of listeners.