Born in 1977, Per Zanussi grew up in Stavanger with an Italian father and Norwegian mother. He started playing various instruments at five but picked up the bass at 13 playing in rock bands. After discovering jazz he quickly switched to double bass.
Zanussi has a Masters degree in music from the Conservatory in Trondheim and the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, concentrating on double bass and composition.
He has also completed an artistic research fellowship on PhD level at the University of Stavanger, through the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.
His compositional work has so far resulted in music for prize winning theatre and dance performances and short films as well as comissions for Bit 20, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and and Stavanger’s Kitchen Orchestra.
In 1996, while still a student in Trondheim he founded the electronic project Wibutee together with Håkon Kornstad and Wetle Holte.This outfit recorded 3 albums with Zanussi and toured most of the world in the following years.
In 2001 he founded his longest lasting project to date, Zanussi 5, playing Zanussi’s compositions in an acoustic format. This group has recorded 4 quintet albums and a fifth as a version of Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, a twelve piece group including Zanussi 5. In 2012 the album “Live” by Zanussi 13 was released : A 13 piece version of Zanussi 5 consisting of the core group, plus all the musicians that have played with the band over the years, among them Jonas Kullhammar and Stian Westerhus.
Zanussi also leads his new eleven piece group, Per Zanussi Ensemble. This is a vehicle for Zanussi’s compositions for free improvisors, and includes musicians such as Sofia Jernberg, Eivind Lønning and David Stackenäs. This group is also a part of an ongoing research project by Zanussi through the Norwegian Programme for Artistic Research and the University of Stavanger.
Zanussi is a member of Trespass Trio (with Martin Kuchen and Raymond Strid) and several other projects and has recorded or played on occasion with John Butcher, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Hamid Drake, Lotte Anker, Paal Nilssen-Love, Bobby Bradford, Eivind Lønning, Frode Gjerstad, Sabir Mateen, Franklin Kiermyer, Stephen O’Malley, Axel Dörner, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Sten Sandell, Mats Gustafsson, Morten J. Olsen, Seijiro Muriyama, Magda Mayas, Sten Åke Holmlander, Louis Moholo, Kjetil Møster, Gabriel Ferrandini, David Stackenäs, Kjell Nordeson, Sofia Jernberg, Kevin Norton, Ivar Grydeland, Ernesto Rodrigues, Tetuzi Akiyama, Christian Wallumrød, Ståle L. Solberg and others.
“Zanussi is a fleet and inventive bassist. He gets around on his instrument like a horn player, without sacrificing quality of sound, which can’t be said of every bassist I’ve heard recently.”Chris Kelsey, Jazztimes