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. In 2017 he also completed his PhD level research project ”Natural Patterns – Music Making with an Ensemble of Improvisers”, through the Norwegian Programme for Artistic Research and the University of Stavanger.
His compositional work has so far resulted in music for prize winning theatre and dance performances and short films as well as commissions 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.
Currently, the most active group playing Zanussi’s jazz compositions is Zanussi 3, featuring Kristoffer Alberts on sax and Per Oddvar Johansen on drums.
Zanussi also leads his large group, Per Zanussi Ensemble. This is a vehicle for compositions for free improvisors, and includes musicians such as Sofia Jernberg, Eivind Lønning, Raymond Strid and David Stackenäs. This group was also a part of Zanussi’s artistic research project at the University of Stavanger : “Natural Patterns – Composing with an Ensemble of Improvisers”. www.naturalpatterns.no
Zanussi is a member of Trespass Trio (with Martin Kuchen and Raymond Strid), Eyolf Dales Wolf Valley, Wunderkammer, and several other projects as a sideman.
He has recorded or played on occasion with John Butcher, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Hamid Drake, Lotte Anker, Paal Nilssen-Love, Bobby Bradford, Eivind Lønning, Tim Hodkinson, Frode Gjerstad, Sabir Mateen, Franklin Kiermyer, Nils Henrik Asheim, 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, Tony Buck, Gabriel Ferrandini, David Stackenäs, Kjell Nordeson, Sofia Jernberg, Kevin Norton, Ivar Grydeland, Ernesto Rodrigues, Tetuzi Akiyama, Christian Wallumrød, Ståle L. Solberg and many 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