The second CD by the Kuhntett, a group led by bassist Alex Kuhn (who wrote all but one of the nine originals), also features tenor-saxophonist Alexander Kuhn, pianist-keyboardist Christoph Heckeler and drummer Marcel Gustke. Their music is virtually unclassifiable as anything but high-quality modern jazz.
Three of the selections have the Strings Deluxe (Jansen Folkers and Adam Zolynski on violins, Axel Ruhland on viola and cellist Martin Bentz) added to the group. The strings make their strongest impression on “Billy The Child,” which starts out with the Strings Deluxe being heard independently of Kuhntett before the two ensembles join forces. Rudiger Eisenhauer plays lap steel guitar on three other selections, one of which also has guitarist Fabiano Pereira. Eisenhauer’s presence adds a lot of color to those numbers along with the influence of soul jazz and pop/jazz of the 1970s.
While listening to Checkpoint Jazz, there are times when the music is reminiscent of Michael Brecker (an influence on Alexander Kuhn), Pat Metheny and the Crusaders. The music is accessible yet mostly unpredictable, the Kuhntett has an original group sound that places it squarely in the modern mainstream of jazz, and the variety in the originals and the solos hold on to one’s interest throughout.
Checkpoint Jazz is a CD well worth checking out.