Joachim Kühn Trio

Voodoo Sense

Price: € 22.95
Format: CD
Label: ACT music
UPC: 0614427955524
Catnr: ACT 9555
Release date: 06 December 2013
1 CD
✓ in stock
€ 22.95
ACT music
Catalogue number
ACT 9555
Release date
06 December 2013

"Geen quote "

Pianowereld, 02-4-2014

About the album

There are some jazz musicians who sound old when they are young. Joachim Kühn, the most eminent international pianist in the history of German jazz, has retained his childlike curiosity even at the age of 69, and that keeps him youthful. With his open-mindedness and his sense for the magic of music he is not only one of the greatest experimenters but also one of the most important integrative figures in jazz. Whether playing together with greats of classical jazz such as Stan Getz, Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker, with American and European members of the avant-garde such as Ornette Coleman, Michel Portal and his own brother Rolf Kühn, with world musicians like Rabih Abou-Khalil, young tearaways like Michael Wollny and Adam Baldych or even in a highly reputed Bach project with the St. Thomas Boys' Choir of Leipzig, whether performing solo or in a big band – Kühn loves surprising encounters.

This love is reinforced by his new ACT album "Voodoo Sense", on which he once again acts as a catalyst, bringing together people and their music that had previously inhabited entirely different spheres and in doing so fusing together the past, present and future. On "Voodoo Sense" he revives an association that has spanned almost 50 years, ties it together with his current band, and then has both set off for new frontiers with young African musicians scouting the way. Kühn first experienced the saxophonist Archie Shepp live in 1967 in New York's Village Vanguard club. "The 'New Thing' that he and Coltrane introduced into jazz, especially rhythmically, was the expression of exactly what I was feeling, and reassured me that I was on the right track with my ideas," Kühn recalls. The paths of these kindred spirits, who both keep their music universal and open to influences – in Shepp's case even in an explicitly political sense – often crossed after that. In 2010 there was an extended collaboration as a duet, which culminated in the album "Wo!man" on Shepp's own Archieball label.

It was a duet that critics showered with superlatives: London's iconic critic Geoffrey Winston spoke of an "intense musical masterclass", Hans-Jürgen Linke wrote in the Frankfurter Rundschau that this duet "is something like the original of an Afro-American late-Romanesque, sound-intensive, finely structured, eruptive culture of improvisation in a high-tension space between fast-paced presence and respectful retrospection."

So what could have been more logical than to add Shepp to Kühn's "Wüstenjazz" trio with the Moroccan guembri, oud virtuoso and vocalist Majid Bekkas, and the Spanish percussionist and drummer Ramon Lopez. Especially as this acclaimed trio, in existence since 2003 and award-winning for its four ACT albums, "is what gives me the most and the top priority for the three of us," as Kühn notes. Furthermore, Kühn wanted to give "Voodoo Sense" a bigger scope, just as he had the previous Wüstenjazz projects. So Bekkas again put together a hand-picked team of African percussionists and singers in Danielle Gouria, Jean Eric Dally, Gilles Ahadji and Bounhar Abdessadek, led by the Talking Drum master Kouassi Bessan Joseph, who had already been part of "Out Of The Desert" in 2009 and now contributes his version of the African voodoo traditional "Gbalele" – a piece of music which ignited the spark of inspiration in Kühn for the title track.

Already the intro to "Voodoo Sense" is a clear signal of things to come. A late Coltrane classic is put through its paces in "Kulu Se Mama". Juno Lewis, the New Orleans Creole phenomenon, drummer, teacher and innovative instrument maker, recorded it in a kind of session with Coltrane in 1965, and it then lent its name to one of his legendary Impulse albums. Kühn, Shepp and Co. breathe their own brand of new life into this milestone of jazz history: the profound original lyrics interpreted in extracts by Majid Bekkas and highly expressive, expansive solo improvisations join with the power of lumbering Afro-Arabic rhythms, giving rise to a new, trance-like jazz. The result is an astounding musical meditation, the likes of which have become rare today.

Whether with archaic world music, the blues-imbued saxophone ballad "L'éternel Voyage" composed specifically for Shepp, with studies of pianistic harmony like "Crossing The Mirror" or thundering drama like the concluding "Firehorse", with the aid of his friends Kühn has taken yet another step forward in his quest for the magic of his own, one music – the "Voodoo Sense" as it were.


Joachim Kühn, born 15 March 1944 in Leipzig, is one of the few global German jazz stars. His piano playing defies categorisation and has blazed new trails for contemporary jazz. The musical citizen of the world Kühn considers himself bound to the jazz tradition, linked to European concert music, but most of all dedicated to a sound that is now. He reveals vehemence and sensitivity, masterful technique and imagination, an unmistakable feel for his keyboard and an unfailing sense of dynamics. Whether in the interplay with long-standing musician partners, in ever changing and often extraordinarily challenging band constellations or alone in his solo gigs, Joachim Kühn succeeds in making music an event.

Kühn has been leaving his mark on the international jazz scene since the 60s. As a 22 year-old, he took part in an international competition for young jazz musicians, and decided not to return to socialist East Germany. Instead he launched a global career. That same year his first album came out on the renowned label Impulse, after playing at the Newport Jazz Festival in the USA.

Since then he has played in often challenging constellations with musicians from all over the world, with the most diverse of musical backgrounds. He worked with distinguished free jazz exponents like Archie Shepp and Ornette Coleman, and with musicians the likes of Billy Cobham, Eddie Gomez, Michael Brecker and Joe Henderson in the 70s fusion scene of the American west coast. Then he formed an internationally leading piano trio in the 80s in Paris with the bassist Jean-François Jenny-Clark and the drummer Daniel Humair.
Just two years after the founding of ACT, he was the focal point of an all-star band in 1994, with, for example, Alfred Mangelsdorff, Klaus Doldinger, Django Bates and the Hannover Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. The large-scale manifesto that arose of a Europe-based jazz music "Europeana" also reflects Kühn's musical influences: Although dedicated to a contemporary jazz sound, he has always felt a connection to European concert music as well.

The genre-crossing concept is especially apparent in his solo playing, which has always been important to Joachim Kühn – and to a degree the true challenge among jazz pianists. So it is that on the solo album "Allegro Vivace" released by ACT in 2005, his own pieces are accompanied by compositions from Bach and Mozart, Coltrane and Coleman. This merging of such musical contrasts again illustrates Joachim Kühn's risk affinity and talent for improvisation.

He shows his virtuosity in duets as well, always with an attentive ear for his partner so they can interact on an equal footing. His collaborations with the up-and-coming pianist Michael Wollny ("Piano Works IX: Live at Schloss Elmau", 2009), the grandmaster of sax Heinz Sauer ("If (Blue) Then (Blue)", 2010) and Archie Shepp ("Wo!man", 2010 on Archieball) were all highly praised by critics. The former was even named Album of the Year by the French jazz magazine Jazzman.

His openness and spirit of discovery led Kühn to put together a trio, the likes of which had never been seen before. In 2003 he found two kindred spirits with regard to the desire to improvise, in the Moroccan Majid Bekkas, who plays the lute instruments guembri and oud, and the Spanish percussionist Ramon Lopez. And they brought with them their own cultural backgrounds and musical experiences. Their first album "Kalimba" in 2007 was followed by "Out Of The Desert" (2009), which was recorded in a session in the northern African desert with local musicians, and by "Chalaba" in 2011.

Considering this abundance of musical pioneers, international collaborations, and his for German jazz unparalleled status, it came as no surprise when Joachim Kühn was honoured with the ECHO Jazz for lifetime achievement in 2011, together with his brother Rolf. The second ECHO Jazz followed one year later. The collaboration of his "desert jazz" trio with the hr big band, "Out of the Desert live at Jazzfest Berlin", was distinguished as the Best Big Band Production.

On "Voodoo Sense", the fifth album with Majid Bekkas and Ramon Lopez, Kühn's respect for tradition is audible. Already the nearly 20-minute opener "Kulu Se Mama" – recorded together with Archie Shepp, a group of African percussionists and vocalists led by talking-drum maestro Kouassi Bessan Joseph – refers back to the Coltrane album of the same name from 1965. Whether with archaic world-music, the blues-soaked saxophone ballad "L’eternal Voyage" written especially for Shepp, studies of pianistic harmonics such as "Crossing The Mirror" or thundering drama such as the final piece "Firehorse" – with a little help from his friends, Kühn has once again taken another step in his search for the magic of his very own music, the Voodoo Sense as it were.

When Joachim Kühn celebrates his 70th birthday on 15 March 2014, he can look back on an amazing career as a pianist. But he wouldn't be Joachim Kühn if he wasn't still making new plans for the future.


Geen quote 
Pianowereld, 02-4-2014

Focus, 01-4-2014

Kühn goes aplenty against his perfect harmonious play, on this album you can hear why Kühn is world class.
Rootstime, 04-2-2014

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