Thursday, February 22, 2018

Peter Kuhn Trio - Intention (FMR Records, 2018)

Bass clarinetist Peter Kuhn came back in style a few years ago with an excellent re-issue of classic material and an accompanying album of fresh new material. This album is one of two new records that continues his renaissance with Kuhn playing b-flat and bass clarinets, Kyle Motl on bass and Nathan Hubbard on drums.  Like his colleague Abbey Rader, there is a spiritual dimension to Kuhn’s music as well, manifesting itself in the Buddhist traditions he has studied and the high level of understanding and cooperation within the music that allows for kinetic collective improvisations within the structure of well designed frameworks. The creations on this album are optimistic and exciting, and it consists of nine short to medium tracks which all feature pointed and powerful improvisations where Kuhn really makes a mark on the bass clarinet developing a deep woody and resonant sound that gives the music a distinctive stamp. The title track "Intention" opens with a light and nimble setting for clarinet, skittish percussion and elastic bass, frolicking around in a free and unfettered manner. The tempo is fast but the weight of the music is not overbearing, developing in an accessible manner, and stays rhythmically interesting throughout. "ChaWang" has Kuhn moving to bass clarinet which he has a unique mastery of and puts him in the company of fellow travelers like Eric Dolphy and David Murray. This track develops in a more caustic and nervous manner, with fast slashing percussion and rumbling bass meeting the hollow and sweeping sound of the bass clarinet. The music continues in a dynamic fashion, dropping into dark and mysterious places, before fluttering back up into the light. There is an open ended approach to "Perception Deception" which has a freely improvised section for bowed bass and bass clarinet with percussion, that creates a very earthy and grounded performance, with the context of the music providing its propulsion into raw feelings and scouring voids where meditative haunting sound play out. "The Path" is particularly exciting with all three musicians going for broke including deep resonant bowed and plucked bass, powerfully rhythmic drumming and ecstatic clarinet. They keep the past fast and frenetic, developing a powerful collective improvisation that drives the music forward relentlessly. The interplay between bowed bass and clarinet is particularly impressive on "Arise" an the texture that these two instruments are able to achieve in cahoots with the excellent drumming is very impressive. Overall this was a very good modern jazz album with a fine balance between thematic material and free improvisation all buoyed by excellent instrumental prowess. Intention - peterkuhnmusic

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