270

Kirk Knuffke: Amnesia Brown

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Kirk Knuffke: Amnesia Brown Brooklyn-based trumpeter Kirk Knuffke's sophomore effort, Amnesia Brown is a far more esoteric affair than his conventional piano-less quartet debut, Big Wig (Clean Feed, 2008). Eschewing a traditional rhythm section, Knuffke is joined by fellow members of Butch Morris' Nublu Orchestra—legendary Downtown stalwarts Doug Wieselman (on clarinet and electric guitar) and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Through sixteen brief cuts, the trio waxes and wanes from contemplative to impassioned, bounding effortlessly from one mood to the next.

Swinging without constraint, Knuffke's trio ignores the conventions of free-bop hegemony, moving beyond the stylistic antecedents of his previous release, invoking not only the innovations of the New Thing and AACM, but genres beyond jazz as well. Generating a surprising level of timbral diversity from a limited palette, Knuffke, Wieselman, and Wollesen veer from the chamber music-like austerity of "Narrative" to the raucous futuristic rockabilly of "Fix it, Charlie."

Wieselman's approach towards his choice of instrument often dictates the trio's tenor; his clarinet can be mellifluous and lyrical ("Need"), or strident and caterwauling ("High-pants Bob"). His amplified fretwork tends to be more abrasive, coloring "Red Bag" with coruscating shards, but he is also prone towards reverb-laced twang, used to good effect on the surf-inflected "Leadbelly." Knuffke's warm tone and earthy phrasing provides a stimulating contrast to Wieselman's skronky guitar, while transparently knitting with his pliant clarinet cadences. Wollesen proves his rhythmic ingenuity without a bassist, fulfilling the role of both time-keeper and melodic colorist.

Although the tunes are brief (three minutes on average) the trio manages to pack a significant number of ideas into each of these miniatures—more than some artists fit into an entire album. The title track and "Leadbelly" are stellar examples of the trio's ability to integrate inventive, succinct improvisations into memorable themes. Showcasing their diversity, "Please Help, Please Give" serves as the dissonant flipside to the album's tender closer, the romantic and sentimental ballad "Anne."

Referring to a bizarre family incident involving his great grandfather from many years ago, Amnesia Brown is appropriately disjointed, but compositionally astute, revealing an expansive worldview encapsulated in microcosmic fragments.

Track Listing: How it Goes; Double; Level; Amnesia Brown; 2nd; Red Bag; Leadbelly; Practical Sampling; Hears It; Totem; Need; Fix it, Charlie; High-pants Bob; Narrative; Please Help, Please Give; Anne.

Personnel: Kirk Knuffke: trumpet; Doug Wieselman: clarinet and guitar; Kenny Wollesen: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records | Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Right Where I Need to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Right Where I Need to Be
by Jim Olin
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Standard Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Standard Blue
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Perch Hen Brock & Rain/Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere" CD/LP/Track Review Perch Hen Brock & Rain/Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Vyamanikal" CD/LP/Track Review Vyamanikal
by Duncan Heining
Published: July 17, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!