223

Kirk Knuffke Quartet: Big Wig

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Kirk Knuffke Quartet: Big Wig Since moving to New York in 2005 from his native Colorado, the young trumpet player Kirk Knuffke has performed with composer Butch Morris, singer-songwriter Josh Ritter and Downtown drummers Kenny Wollesen and Jeff Davis, among others. Knuffke initially sought out bassist Reuben Radding and drummer Jeff Davis as trio-mates, but a chance encounter with trombonist Brian Drye yielded a quartet.

As members of a new generation of Downtown musicians, these four share a conceptual outlook towards jazz improvisation that finds no contradiction between inside and outside playing. The result is sinuous free bop with deep roots in Pre-War swing as well as Post-War innovations. Big Wig is Knuffke's debut album.

The record features a dozen tunes in just over an hour (short by jazz standards) yet the quartet packs an abundance of inspired ideas and stellar interplay into each selection. There is an appealing, roughshod feel to the album which provides stark contrast to many over-polished post bop sessions. As a former student of Ornette Coleman and an admirer of Steve Lacy (he's a member of Ideal Bread, a Lacy repertory band), Knuffke's inside-outside concepts exude an unfussy, yet tuneful sensibility. His writing encompasses hearty in-the-pocket swing, turbulent collective improvisation and spacey, aleatoric interludes with equal conviction.

The rhythm section is top notch; Radding and Davis are two of the finest players of their generation. Their interaction is punchy and aggressive, yet fluid and dynamically varied. They veer from abstract, ramshackle rhythms peppered with metric modulation and stop-time tempos to sly understated swing with effortless grace. Drye makes an ideal front line foil for Knuffke; together they uncoil brassy unison cadences that blend catchy melodies with pungent growls and smears—drawing a conceptual line from Cootie Williams to Lester Bowie.

While the tunes share a similarity in tone and execution, they offer compelling dialogs and brisk solos that never overstay their welcome. Swaggering with hard-bop muscle and free jazz expressionism, Big Wig is a smart and engaging debut record.

Track Listing: Enough; The Same; Sustain1; Something's Always Change; Page 1 # 1; Sustain2; Normal; Charp; Repeat; Is Is; Big Wig; Truck.

Personnel: Kirk Knuffke: trumpet; Brian Drye: trombone; Reuben Radding: bass; Jeff Davis: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Right Up On CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Wanderlust CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Evolution CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Imagination CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read On A Monday Evening CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Graveyard Whistling" CD/LP/Track Review Graveyard Whistling
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 5, 2017
Read "Time Is Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Time Is Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "Escape  from The Unhappy Society" CD/LP/Track Review Escape from The Unhappy Society
by Anthony Shaw
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Tyrant Lizard" CD/LP/Track Review Tyrant Lizard
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Crowded Solitudes" CD/LP/Track Review Crowded Solitudes
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!