Home » Jazz Articles » Kirk Knuffke: Brightness Live In Amsterdam


Album Review

Kirk Knuffke: Brightness Live In Amsterdam


Sign in to view read count
Kirk Knuffke: Brightness Live In Amsterdam
Kirk Knuffke's well-developed musical pedigree compelled the ever-so-astute drummer/composer/bandleader Allison Miller to recruit him for her forward-thinking ensemble Boom Tic Boom. It's the same premise upon which guitarist Charlie Hunter enlisted this man with the horns accompaniment for Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth (Self-Produced, 2016). And in also assuming the roles of bandleader/composer for Brightness Live in Amsterdam, Knuffke calls upon his well-honed versatility as well.

Accordingly, this forty-five minutes begins with him blowing soft but insistent notes to invoke a collective muse. And sure enough, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bill Goodwin follow suit on their respective instruments as the leader takes flight, the recording of their interactions serving to reveal its tactile realism. Hearing tracks like "Rise," any music lover might reasonably wonder how different it sounded on the stage of Amsterdam's Bimhuis.

Five to near ten-minute performances here don't extend an inordinately long time. But, as with one featuring Knuffke's voice, "White Shoulders," the trio takes enough time to explore the potential of each composition, at least to the extent of outlining its structure and how that leaves room for additional expansion. The three man expedition is somewhat more pointed on "Odds," as the tune calls for such focus, but there remains the distinct sense that number could sound markedly different (and proportionately fresh) each time they play it.

Knuffke, Goodwin and Helias present as much savory nuance during "The Mob, the Crowd, The Mass" as on any of the other seven tracks. But the inclusion of another totally unaffected vocal from the bandleader adds to the well-rounded balance of Brightness Live in Amsterdam; no one gets short shrift here, especially as that number proceeds almost imperceptibly into the loose-limbed "That's A Shame," where the musicians dance around each other with consummate grace and agility.

It's testament to the trio's individual and collective instincts that they leave plenty of room for each other as they toss ideas back and forth, then pursue various trains of thought to logical conclusions in the spontaneity of those particular moments. The real beauty of Brightness Live In Amsterdam may lie in the fact another such concert document might sound markedly different, but equally satisfying.

Track Listing

Brightness; Rise; White Shoulders; Odds; The Mob, The Crowd, The Mass; That’s A Shame; Spares and Falls.


Kirk Knuffke: cornet; Bill Goodwin: drums; Mark Helias: bass.

Album information

Title: Brightness Live In Amsterdam | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Royal Potato Family

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Cecile McLorin Salvant
Friendship Music for Turkey
Berke Can Özcan, Jonah Parzen-Johnson
Fata Morgana
Ensemble Dedalus + eRikm
Andrew Moorhead


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.