Kirk Knuffke: Brightness Live In Amsterdam

Doug Collette By

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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: trumpet; Bill Goodwin: drums; Mark Helias: bass.

Album information

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

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