Home » Jazz Articles » Joachim Kuhn: Europeana (Jazzphony No.1)

271
Album Review

Joachim Kuhn: Europeana (Jazzphony No.1)

By

Sign in to view read count
Joachim Kuhn: Europeana (Jazzphony No.1)
Owing little to the main stem US jazz tradition, composer Michael Gibbs' orchestral suite Europeana has more in common with the work of folk-influenced English composers like Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and Malcolm Arnold, and their particular varieties of English lyricism.

It's a work of magnificence and beauty which was barely noticed on original release eleven years ago and seems since to have been almost entirely forgotten. This audio enhanced reissue provides a welcome opportunity to celebrate it anew.

Despite co-funding from German radio, the recording represented a major investment for the independent ACT label in the days before it struck international gold with the Esbjorn Svensson Trio. The project involved commissioning Gibbs to suggest a group of European folk songs, and then arrange them for the Radio Philharmonia Hannover symphony orchestra, augmented by a jazz trio (pianist Joachim Kuhn, bassist Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark and drummer Jon Christensen), plus a diverse group of guest soloists (including trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, tenor horn player Django Bates and accordionist Richard Galliano). Gibbs also conducted the orchestra.

If you have an aversion to folksiness, stop worrying. While some folk-based projects may indeed adopt a tone best suited to the kindergarten, Gibbs' perspective on Europeana is by contrast big, majestic, adult and mysterious.

The suite includes thirteen traditional tunes: Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, French, Finnish, German, Swedish and Spanish. There's nothing from the English tradition, but it's Gibbs' cultural background—and in particular his very English scoring of the Philharmonia's strings and woodwinds, which is a joy in itself—which defines the album. Kuhn gets star billing on the packaging of this reissue, but he is essentially "just" another of the soloists. His astringent, going on dissonant style is, however, a valuable bit of grit in the machine.

Although it was regarded by most commentators as a quaint curiosity back in US-centric 1995, hindsight reveals Europeana as an important stepping stone in the evolution of contemporary European folk-jazz—not as influential as the work of Jan Garbarek or John Surman perhaps, but every bit as distinctive and enduring. The album may not have made the year-end best-of lists first time around, but it surely deserves to do so now as a reissue.

Track Listing

Castle In Heaven; Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair; The Shepherd Of Breton; The Ingrian Rune Song; The Groom's Sister; Norwegian Psalm; Three Angels; Heaven Has Created; She Moved Through The Fair; Crebe De Chet; Midnight Sun; Londonerry Air; Otra Jazzpana.

Personnel

Joachim Kuhn: piano; Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark: bass; Jon Christensen: drums. Orchestra Radio Philharmonia Hannover NDR. Soloists: Theo Wiemes: French horn (1); Douglas Byrd: oboe (2); Django Bates: tenor horn (2); Richard Galliano: accordion (3); Christof Lauer: soprano saxophone (5), tenor saxophone (7); Markus Stockhausen: fluegel horn (6), piccolo trumpet (8); Martin Stoll: oboe (6); Albert Mangelsdorff: trombone (7); Klaus Doldinger: soprano saxophone (9); Volker Worlizsch: violin (12). Michael Gibbs: arrangements, conductor.

Album information

Title: Europeana (Jazzphony No.1) | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ACT Music


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
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.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
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.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

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