271

Joachim Kuhn: Europeana (Jazzphony No.1)

Chris May 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.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ACT Nu Jazz | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Beloved" CD/LP/Track Review Beloved
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "Niechęć" CD/LP/Track Review Niechęć
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 16, 2016
Read "Faith" CD/LP/Track Review Faith
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!