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Peter Kuhn Trio: Intention

John Sharpe By

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Reedman Peter Kuhn's re-emergence on disc after a 35-year hiatus was one of the more heartening stories of 2016. Kuhn figured on the New York loft jazz scene during the latter half of the 1970s, releasing three LPs under his own leadership, notably Livin' Right, reissued to much acclaim as part of No Coming, No Going (NoBusiness Records, 2016), as well as appearing on dates by saxophonist Frank Lowe and bassist William Parker. Proof that The Other Shore (NoBusiness Records, 2016)—recorded in southern California with a pair of like-minded free spirits—was no flash in the pan arrives with his trio's sophomore album Intention.

While Kuhn's name features most prominently on the banner, there's no doubting that the threesome forms a truly integrated unit, as they plot a collective course through nine seat-of-the-pants excursions. As with all good co-operatives, the spotlight shifts imperceptibly among the participants; but the distilled density and emotional weight of Kuhn's unpredictable lines mean that he always has something interesting to say. The relationship between him and resourceful bassist Kyle Motl remains a particular high point of the outfit's creativity, although that's not to denigrate the way in which drummer Nathan Hubbard's convulsive snap both shepherds and challenges the often conversational activity.

"Perception Deception" amply demonstrates how much everyone tunes into the same wavelength. Their joint pauses almost sound as if they are drawing breath in unison. It's on this cut that Hubbard gets the opportunity to showcase the tuneful aspect of his drumming, while Kuhn holds down the background with repeated long tones. Whether the reedman wields his clarinet (the dancing, jostling title track), bass clarinet (the ballad-style "Gift In The Wound"), or what seems like an uncredited saxophone (the full-force closer "Disaster And After") he's always alert to the potential changes of direction which might arise from his partners' responses.

Other noteworthy episodes include the caffeinated vim of "The Path," illuminated by Motl's alternation between wiry abrasion and speedy pizzicato crenulations, and the constant give-and-take of "Arise," initiated by the bassist's potent arco calisthenics. The only wrinkle comes on "The Stream," which conjures the specter of the blues "Stormy Weather," and consequently assumes familiarity quicker than the more abstract offerings which make up the bulk of this otherwise splendid set.

Track Listing: Intention; ChaWang; The Stream; Perception Deception; The Path; Arise; Gift In The Wound; Resilience; Disaster And After.

Personnel: Peter Kuhn: clarinet, bass clarinet; Kyle Motl: bass; Nathan Hubbard: drums.

Title: Intention | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: FMR Records

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