Achim Kaufmann's first solo piano disc is a study in atonal expressionism and sonic adventurism, draped in dark mysteries. Recorded mainly at the Bimhuis in the pianist's home city of Amsterdam, Knives consists of eighteen fairly short pieces that showcase Kaufmann's technical excellence, his aptitude for instant orchestration, his imaginative use of "mixed techniques" (ie. prepared piano), and his firm yet idiosyncratic grasp of jazz piano tradition.
One cannot but admire the discipline of his left-hand bass lines on "A Dreg of Red" and "Marche B2," or his elliptical use of tonality on "More Than a Simple Shoreline" and the closing thirty seconds of "Sheets Surfacing Like an Ocean." Only six of the pieces entail mixed techniques, but their aural and emotive range is broadfrom the muted percussivism of "Dips and Proclivities" to the whooshing and scraping of "Heavy Lace," the Zen-like calm of "Space Usually Given Over to Knives," and the pinging, Eastern-tinged high notes of "Sand Melody." In his liner notes, Greg Buium lists some of Kaufmann's tools: a plastic ruler, fingers, a sander, and a piano-tuning wedge, among other things.
There is a rich contrast and a good deal of overlap between Kaufmann's abstract sound art and his more "traditional" pieces. One hears it in the jump from "Her Hair a Dark River," with its crescendoing knocks and groans, to the stately yet obscure harmonies of "No Trace of Food, or Grief" and "Four Small Rooms." But the most striking departure is a seven-minute reading of "2300 Skidoo" by Herbie Nichols. Beginning with staccato jabs and harsh clusters, Kaufmann eases into the swinging melody gradually, using tempo as one dramatic device among many. His right-hand tremolos and neo-stride reference points make clear that this "out" player can access "in" at any moment.
Track Listing: 1- The Last Vestiges, 2- A Dreg of Red, 3- Your Smile a Stone, Shattering My Breath, 4- Dips and Proclivities, 5- More Than a Simple Shoreline, 6- Landscape Faux-naif, 7- Sheets Surfacing Like an Ocean, 8- Space Usually Given Over to Knives, 9-Her Hair a Dark River, 10- No Trace of Food, or Grief, 11- Four Small Rooms, 12- Marche B2,13- 2300 Skiddoo, 14- Heavy Lace, 15- Of Water Plants and Figurines, 16- Sand Melody, 17- Windows Composing Trees, 18- Beyond Which the Blue Trembles.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.