The German ACT label achieved global recognition when they issued the Esbjorn Svensson Trio album Viaticum (2005) and they warrant broader discovery by U.S. jazz fans. Though their country's best known label casts a global shadow over its competition, the ACT catalog has included Richie Beirach, Lars Danielsson, Vijay Iyer, Manu Katche, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bugge Wesseltoft, Tore Brunborg and a host of other well-known artists. Among those talents is one the finestbut under-recognizedjazz pianists of the past half-century. Joachim Kühn has had a presence on the label for more than twenty years and returns with his "New Trio" on Love & Peace.
The triono longer exactly "new"has been together since 2015 and had previously released Beauty & Truth (ACT, 2017). Bassist Chris Jennings and drummer Eric Schaefer, two musicians half Kühn's age, lend a vitality to the music that drives the pianist as well. The eleven tracks on Love & Peace are compact and crisp with straight-forward melodies, six of those written by Kühn. Jennings and Schaefer each contribute a composition and two others are from the very different worlds of The Doors and Modest Mussorgsky. The diversity of inspirations doesn't mar the overall theme.
The very brief title track sets the tone leading into Mussorgsky's "La Vieux Chateau," putting Kühn at home with his early classical training. The Doors "The Crystal Ship" is not the first time Kühn has covered the Morrison catalog; "The End" had appeared on Beauty & Truth. "BarcelonaWien" is lighter fare, conceived in-flight between those two cities. Eric Schaeter's "Lied ohne Worte No. 2" is the most melancholy piece on the album while Jennings' piece is a pastoral and vacillating "Casbah Radio."
Ornette Coleman has long been a jazz hero for Kühn, the two recording the duo album Colors: Live from Leipzig (Harmolodic/Verve, 1997). "Night Plans"which first appeared on that albumgets an abbreviated treatment here and one that has a more concentrated focus on the basic melody. Yet, as he does with each of the pieces here, Kühn demonstrates his unique skill at maintaining a harmonious core within his unusual musical inventions. In an interview with the Steinway piano company, Kühn said "I like to improvise life, piano, and painting. Really improvisenot knowing what you're going to do. Do it by doing." There's no question that the New Trio does just that on Love & Peace.
Love and Peace; La Vieux Chateau; The Crystal Ship; Mustang; Barcelona – Wien; But Strokes Of Folk; Lied Ohne Worte No.2; Casbah Radio; Night Plans; New Pharoah; Phrasen.
Joachim Kühn: piano; Chris Jennings: bass; Eric Schaefer: drums.