Joachim Kuehn
(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Solos (1971), 5.5/10
Cinemascope (1974), 6/10
Hip Elegy (1975), 6/10
Springfever (1976), 7/10
Night Time in New York (1981), 6.5/10
Don't Split (1982), 6.5/10
I'm Not Dreaming (1983), 7/10
Distance (1984), 7/10
Easy to Read (1985), 6/10
Wandlungen/Transformations (1986), 6.5/10
Quintus - Dark (1988), 6/10
From Time to Time Free (1988), 6/10
Dynamics (1990), 7/10
Let's Be Generous (1990), 6/10
Carambolage (1991), 6.5/10
Wo!man (2010), 5/10

East German pianist Joachim Kuehn, or Kühn (1944), a classical musician by training, shifted to hard-bop in 1961, possibly under the influence of his brother, clarinetist Rolf Kuehn. After defecting to West Germany in 1966, the brothers formed a free-jazz quartet. Relocating to France in 1968, Joachim Kuehn joined JeanLuc Ponty for his album Experience (1969) and stayed with him till 1972. His musical emancipation began with the seven Solos (march 1971) and the jazz-rock quartet of Cinemascope (may 1974). After moving to California, Kuehn adopted a more atmospheric fusion style that led to Hip Elegy (november 1975), featuring Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino, American drummer Alphonse Mouzon, bassist John Lee, Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and British guitarist Philip Catherine, and containing his Hip Elegy In Kingsize, and to Springfever (april 1976), that pared down the group to a quartet with Catherine and contained the ten-minute Lady Amber. Night Time In New York (april 1981), featuring tenor saxophonists Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Billy Hart, achieved perhaps the most sophisticated sound (Yvonne Takes A Bath, April In New York, Nightline). These were pieces that straddled the border between progressive-rock and jazz-rock. Other highlights of this period were the nine-minute Horror Dream, off Don't Split (june 1982), a collaboration with Rolf Kuehn, and the ten-minute Heavy Birthday, off I'm Not Dreaming (march 1983), a chamber experiment with cellist Ottomar Borwitzky, trombonist George Lewis, percussionist Mark Nauseef and marimba player Herbert Foersch.

Back in Germany, Kuehn rediscovered his classical upbringing and turned to the grand piano and composed some austere pieces for solo piano such as the eleven-minute Norddeutschland on Distance (may 1984), the 18-minute Italienische Sonate and the ten-minute Wandlungen on Wandlungen/ Transformations (may 1986), and the 15-minute Bank Of Memory on Dynamics (june 1990), besides the ballet music of Quintus - Dark (1988) in collaboration with Walter Quintus. At the same time he also led a conventional be-bop trio that also flirted with free-jazz on Easy To Read (june 1985), with Details, From Time To Time Free (april 1988), with Trio Music, and especially Carambolage (september 1991), containing the 20-minute Carambolage.

The fragmented Let's Be Generous (august 1990), in a quartet with guitarist Miroslav Tadic, was his boldest attempt yet at fusing jazz, classical and rock music, with distorted electronic keyboards giving his music an unusual edge.

Wo!Man (november 2010) was a collaboration between Archie Shepp and Joachim Kuhn, who had already worked together in drummer Edward Vesala's band.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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