Country : Germany / Poland Label : ACT Music Genres and styles : Contemporary Jazz / Jazz Year : 2020

Speaking Sound

· by Steve Naud

At 75 years old, Joachim Kühn can be considered a monument of the European jazz scene. Over the years and through many important encounters (Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Don Cherry…), the pianist has perfected a style all his own, at the crossroads of free jazz, more traditional jazz and classical chamber music. On Speaking Sound, he is accompanied by Mateusz Smoczynski, a Polish violinist in his forties.

At Kühn’s invitation, the young founder of the Atom String Quartet travelled to the paradise island of Ibiza, where the pianist has taken up residence. Together they recorded nearly four and a half hours of music, from which the pieces that make up this superb disc were taken. With the exception of the dashing “Paganini”, which closes the album in a radiant fashion, the compositions are mostly calm and poetic. There are influences of contemporary European music, lively  improvised passages and even some oriental flavours, notably on “I’m Better Off Without You”, a cover of a composition by Lebanese oud player Rabih Abou-Khalil.

Between these two virtuosos of two different generations – but endowed with a similar sense of listening and sensitivity – the current flows smooth and clear, much to the listener’s delight.

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