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A legend swimming in different waters
since 1960’s: Joachim Kühn

Blog
A legend swimming in different waters since 1960’s: Joachim Kühn

15.05.2018

Text: Cem Kayıran 

Starting off his music career in 60’s, German musician Joachim Kühn has been building a career with a strong vision and open-minded perspective towards music. Kühn took the stage with his trio, Chris Jennings on the contrabass and Eric Schaefer on the drums, on 8 March for Akbank Sanat 25th Year Concert series. Here is a look at milestones from Kühn’s career as well as three important albums from his discography.

- Joachim Kühn took classic piano and composition lessons from an early age. Later, he started to take an interest in jazz, influenced by his brother Rolf Kühn, who plays the clarinet. Kicked off his professional career in 1961 with his jazz band taking the stage in various concerts around Prague. Shortly after, he formed his trio and produced some of the earliest free jazz music in East Germany.

- Kühn’s 12 year long classical education helped him to have full control over his instrument and at an early period of his career, he started to challenge forms and establish fusions between various musical perspectives. During 60’s he continued to make music with his brother Rolf, with whom he also shared the stage at prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. 

- After living in Prague and Hamburg, he moved to Paris towards the end of 60’s, collaborating with many musicians there, while also continuing to lead his own band. After accompanying names like violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and legendary trumpet player Don Cherry with his piano, Kühn moved to California and took part in recording sessions with important names from the fusion scene. 

- Moving back to Europe in 80’s, Kühn carried on his music career; forming a new, acoustic trio with Daniel Humair and Jean-François Jenny. The trio released three albums between 1985 - 1998. A major moment in Kühn’s career came in 1990’s. His duo record with Ornette Coleman, Colors: Live from Leipzig, received high praise from important music authorities. Kühn also carried on his solo work, releasing solo piano albums from prestigious record labels such as Atlantic and Label Bleu.

- Receiving one of the most prestigious awards of German music industry, Echo Jazz live time achievement award in 2011. In 2015, Kühn started off Joachim Kühn New Trio together with Chris Jennings and Eric Schaefer. The trio, took the stage Akbank Sanat on 8 March, released two albums with ACT label and received “The Best German Band of the Year” award at last year’s Echo Jazz Awards.

3 important albums from Joachim Kühn to listen to after the concert

The Rolf & Joachim Kühn Quartet – Impressions of New York
(Impulse! – 1967)

Impressions of New York (1967) is one of the highlights from the legendary musician’s early period. Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Aldo Romano (drums) accompany Kühn brothers’ clarinet and piano. Produced by Bob Thiele, the record consist of two long tracks and showcase extraordinary story telling elements.

Listen.

Ornette Coleman & Joachim Kühn – Colors: Live from Leipzig
(Harmodic / Verve – 1997)

A live record of Joachim Kühn and Ornette Coleman’s concert at an opera house in Leipzig, the city Kühn was born in, Colors: Live from Leipzig, is a unique performance by two musicians at the peak of their careers. The album consist of eight renditions of Coleman’s songs and Kühn’s striking solos highlight the strong bond between the musician and his instrument. Ornette Coleman  has been a leading figure in Kühn’s interest in free jazz, and the duo’s album takes an important place in both musician’s catalogues.

Listen.

Joachim Kühn New Trio – Beauty & Truth
(ACT, 2016)

Released in 2016, Beauty & Truth is the first album Kühn recorded with his award winning new trio. The opening track, which also gives the album its name, is a Ornette Coleman composition. The album also includes three songs from Kühn as well as two renditions from The Doors. Released from AXT records, the album closes with a striking rendition of Gil Evan’s “Blues for Pablo”.

Listen.

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