Kirk Knuffke | Kenny Wollesen | Lisle Ellis | Chew Your Food | No Business Records

Kirk Knuffke : trumpet | Lisle Ellis : bass | Kenny Wollesen : drums

Side A: . Chirpy 2. The Work 3. Sung The Same 4. Whatever’S Next Side B: 1. That’s a shame 2. Chew Your Food 3. Motor 4. Loading 5. Grummet

All compositions by Kirk Knuffke (BMI) * Recorded 19th March, 2009 live at Roulette in New York City * Mixed by Jon Rosenberg * Mastered by Arunas Zujus at MAMAstudios * Design by Oskaras Anosovas * Producer – Danas Mikailionis * Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Young talented trumpet player

and composer from New York Kirk Knuffke has released several albums so far. This session was recorded live at Roulette in 2009 and presents a great trio of great musicians playing at their best. We love this recording and hope you will enjoy it as much as we do. Much more on Kirk Knuffke can be found by clicking here…

kirk knuffke | kenny wollesen | lisle ellis | chew your food | no business records

More than a musical mouthful

this session led by trumpeter Kirk Knuffke is an apt demonstration of unselfish trio interaction. The result of a Jerome Foundation composers grant, the nine compositions, recorded live at Roulette, flow seamlessly into one another. There’s no fear of starvation here. Just as Knuffke is known for his work with drummer Matt Wilson and Ideal Bread, drummer Kenny Wollesen has spiced up dates for players as different as pianist Myra Melford and saxist John Zorn. And if sonic sustenance is needed, bassist Lisle Ellis has previously expanded the menus of multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, among others. Ellis is a sympathetic sous-chef, voicing guitarlike twangs, steady walking or percussive thumps to showcase better Knuffke’s improvisational qualities. Equal assistance is available from Wollesen, who eschews a heavy hand when rhythmically flavoring. Responding to this nutritious diet, Knuffke’s appetizers include grace note articulation, widelyspaced rubato runs and echoing lines with lyrical flute-like qualities. In a couple of instances his main courses are presented a capella – carefully breathed grace notes, harsh bugle-like timbres or a gorgeous restrained fanfare that initially strains in a high register then modulates to more comfortable slurred echoes, amply complemented by thick stops from Ellis and Wollesen’s rolls and pops. To mix metaphors again, this disc is a sumptuous feast that gives you plenty to chew on while also providing plenty of food for thought. — Ken Waxman

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3 thoughts on “Kirk Knuffke | Kenny Wollesen | Lisle Ellis | Chew Your Food | No Business Records

  1. Originally from Colorado, trumpeter Kirk Knuffke has been based in the Big Apple since 2005. Though he may be best known as a member of drummer Matt Wilson’s celebrated Quartet, the brass man also leads his own quartet, with two previous recordings for the prolific Portuguese Clean Feed label, while he and pianist Jesse Stacken also record for Denmark’s Steeplechase label. Now, he unveils the debut of his trio on the adventurous Lithuanian No Business imprint, released in a limited edition of 500 LPs. As an aside, that travelogue tells something profound about the state of the current US jazz business.

    In 2009, Knuffke received a Jerome Foundation Composers grant though Roulette in New York City. The resultant works were performed at the club in March that year, with drummer Kenny Wollesen and bassist Lisle Ellis. Knuffke has previously worked in both their bands, so was familiar with their strengths. Ellis’ bass revels in a deep grainy timbre, nimble yet measured, maintaining an edgy commentary. Wolleson is more understated, gently keeping a pulse and coloring.

    Knuffke boasts such a warm rich tone that his trumpet, at times, sounds reminiscent of Kenny Wheeler’s flugelhorn on some ECM sides from the mid-’70s. That’s an impression reinforced by his airy lyrical bent, which finds expression throughout this 48-minute set. Although nine tracks are demarcated on the sleeve, they are aggregated into three continuous pieces, including two lengthy suites with parts linked by drum or bass interludes.

    As an opener, “Chirpy” is near-perfect. Knuffke’s trumpet ambles elegantly over a skipping beat, moving imperceptibly from theme to three way interplay. Knuffke smoothly negotiates the rhythmic contours, his sinuous lines effortlessly melodic. A choppy drum interlude heralds a return to the head, before a spot for Ellis signals a segue into the next section. Later, there is a lovely break for solitary trumpet: breathy, deliberately phrased, soft even in the higher registers, with brief wavering half valve effects, before the suite concludes with a minimalist passage for Wolleson’s shuffling brushes.

    “Chew Your Food” follows a tentative start with a pleasing duet for delicate, burry trumpet and austere arco bass, supported by subliminally rumbling drums. But in spite of these and other notable sections, the overall effect is one of undue restraint, which together with too few memorable themes, means that this band doesn’t quite deliver on its full potential.

  2. Kirk Knuffke is an up and coming trumpet player (now focusing on cornet according to his web site) who leads a very well focused and classy trio on this live recording taken from The Roulette in 2009. He is joined on this recording by Kenny Wollesen on drums and Lisle Ellis on bass. The music has an open ended and elastic feel, with the music coming in a continuous suite like formation, with themes drifting to the fore and then improvised upon. Beginning at a medium tempo, Wollesen and Ellis create a deep pocket that is rife with musical possibility. Knuffke has a bright and warm sound to his instrument, and they play strong collective improvisation with depth and integrity.

    He steps out with spare and yearning unaccompanied trumpet at one point, filling with space around him with deeply emotional music. Their final medley on the album begins with a spare, fragile feeling, abstract bowed bass scrapes the open space, sculpting and molding the sound in conjunction with trumpet and subtle percussion. Wollesen develops a drum solo, still muted but quite impressive in its controlled power. The group finishes their journey with some punchy fast trio improvisation. he music on this album is graceful and subtle, with the three musicians completely attuned to their musical mission. This is a thoughtfully done album with rewards close listening.

  3. I’m a lover of small ensembles, and the trumpet trio is surely one of my favorites, and when the musicians are Kirk Knuffke on trumpet, Lisle Ellis on bass, and Kenny Wollesen on drums, quality and skills are almost guaranteed. The performance on this LP was recorded live at Roulette in New York last year.

    I have appreciated Knuffke’s playing and music before, and I will do it again here. His tone is always full and warm, and he’s a master at taking tough bends easily. The music is jazz in its purest sense : improvisational joy and emotional expressivity in a compact form. There is nothing but pulse in the pieces they play, even if the rhythms are not always explicit or when there are no patterns, the three musicians interact so well that they invent on the spot and keep this pulse going. Most of the pieces are uptempo, and real fun. The last track on side A, “Whatever’s Next”, shows a more bluesy side of the trio, slow and full of pain and agony, but then just in terms of feeling and mood, and without falling back on familiar structures.

    The second side starts with great interplay between Ellis and Wollesen, over an open tune, but then comes the title track, a real goose bumps piece, slow again, with Ellis playing arco and Knuffke crying his heart out over soft fingerbeats on the toms, and Wollesen’s drumming even evolves into a wonderfully restraint and mesmerizing drums solo, which leads us into the next piece, more mid-tempo, open-textured yet again so full of soul.

    Critics who claim that free jazz is all about noise and violence, or that avant-garde is all cerebral and abstract stuff, should listen to this album to be contradicted. This trio is almost jazz in its pure essence : three guys making music straight from the heart, and truly liberated in spirit, and with instrumental skills of such a level that it’s all conveyed as if without the slightest effort. Great stuff!

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