Brilliant Piano Trio: Kühn, Humair, Jenny-Clark

Continuing the discussion from What are you listening to and WHY might anyone be interested?:

Me too, @BertBird

I listen often to piano trios - Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett.

I had come recently to a bit of an impasse where I wanted to find something new.

I always liked this album with Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark on bass:

That led me to Joachim Kühn and Daniel Humair with Jenny-Clark - wow, what an amazing trio.

Now I listen to Kühn every day… a genius, so many wonderful albums, many on ACT.

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@JosquinDesPrez have you ever heard this trio, or other configurations of these 3 musicians?

Kühn plays so fast and with great energy and expressiveness - and the recordings sound superb that I listen to…

Sorry, no, but other than Joachim Kühn (who I am not familiar with) I don’t see the other musicians you are referring to.

There are so many more very interesting trios which one could listen to. I don’t have much time to answer now but will do so in the coming days. Some other less known ones I also like to listen to is Michael Wollny…, many more to follow with concrete album suggestions….

Thanks, Bert.

Michael Wollny has made records with Joachim Kühn, which I have not yet listened to, but do plan to do so.

This is a one off affair I belief. For me one of the most joyful trio jazz albums.

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This is another interesting artist. A modern take on the trio with a southern atmosphere. And the double bass part is taken by a cello……, an absolute jewel.

Another interesting trio a lot of PRAT….

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Thanks Bert - will sample these soon.

I think you recommended Phronesis a few years ago.

Just listening to this lovely solo piano:

My first exposure to Joachim Kuhn was on this collaboration with Rabih Abou Khalil:

Journey to the Centre of an Egg


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Hey, thanks Restock - I’ll give this a spin soon.

What else by Kühn do you enjoy?

Currently listening to Radio 3HD.

The name ‘Journey to the Centre of an Egg’ reminds me of Solihull School in the 70s where the standard detention punishment was to write for the entire time on ‘The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball’ - which admittedly I quite enjoyed doing, and in retrospect was a canny way to force naughty boys to exercise their imaginations.

An egg, of course, is far from empty…:nest_with_eggs::egg::fried_egg::hatching_chick::hatched_chick::rooster::nest_with_eggs:

This is a good example of their interplay (on Qobuz):

I heard Humair and Jenny-Clarke live with - I think - Louis Sclavis on clarinet, this was many many years ago (35? 40?). Very good they were.

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Interesting-can you say where they were playing?

I’ll look it up on Qobuz next time I have the Mu-so out. Thanks.

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I think this was a jazz festival in Northern France. Lille?

An experience that can never be relived as J.F. Jenny -Clark is no longer with us:

In Ancient Greek drama, the word ‘tragedy’ implied the intervention of fate, resulting in an unhappy ending. We in the jazz community, and especially in Europe, have recently suffered such a calamity with the passing of bassist Jean-François Jenny-Clark, more commonly known as JF. For a man like this to be struck with cancer is indeed a turn of fate beyond the comprehension of us mortals. Most jazz musicians are by nature not religiously inclined, at least in the formal sense, but are almost by definition spiritually sensitive. When an event like this occurs, it does tend to make that side of us seek some answer to the burning and obvious question of why him, why now. You find yourself saying how could this happen to that wonderful human being, that giant of all people.

And JF was in all senses of the word, a giant of a man. He was among the kindest and gentlest of souls, a rare quality in the macho atmosphere of jazz. He was a considerate person who always asked how you were doing, how was your family, your life. He rarely spoke about his trials and tribulations, even when the illness struck. His work for the Humanistic Movement was something he never discussed, yet he was one of the only musicians I have known who thought about the bigger picture and took some action related to it. He cared about the way the world worked, the injustices that we witness, the indignity of it all. He was by nature a sensitive and caring person, a pleasure to know regardless of his musical abilities.

And what musical abilities!! I know it is frowned upon to judge someone as a musician to be the best around. But I must admit to you that I have felt this way about a musician or two over the years, beyond category or style. For my taste and experience, JFJC was the best all-round bass player I ever heard or was privileged to play with. Apart from his impeccable musicianship, which included the bow, reading, chord changes or free, swinging time or rubato, what I thought made JF so remarkable was his soloing, which was never predictable. JF played in a way that captures what I feel is the essence of an improvised art like jazz, which is the ‘being there’ element. First you have complete control of the music and your instrument, then you abandon it to the spirit and the moment. He embodied that principle.

To say he was cut off early would be an understatement. The disease, a form of lymphoma, struck a few years ago and put everyone who knew him in shock. How could this happen to him of all people! It reminded those of us who knew JF of our own mortality. Here was one of us fighting for his life. And fight, is what he did. All of his peers will recite how they saw him just recently and he was doing very well. About how he was playing and recording a little, how good he looked and how confident he was. When he spoke of the disease, it was like it was some little pest that he had to wipe off his sleeve. He didn’t give in to it and he paid some horrendous dues these last years in the battle. I wrote a tune simply called JF dedicated to him and when he heard it at a club in Paris, his smile and glow spoke volumes. It is hard to believe he is gone.

When there is a loss like this, one thinks of the close friends who have been his associates for years: the remaining members of the greatest trio of the past decade, Daniel Humair and Joachim Kühn, his fellow bassists Jean Paul Celea and Bernard Cazauran, who along with his lady of years whom he married in the weeks before his passing, Anne, were there for him all the time during these years, and all the other French as well as European and American musicians who were lifted up by his playing.

But we are lucky in the music world. We have his presence on tape for ever. As I wrote him in the last days, his memory will be with those he touched until the end of time and beyond. A man like JF, a spirit as large as he was, an artist of that immense talent lives on through the ages and his sound will always be there for us to hear and feel. We all meet anyway in the great jam session in the sky, so ’til then, mon ami, have a glass of wine and that beautiful bass of yours ready because we will be looking for you!

D. Liebman – Jazz Changes – autumn 1998

Another great track by a piano Trio:

I’m playing this now. I think it’s pretty good, but I don’t know that I would buy any of it in a physical format. It’s good enough to stream from Qobuz as is for now.

If you like this, I suggest you check out the Gary Peacock Trio albums Now This and Tangents on ECM. Those are fantastic and continue to get play as some of my favorite piano trio jazz albums, with Marc Copland and Kenny Barron.

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Glad you like it.

I’ve been listening to Kühn tonight on YT into my HiFi, including some of his stuff from the 70s.

He plays trills very fast, with clarity and purpose and authentic musical intensity and expression.

I am getting something from watching him that I never got from even my very favourite pianists such as Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett.

Yes, I do know those Gary Peacock albums, very good.

The cover art and opening track, especially on Now This I remember as having a grand scale and a sort of lonely beauty…

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