Joachim Kühn, who makes his debut at Umbria Jazz, is one of the most important figures in European jazz, with a career that goes well beyond half a century. Kühn was the first to play free jazz in the East Germany of the time, then he lived and worked in Paris and New York. He has played different genres by changing formulas and partners, and recently he has shown a marked predilection for melody. Hence the piano solo project, Melodic Ornette Coleman, which has already been turned into a record for the ACT label.
Kühn was the only pianist who played regularly in duo with Ornette, who normally didn’t have much feeling for the piano. It happened for sixteen dates between 1995 and 2000, for each of which Coleman wrote ten pieces, to be played only in that circumstance. Kühn was also involved in writing by Coleman, so these one hundred and seventy songs are also his and, in any case, it is he alone who owns the documents and recordings made in the private studio in Harlem. The German musician has decided to take this material, a tribute to Ornette’s “melodic” vein, and personalise it, although with the utmost respect for the writing. In fact, the pianist puts a lot of his own into it, starting from his acknowledged technical mastery, as well as pouring a cheerful singability into the presentation of the themes without, however, renouncing to do them in a complex way.
The two dates in the Gallery represent a good opportunity to listen to an artist who over the years has built a long, important and never banal story.