Two extraordinary players from two coasts--clarinetist Ben Goldberg from the West and cornetist Kirk Knuffke from the East--in an exuberant duo of lyrical and virtuosic free jazz that astonishes the listener with the ease of their interactions in both parallel and contrasting lines, supporting the other as they express themselves uniquely; an impressive achievement!
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Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR 1064
Squidco Product Code: 25864
Recorded at Acoustic recording, n Brooklyn, New York, in June , 2014, by Michael Brorby.
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• Show Bio for Ben Goldberg
"Ben Goldberg is an American clarinet player and composer. Born August 8, 1959 (age 58) in Denver, Colorado.
He grew up in Denver, Colorado. Goldberg grew up playing clarinet, playing in school bands, and has an undergraduate music degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master of Arts in composition from Mills College. He was a pupil of clarinetist Rosario Mazzeo, and studied with Steve Lacy and Joe Lovano. Interested in the intersection between jazz (the music) and clarinet (the instrument), Goldberg started exploring the rich clarinet traditions found in klezmer music.
After a stint with the Bay Area band The Klezmorim, he branched out and created his own band, the New Klezmer Trio, named after the New Tango Quintet, with Dan Seamans and Kenny Wollesen. This was the first of many ensembles that Goldberg would lead and/or participate in, primarily in and around the Bay Area. The New Klezmer Trio has produced three albums and the free improvisation on "Masks and Faces" was described as having "kicked open the door for radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music." Goldberg's musicality is inspiring, to audiences and to his fellow musicians; "Sometimes the most influential musicians are the ones who don't call much attention to themselves. Take Berkeley clarinetist Ben Goldberg, who for the past two decades has quietly inspired some of the Bay Area's most creative musicians."
In addition to composing for and playing in the Ben Goldberg Quintet, he has performed in the groups Tin Hat, Plays Monk, Myra Melford's Be Bread, Nels Cline's New Monastery, Afterlife Music Radio, and Go Home. The eleven-piece Ben Goldberg's Brainchild performs his on-the-spot compositions.
Goldberg has played with Bill Frisell, Don Byron, Ellery Eskelin, Jenny Scheinman, John Zorn, Mark Dresser, Mark Feldman, Miya Masaoka, Roswell Rudd, Steven Bernstein, Vijay Iyer, Wayne Horvitz, and Zeena Parkins.
Goldberg is also the founder of the music label BAG Production.
Recently Goldberg has branched out into songwriting. His "Orphic Machine" project, largely commissioned by Chamber Music America, premiered at the Jewish Music Festival in March 2012 and was also performed in Los Angeles, California. The song-cycle is based on the writings of Allen Grossman and, for one critic, "the piece's thoughtful, sprawling compositions course through such a variety of styles and open-ended impulses that it would be tempting to dub this a new kind of world music." Regarding songwriting and composing, in a 2010 profile piece in All About Jazz, Goldberg said, "I don't just want to give people something that they can appreciate or understand, or that makes them think, or something like that. I used to kind of feel that that's what I wanted to do, but that's not what I want anymore. I want to give people something that they can love." "-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Goldberg)
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• Show Bio for Kirk Knuffke
"Cornetist and Composer Kirk Knuffke is the winner of Downbeat Magazine's "Rising Star"critics poll for 2015. A recipient of the Jerome Foundation composers grant, Kirk has released 15 recordings as a leader or co-leader. "One of modern jazz's most skilled navigators of the divide between inside and outside, freedom and swing", he has "full command of his most demanding instrument" - All About Jazz. Kirk placed in the top five in the World in the El Intruso critics poll and was one of 6 nominees for Trumpeter of the year by the Jazz Journalist Association.
Matt Wilson, Allison Miller, Butch Morris, Uri Caine, Michael Formanek, and many more have hired him as a sideman for over 60 recordings, he has been called "One of New York City's busiest musicians" - New York Times.
Knuffke has been based in NYC since 2005. Shortly after his arrival Knuffke began playing with Butch Morris, this friendship resulted in 4 recordings and several European tours. Kirk joined the celebrated Matt Wilson Quartet in 2009, recording "Gathering Call" (Palmetto) featuring John Medeski and touring each year. 2016 brought Matt Wilson's "Beginning of a memory" Palmetto, which received 5 stars in Downbeat Magazine. Michael Formaneks "The Distance" ECM was also awarded 5 stars this year. Knuffke also plays in "Sifter" with Mary Halvorson and Wilson, Ideal Bread, Allison Miller's "Boom Tic Boom", Todd Sickafoose's "Tiny Resistors" and groups led by Ray Anderson, Uri Caine, Mark Helias, Bill Goodwin, Karl Berger and Ted Brown to name a few. "Arm and Hands" a recent release garnering praise from every major Jazz publication as 4 Stars in Downbeat magazine review and Sunday New York Times. The Following CDs "Little Cross" Steeplechase records and "Lamplighter" Fresh Sound Records have also received much praise. Kirk Has had feature articles in Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, Germany's "Sonic", and Denmark's "JazzSpecial" among others."-Kirk Knuffke Website (http://kirkknuffke.com/biography.html)
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1. Saguache 4:33
2. Basalt 3:10
3. Blue River 4:11
4. La Junta 2:53
5. Ouray 2:32
6. Gypsum 1:22
7. Rocky Ford 4:34
8. Leadville 2:59
9. Granby 5:29
10. De Beque 1:44
11. Paonia 1:16
12. Fairplay 2:05
13. Carbondale 4:46
14. Cortez 0:54
sample the album:
"Two of the most in-demand horn players in the current creative music scene, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and clarinetist Ben Goldberg delight in making music that combines a deep respect for the history of jazz with an unmistakable spirit of adventure and risk. Both are seasoned veterans with nothing to prove, and they can do it all, from intimate duo and trio settings to larger ensemble work, and with everything from well-constructed compositions to freely-improvised music. Regardless of the context or the repertoire, with these two musicians one is guaranteed to get top-shelf results, so putting the two of them together is a no-brainer. And the fourteen idea-filled extemporaneous miniatures on Uncompahgre show convincingly that free improvisation can be both challenging and a heck of a lot of fun at the same time.
Knuffke's no stranger to duo recordings, as he's made some fine ones with pianist Jesse Stacken for the Steeplechase label. But those focused on classic material; for example Mockingbird (2009) drew from the Ellington and Monk songbooks, and Orange Was the Color (2011) delved into Mingus. Here those constraints are nonexistent, which offers substantially more liberation, but Knuffke is too lyrical a player to let that freedom become licentious or self-indulgent. And Goldberg shares that sensibility fully, as he is similarly inclined to seek a melodic foundation for whatever he is playing, something demonstrated on his own recent duo recording with pianist Myra Melford, the suitably titled Dialogue (BAG Production, 2015).
Goldberg's dulcet phrases start things off on "Saguache" before Knuffke joins in, Goldberg giving him enough room to find his bearings alongside Goldberg's dancing swirls, as the two begin their communicative exchange in earnest. One thing that becomes evident right off the bat is the players' willingness to cede ground to their counterpart, only responding when it enhances the overall product. There is ego on display here, of course-these guys are masters at their craft-but they are more eager to let each piece develop its independent logic together than to try to seize the upper hand and dominate the conversation. The resulting music is remarkably empathetic and collegial; one can tell these musicians really enjoy working with each other.
Contrasts are sometimes present, as on "Blue River," where Goldberg and Knuffke alternate in playing fleet phrases while the other offers languid interjections. And there are some tender moments too, with the somber beauty of "Ouray" allowing for a reflective reverie. But the most exciting moments occur when the two join together as one in jaunty, rhythmic rapport. "Rocky Ford" may offer the best example, as a piece that begins with a pensive, tuneful opening gradually builds in dynamic energy, both players' elongating their lines together and heightening their rhythmic interaction until the music positively swings. There's as much New Orleans as downtown New York on this record, something one rarely finds among "avant-garde" outings.
Perhaps the only downside to the album is the excessive brevity of some of the tracks-five are two minutes or shorter-where ideas emerge and fade before they fully ripen. But on the other hand, there's no filler here either, as neither Goldberg nor Knuffke is interested in gratuitous meandering. The music is played with purpose, and with a generous spirit, making for a fine recording and another first-rate entry in both players' impressive discographies."-Troy Dostert, All About Jazz
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Recordings featuring brass instruments - trumpets, trombones, tubas, other horns
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