Cornetist and composer Kirk Knuffke is one of modern jazz’s most skilled navigators of the divide between inside and outside, freedom and swing. On his latest album, Arms & Hands, he assembles the ideal trio to bridge that divide. Joined by bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bill Goodwin, along with special guests Brian Drye (trombone), Daniel Carter (alto saxophone), and Jeff Lederer (soprano/tenor saxophone), Knuffke creates a set of music that is both engaging and inventive.
Helias is best known for his work with jazz experimentalists like Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, and Gerry Hemingway, his band BassDrumBone with Hemingway and Ray Anderson, and his trio Open Loose with Tony Malaby and Tom Rainey. Goodwin, on the other hand, is recognized as a premiere straight-ahead drummer, through his decades-long relationship with saxophonist Phil Woods and credits that include such giants as Bill Evans, Tony Bennett, Dexter Gordon, Jim Hall, Gary Burton, and Art Pepper.
The chemistry between the trio is irrefutable on Arms & Hands, which is a showcase for the immense creativity of all three musicians. Knuffke intentionally wrote compositions that took advantage of Goodwin’s gift for groove and swing while remaining open enough to allow the improvisations to wander however far afield the moment might call for.
Kirk Knuffke is a prolific composer and improviser who has worked with a host of incredible musicians including Roswell Rudd, William Parker, Uri Caine, Myra Melford, Allison Miller, Steve Swell, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Billy Hart, Steven Bernstein, and Mary Halvorson. Internationally, he has played with ensembles at jazz festivals in Saalfeldan Austria, Willisau Switzerland, The North Sea Jazz festival in Holland, The Moers festival as well as festival dates in Canada, Mexico, Italy and France. He is currently a member of the Matt Wilson Quartet. Knuffke is also a member of the Mark Helias Quartet, the Andrew D’angelo Big Band, Josh Roseman’s Extended Constellations, Kenny Wollesen’s Wollesonic and Allison Miller’s Boom tic Boom. Knuffke’s leader debut, Big Wig, was released by Clean Feed in 2008, followed by the trio recordings Chew Your Food and Amnesia Brown and the quartet album Chorale. He has also recorded several duo CDs with pianist Jesse Stacken and one with percussionist Mike Pride, and co-led the collaborative trio Sifter with Mary Halvorson and Matt Wilson and a quartet with saxophonist Ted Brown.