Knuffke Stacken Duo

Kirk Knuffke with Jesse Stacken

Photo by Scott Fiedlander

About The Knuffke / Stacken Duet

I met Jesse is 2006 while playing with Jeff Davis and Michael Bates. He mentioned that he was practicing Thelonius Monk’s music. In Denver, before I moved to NYC, I had been playing duets of Monks music with pianist Geoff Cleveland. So,I approached Jesse about getting together as a duo to play Monk’s music and he agreed. Since then, our long standing duo has expanded to include other composers and projects. 

Jesse and I have recorded Five CDs:

Jesse and I have recorded four CDs as a duo for Denmark’s esteemed SteepleChase record label and we have also recorded one trio CD where we are joined by the fabulous drummer Kenny Wollesen.

“Cornetist Kirk Knuffke and pianist Jesse Stacken last teamed up on records for a CD of Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington songs. On Orange Was The Color, they create fresh renditions of 11 Charles Mingus compositions. Mingus' music benefited from a wide range of tone colors, unusual dissonances and emotional playing, but the Knuffke- Stacken duet casts new light on his work by placing it in a very different context. While they hint at earlier versions, obviously their renditions are not as dense or complex as some of the originals. They picked out some of Mingus' more beautiful melodies (many from the 1957-58 period), and put their own feelings into the themes. Among the highlights are “Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love,” “Celia,” “Peggy's Blue Skylight,” “So Long Eric” and “Ecclusiastics.” This fine set, available from, is easily recommended.”
-Scott Yanow