“Amnesia Brown” Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Kirk Knuffke “Amnesia Brown” Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

4 Stars

Over the last couple years, New York trumpeter Kirk Knuffke has quietly emerged as one of the most exciting and flexible hornmen on the scene. On Amnesia Brown he pushes his music in yet another compelling direction. Joined by two of his cohorts in the Nublu Orchestra, Doug Wieselman and Kenny Wollesen, Knuffke shapes 16 pithy originals with an insistent accent on variety and concision.

When Wieselman plays clarinet there is a bracing polyphony to the proceedings, from the astringent harmonies and multi-linear improving on the title track to the Ornette Coleman-ish interactions on “Practical Sampling.” But when he picks up the guitar he dramatically alters the complexion on the music, giving it greater muscle, intensity and motion; he’s not a virtuoso on the instrument, shaping textured arpeggios, sharply barbed runs and tangled chords, but they give Knuffke plenty to chew upon. Despite the shifting landscapes, Knuffke maintains impressive restraint, shaping richly melodic solos that usually hover within his instruments midrange, both tonally and emotionally. Yet while he plays it cool, that doesn’t mean his performances are conservative; his lines are marked by tricky rhythmic schemes, unexpected loop-de-loops and curlicues, and sudden blurts. Wollesen does an excellent job pushing it all along. – Peter Margasak