KUHN FU – TANTALOS
KUHN FU – TANTALOS
What on earth is that then? A guitar that sounds as if Metallica’s Sandman is creeping round the corner; over it a first cautious but ever increasing big-band wind set, with grooving drums and rock guitar intervening.
Jazz sensitivity and hard cutting rock interchange in the last six minutes of the track „Tantalos„. And continually reassemble.
In the album „TANTALOS“, Kuhn Fu, based around the guitarist Christian Kühn, still sits, where the ensemble has no doubt felt most comfortable since 2012, between all stools. This applies not only to the entire jazz-rock complex – for rock music too much jazz, for jazz too much rock – but also to the consistent rebuttal of a pallid musical seriousness. Big-band, hard rock, metal, punk and symphonic music are central (and equal) inputs.
In case of doubt, Kühn’s compositions turn to humour. The second piece on „TANTALOS“ for example, „Mustapha Bronco“ is held together by a beer-bar wind set over which guitar, clarinet and saxophone play short and very beautiful melodies and solos – one after the other.
This is followed by a sketch („Slacker’s Fanfare„) and a ballad that is reminiscent of the more melancholic piece by Ennio Morricone („Shattered„). The album ends with „Kit Kat Kuhn“ and thus with five-minutes of polka-funk.
The title piece „Tantalos“ has been nominated for the German Jazz Prize 2023 as a „composition of the year“. The jury heard „impressive and powerful music, initially slowly and unobtrusive, which then suddenly develops in its full richness“ and saw an „almost Zappa-like approach“. But of course there is still more. Christian Kühn (guitar, composition), Kelly O’Donohue (trumpet), Edith Steyer (alto saxophone, clarinet), John Dikeman (tenor saxophone, bass saxophone), Jason Liebert (trombone, sousaphone), Ziv Taubenfeld (bass clarinet), Sofia Salvo (baritone saxophone), Esat Ekincioglu (e-bass), and George Hadow (drums) form an international ensemble, put together here by Christian Kühn, which compresses many influences and references into a confined space. The EP „Tantalos“ alone lasts 22 minutes, in which more ideas, romanticism and theatricality ring through than is usual with other jazz ensembles on complete albums. „Play tonally and then overstated, that’s what it’s all about,“ says Kühn. „That’s why it always sounds like parody.“
The music of Kuhn Fu is not only amusing; as, for example, Frank Zappa’s music was never just amusing. A perfectly co-ordinated band, with collective drive, develops music that, as such, has not yet been heard, including, not least, beautiful melodies: it is comic and always silly, but never sacrifices its elegance to slapstick.