The Amsterdam-based international band Kuhn Fu describes itself as described as a paranoid prog-punk-jazz combo. Kuhn Fu celebrates its 10th anniversary with two albums – a live one, Live in Saalfelden, featuring all new compositions except two old band favorites, and a studio one, Jazz is Expensive, a new version of Brothers Grimm’s «The Fisherman and His Wife». The periodic-comic-fusionist musical vision of this band takes Frank Zappa to meet cabaret, let surf sounds and metal riffs ride the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, while William Shakespeare, Bertold Brecht and Monty Python act as the godfathers of this circus. In a way, Kuhn Fu rebels against what bandleader Christian Kühn calls the «Invisible Jazz Wall» that supposes to protect tradition from the vulgar, carnivalesque and nonsense. Kuhn Fu tears these walls down, like a modern-day version of the trombones of Jericho.
Kuhn Fu features four core members – German guitarist-vocalist Kühn, the main composer and lyricist and its master of ceremonies, Israeli bass clarinetist Ziv Taubenfeld, Turkish bassist Esat Ekincioglu and British drummer George Hado. It becomes a sextet in Live in Saalfelden with British clarinetist Tobias Delius and American tenor sax player John Dikeman, and a septet in Jazz is Expensive with the addition of Argentinian baritone sax player Sofia Salvo
Live in Saalfelden was recorded at Jazzfestival Saalfelden in Austria in August 2021. It presents Kuhn Fu in its most raw and energetic mode but also the most ironic and uplifting mode. Kühn’s hyperactive and dramatic melodies serve as starting points for enthusiastic improvisations that highlight the perfectly coordinated and powerful front line of three reeds players. The two loved, old pieces of Kuhn Fu – «Nosferatu» (originally from its debut album, Live At Atelier Il Sole In Cantina, Cantina, 2014) and «Maharani» (originally from Kuhnspiracy, Unit, 2017), receive exhilarating, theatrical arrangements here. «Last Tango of Harry Sanchez» (including the «Monologue» and the sequel «Return of Hans Schmitz») emphasizes Kühn’s comic ideas and concludes with the insightful saying that life itself is quite annoying.
On Jazz Is Expensive, Kühn tells the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale «The Fisherman and His Wife» in his own special way, The album was recorded at Zentrifuge Berlin in October 2021. The story is transformed into a carefully orchestrated, theatrical fairy tale that is told in English with a forced German accent. The main character, a fisherman named Marcel De Champignon, happens to be a French jazz horn player looking for the perfect melody, «the melody that makes millions», that would make him a mensch so he will not fear hunger or death. A talking fish named Bruno the Architect is supposed to fulfill his wish, but since the fish talks, De Champignon could not eat it, but the fish advises him to go to his «shithole», there he may find the sought-after melody. The website Illsebill.com (which leads to the Bandcamp page of Kuhn Fu) also plays a major role. This dramatic, nonsensical story is a sharp parody of the music industry in the era of social media, which eventually concludes that «jazz is expensive».
Christian Kühn (g, v), Tobias Delius (cl, ts), John Dikeman (ts, v), Ziv Taubenfeld (bcl), Esat Ekincioglu (b, v), George Hadow (dr)