This is straightahead jazz but with a distinct edge. The Europe-based KUH Trio take their acronymic moniker from the first letters of their respective family names. All three, as witnessed here, are undoubted masters of their respective instruments. The trio met by chance whilst playing at the Most & Jazz Festival at Fehring, Austria in 2018 and decided to play together on a “case-by-case” basis.
Whilst these musicians are relatively unknown outside Mitteleuropa, they all boast impressive résumés. Guitarist Edi Köhldorfer, who hails from Austria, studied classical guitar at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. He’s played with gypsy jazz maestro Biréli Lagrène, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland.
Czech bassist František Uhlír graduated from the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. He’s performed with a large number of renowned names including Benny Bailey, Dusko Goykovich, Palle Mikkelborg, Dave Weckl and Phil Woods. Drummer Jaromír Helešic is one of the most in-demand jazz musicians in the Czech Republic. He’s collaborated with virtually all jazz the musicians in Prague. Uhlír and Helešic both play in the similarly named MUH Trio, with Italian pianist Roberto Magris fronting the group.
The opening to Mainart channels the famous theme in Johnny Mandel’s The Shadow Of Your Smile and equals it in poignancy. The title track is a stately blues replete with soulful bent notes on guitar. The boppy KUH Monk is a memorable and catchy tribute to the great Thelonious showcasing Köhldorfer’s seemingly effortless, lightning-fast guitar work.
There’s a feeling of raw spontaneity about the recording of these all-original compositions, which is hardly surprising considering that the trio went into the studio on their day off from the group’s tour of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Often raw it may be, but rough and ready it is not. Amongst the coruscating electric jazz there are also frequent interspersions of elegant sensitivity, denoted by delicate finger-picked acoustic guitar and arco bass. There’s a great deal of all-round virtuosity on offer here, which seems to continuously reveal itself with repeated plays.
Just For Us; Mainart; O Samba Boemio; Old Souls; You Are Never At Home; Maybe Later; KUH Monk; From Heart To Heart; Game III; Jaro (57.30)
Edi Köhldorfer (elg,g); František Uhlír (b); Jaromír Helešic (d). Place unknown, 2019.
ATS Records CD-0955