May 24, 2024

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Play until you drop: Joachim Kühn: Photos, Video

In the 60s, the pianist Joachim Kühn was one of the most interesting jazz musicians in the GDR. He uses a music competition in the West to help raise funds and start an international career. Now he is 75 – and is not a bit tired.

Only a few European jazz musicians have been acting on such a creative level as Joachim Kühn for decades. Free jazz, jazz rock, post-bebop, preoccupation with classical music. Solo albums and over again: the piano trio.

“On the whole, I also see a logical development there and the end is still quite open.”

No matter what Joachim Kühn touches musically: his great personality, his striking way of playing the piano and his curiosity remain unmistakable. Despite all the freedom he takes, many things would not have been possible without his great discipline.

“We learned that from our father. Our father was an acrobat. If he was not on tour, they rehearsed every day (in the gym). And as a kid, I was often there with me. And when it started with piano, I had to practice every day – and I still do today.”

Картинки по запросу Joachim Kühn

Piano Competition in Vienna

Joachim Kühn’s 15-year-old brother Rolf had gone west in 1950 to become a saxophonist in the RIAS dance orchestra shortly thereafter. In the mid-sixties, Joachim Kühn retired to the West at about the same age, albeit in a different way. He used his participation in a piano competition in Vienna. West Germany subsequently became only a stopover for him.

“1968 – I was hardly in West Germany – I went to Paris. I had my first recording contract there, directly with Free Jazz. I was already playing with Jean-Francois Jenny Clarke and Aldo Romano. Later came Daniel Humair and that was the trio of my life, so to speak. The French also gave me that kind of confidence at the time. ”

The French not only had confidence in Joachim Kühn’s potential – they loved his game and to this day the pianist is in great demand in France.

After Kühn had managed to prevail in just a few years, he moved on. The next challenge: the USA. The Jazz Motherland.

“I came to California back then and wanted to see if I made it to the Billboard charts. And it worked twice – on the first two records.”

Картинки по запросу Joachim Kühn

In the right place at the right time

Joachim Kühn was in the right place at exactly the right time. While in Europe he was mainly a free jazzman and avant-gardist, he was able to try out how jazz and rock music go together in the USA and thus reach a large audience. The new electronics gave many impulses: Keyboards, Synthesizers – Joachim Kühn tried everything:

“That was interesting. Especially the volume. You could finally be as loud as a guitarist. And you could play long notes. That is not really possible with the piano. And there were many new sounds suddenly. You could create your own sound on the instrument. That was interesting for me for ten years. ”

But Joachim Kühn says today: The electronics is a closed chapter for him. For a long time he has focused entirely on the wing, which still offers enough opportunities to break new ground. After detours via Hamburg and again Paris, Kühn finally landed in Ibiza, where he still lives today.

“That has always been my dream. My dream was in Leipzig as a teenager: someday to live on an island where it is warm and there to make music and from there into the world and to play your music and to have a studio at home, where Jamsessions and recordings and anything creative can take place. Day and night. I like life there because I can improvise there 24 hours a day. To improvise my life, not just the music. I think you can improvise better when you see life the whole way. So the simple important dates I have in life are when I have a concert.”

“I can not get a pension, I have to play until I drop”
And of course 75 is not old in jazz. It goes on, on and on …

“I have to … I can not get a pension, I have to play until I drop.”

And how it works – to age in dignity and to continue to play creative music – has his brother Rolf, who turns 90 in September in September -: “Absolutely, I’ll take that as my role model too. I hope I can do the same as the Rolf. Rolf has always been a role model.”

Der Pianist Joachim Kühn spielt auf einer blau erleuchtenden Bühne an einem Flügel. (Getty Images / Christian Augustin)

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