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Kunsman, Hinton and Bunch Releases

I’d never heard of Roman Kunsman until Wednesday, when one of his CDs showed up among the many discs received every day at the mighty JT. It’s great. It’s a Downtown Sound label disc called Heavy Skies, and it came packaged with three other CDs that are on Downtown Sound’s partner label, Chiaroscuro (more on those discs below).

Kunsman, who died in 2002, was a Russian-born reedist and Heavy Skies appears to be his only leader date. He plays flute and alto sax over tabla, drums, bass and Sun Ra-like keyboards. It’s highly reminiscent of the myriad Eastern-influenced discs that were rolling out like mad in the ’70s (it is a 1979 recording), but it also has that electronic thing going on. This is actually the album’s first release, I wonder if jazz crit champ Nat Hentoff ever got paid for the liner notes he wrote for the album in 1979, which are included with the CD.

The three Chiaroscuro records we received are a pair of discs featuring late bassist Milt Hinton and a new record by pianist John Bunch. The Basement Tapes is a collection of Hinton recordings from 1989 and 1990 made at MRC Recording Studio in New York with folk like Warren Vache, Kenny Davern, Frank Wess and Howard Alden. These sessions came about when Hinton’s autobiographical photography book, Bass Lines, started to turn a profit. He put his money back into the music. Right on.

The Trio is the other CD with Hinton on it, and as the title suggests, this reissue of a 1977 LP is a trio recording. Pianist Hank Jones and drummer Bobby Rosengarden make up the rest of the group. There are a few Trio originals in the program, plus a few standards like “S’Wonderful” and “I’ll Remember April.”

The John Bunch CD, An English Songbook, is a solo piano session that confirms the pianist’s Anglophilia. The songs are all penned by Brits like Noel Coward and Ray Noble.

Originally Published