Kirk Knuffke Quartet – Big Wig (CF 107)
Since moving to New York from his native Colorado in 2005, the trumpeter Kirk Knuffke has found solid footing: he works with both the avant-garde composer
Butch Morris and the pop tunesmith Josh Ritter, and he’s a member of Ideal Bread, a collective devoted to the music of Steve Lacy. But Mr. Knuffke hadn’t released his own album until “Big Wig,” now out on the Portuguese label Clean Feed (cleanfeed-records.com).
If he was taking his time on purpose, more power to him, because this is a smartly self-assured debut, stocked with appealingly scrappy original tunes. Mr. Knuffke connects deeply with the trombonist Brian Drye, and likewise with the bassist Reuben Radding and the drummer Jeff Davis. Together these musicians make “Big Wig” feel more rugged than heady, steeped in free-jazz protocols but organized like a hard-bop