Primary Instrument: Piano
Achim Kaufmann (piano, composer, electronics) was born in Aachen, Germany, and has been living in Amsterdam since 1996.
He is involved in a number of different projects, some of them all improvised, some of them featuring his own compositions: His gueuledeloup quartet (with Michael Moore, John Hollenbeck, Henning Sieverts) melds elements of the free zone with tenderly executed dreamscape type passages (allaboutjazz) Their two CDs, Gueuledeloup (Red Toucan, 2002) and Double Exposure (Leo, 2000) have been called models of some of the finest forward-thinking chamber jazz coming out of Europe today.
The improvising trio of Achim Kaufmann, Frank Gratkowski and Wilbert de Joode has released two discs so far (on Konnex and on nuscope) and is currently preparing their third release of energetic, multi-layered improvised chamber music.
Trio Kamosc (with Michael Moore and Dylan van der Schyff) is another group that mixes composition and improvisation in unique ways, including blatantly traditional materials that are treated as found objects.
Achim currently works on repertoires for different piano trios which he will record during the course of the year.
Besides, he has written music for string quartet and works as a solo performer. In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious German SWR Jazz Award.
Coming from a musical family, Achim started getting interested in the piano, improvisation and composition at age 15 and also took clarinet lessons for a while. Later he attended the Cologne Conservatory where he studied with Frank Wunsch and Rainer Bruninghaus. In 1986, he received a scholarship for the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada to study and work with David Holland, Steve Coleman, Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Richie Beirach, and others. He also studied privately with Steve Lacy in Paris.
In the 80s and 90s, he worked in various bands and projects in the Cologne area and throughout Germany, covering a wide spectrum of musical genres - mainstream jazz, fusion, contemporary classical music, music for the theatre, free improvisation, and pop-influenced music.
Since the early 90s, Achim has focused more on writing music for his own groups (mostly trios) which led to his CD Weave, released in 1997. After his move to Amsterdam, he formed a quartet with reed player Michael Moore and percussionist John Hollenbeck.
In the last few years, he has also been increasingly active in the field of improvised music as documented on the trio CDs Kwast and Unearth with Frank Gratkowski and Wilbert de Joode.
A (mostly improvised) solo piano record entitled knives has been released on Leo Records in 2004. As a pianist, Achim strives to combine polyphonic pianism with subtly prepared and manipulated strings and interiors. Very recently, he has also added amplification and electronic processing to his vocabulary.
Achim has toured in most European countries, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S., and Eastern Africa.
He performed (often with his own projects or as co-leader) at renowned festivals, such as Europa Jazz (Le Mans), Guimaraes (Portugal), Jazzfest Berlin, International Jazz Festival Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Don Cherry Festival @ The Stone (NYC), Vilnius Jazz Festival, Ring Ring Festival (Belgrade), Interzone (Novi Sad), Manly Jazz Festival (Sydney, Australia), Festival de la Cite Lausanne, Ars Nova (contemporary music festival of SWR radio), Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Jazz Festival Frankfurt, post this/neo that (Cologne Philharmonic Hall), JazzHaus Festival Cologne, Leverkusener Jazztage, Northsea Jazz Festival, Zomer Jazz Fiets Tour (Groningen), SJU Jazz Festival (Utrecht), Tasten Festival (Berlin), Time Flies (Vancouver), Jazz Brugge, dOek Festival (Amsterdam), MusikTriennale Koln.
He has worked and recorded for most of the German radio/TV stations, and toured for the Goethe Institute.
Achim has also played and/or recorded with musicians from different backgrounds such as Han Bennink, George Lewis, Mark Helias, Tomasz Stanko, Steve Swallow, Chris Speed, Jim Black, Paul Lovens, Wolter Wierbos, Tristan Honsinger, Gerry Hemingway, Mark Dresser, Misha Mengelberg, Ab Baars, Tobias Delius, Le Quan Ninh, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Matthias Schubert, Lori Freedman, Peggy Lee, Paul Rutherford, Michael Vatcher, Mary Oliver, David Stackenas, Hasse Poulsen, Andy Moor, Bill Elgart, Dieter Manderscheid, Steve Arguelles, Richie Beirach, Al Foster, Adam Nussbaum, Bob Brookmeyer, Lee Konitz, Julian Arguelles, and many more.
As a sideman, he currently works with groups led by Joost Buis (Astronotes), Maartje ten Hoorn (Playstation 6), Peter Bolte, Manfred Brundl (Silent Bass), and Michael Moore (White Widow Quartet).