An eclectic, forward-thinking jazz ensemble, Planet Kniffen showcases the writing of drummer and bandleader Darryl Kniffen. The band released their debut effort Dreamland in April 2018, an album that showcased their cross-pollinated blend of post-bop and electric fusion.
In 2017, Kniffen formed his Planet Kniffen sextet as an outlet for his expansive compositional style, weaving in bits of jazz, rock, soul, and more. Joining him were several longtime associates, including trumpeter Dylan Canterbury, saxophonist Matthew Steckler, guitarist Shaun McCarthy, pianist Franz Robert, and bassist Jason Schwartz. After playing a slate of live shows, including appearances at the Easthampton Jazz Festival, Vermont Jazz Center, and Readsboro Arts Festival, they released their debut album Dreamland. Dreamland debuted at #5 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Album chart and #13 on the Billboard Jazz Album chart in May 2018.
Heavy grooves, soaring melodies, and dreamy soundscapes make a News From Planet Kniffen concert a wonderfully rich musical experience. In the music of Dreamland, the listener is invited to embark on a musical journey through mystery, passion, tranquility, and hope. Darryl Kniffen describes the debut effort as “an opportunity to enter a musical world. A world of beauty, complexity, and mystery.” Planet Kniffen has created a new sound that is distinct and exciting. The opening track “Blackness” has a raw, powerful energy and groove that just won’t quit. The second track “Peace Journey” dances through exciting, celebratory peaks and reflective, peaceful valleys. The singular ballad “Midnight Drive” is dreamy, hypnotic and spiritual in nature. The high-energy “Tick Tock” captures the fast-paced, frenetic energy of life through clock-like ostinatos and wild flights of improvisation. ?Jazziz Magazine writes ?"With one notable exception - a jazz interpretation of AC/DC's "Back in Black" - all compositions were penned by the drummer, who displays a range of inspirations and emotions across an evocative nine-song set. The cohesion of the musicians is apparent, and they seem locked in with one another musically and conceptually." Vermont Jazz Center’s Eugene Uman writes “when taken as a whole, Kniffen's music achieves a naturally balanced panorama that carefully juxtaposes, danceable grooves with dreamy landscapes, intense bebop-influenced instrumental outbursts with mind-calming pads. Kniffen's music is a manifestation of joy and deep reflection and it deserves to be heard. ”
About Darryl Kniffen
Prior to forming the group, Kniffen (an upstate New York native) studied at Crane School of Music, and embarked on a lucrative freelance and teaching career. Along with leading his own jazz group, he has performed with such artists as Emmy Award-winning guitarist/composer Freddi Shehadi, Chilean vocalist Natalia Bernal, pianist/composer Eugene Uman, SNL saxophonist Alex Foster, and others. Away from performing, he continues to work in education, teaching music courses at Stoneman Elementary in Pittsburg, CA. Before moving to California, he taught at Arlington Memorial High School and led the jazz ensemble at the SUNY Adirondack University. In 2016, he was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year from the University of Vermont.