STEVE KUHN, WISTERIA

Pianist Steve Kuhn approaches music with the respectful notion that one needs to weave an emotional thread through a song, so whether he’s playing a standard or tunes from his own memorable playbook, his musical language has a remarkable capacity to connect deeply with the listener. Classically trained, Kuhn has had an illustrious career performing in groups led by trumpeters Kenny Dorham and Art Farmer and notably in the early 60’s, when he briefly played in John Coltrane’s soon-to-be legendary quartet, but quit to join Stan Getz’s band. As a leader, there’s much to treasure in Kuhn’s solo recordings, especially those for Concord, ECM and the Reservoir label.    

“Wisteria” is a trio recording, a combo where Kuhn shines, and it’s enriched by unexpected tune choices as much as the lively accompaniment by bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron, both of whom individually share a history with Kuhn but make their debut as a unit here. On this straight-ahead outing, Kuhn returns to the urbane, airy style of playing that recalls the rhythmic joys of albums by Bill Evans or McCoy Tyner. Kuhn revels in tunes from his own repertoire, as well as solid tracks composed by Swallow, Carla Bley and the title tune by Art Farmer. Modern sounding originals like “Chalet” bloom with melodic invention while the gorgeous “Morning Dew” is characterized by Swallow’s serpentine bass solo, deliciously tuneful, along with impressive tonal coloration by Baron who plays his kit with the subtlest of touches and just the right amount of kick-drum. Baron, who has played with the pianist in a variety of settings for more than 20 years, underscores the fast pitch of Kuhn’s “A Likely Story,” the album’s barnburner and most fun tune, with the kind of percussive fireworks that define drummers in his league.

If you like hearing a master at work as well as just plain, great piano jazz, “Wisteria” is among Kuhn’s best – it’s a terrific mainstream release with solid tunes, incomparable teamwork and an overall good feeling.  (11 tracks; 67:31 minutes)  

Kuhn, Swallow and Baron will celebrate the release of “Wisteria” with five nights of shows at New York’s Birdland club from May 8th to the 12th.

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JAZZ IN SPACE: STEVE KUHN, WISTERIA

Thursday, April 26, 2012

STEVE KUHN, WISTERIA

Pianist Steve Kuhn approaches music with the respectful notion that one needs to weave an emotional thread through a song, so whether he’s playing a standard or tunes from his own memorable playbook, his musical language has a remarkable capacity to connect deeply with the listener. Classically trained, Kuhn has had an illustrious career performing in groups led by trumpeters Kenny Dorham and Art Farmer and notably in the early 60’s, when he briefly played in John Coltrane’s soon-to-be legendary quartet, but quit to join Stan Getz’s band. As a leader, there’s much to treasure in Kuhn’s solo recordings, especially those for Concord, ECM and the Reservoir label.    

“Wisteria” is a trio recording, a combo where Kuhn shines, and it’s enriched by unexpected tune choices as much as the lively accompaniment by bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron, both of whom individually share a history with Kuhn but make their debut as a unit here. On this straight-ahead outing, Kuhn returns to the urbane, airy style of playing that recalls the rhythmic joys of albums by Bill Evans or McCoy Tyner. Kuhn revels in tunes from his own repertoire, as well as solid tracks composed by Swallow, Carla Bley and the title tune by Art Farmer. Modern sounding originals like “Chalet” bloom with melodic invention while the gorgeous “Morning Dew” is characterized by Swallow’s serpentine bass solo, deliciously tuneful, along with impressive tonal coloration by Baron who plays his kit with the subtlest of touches and just the right amount of kick-drum. Baron, who has played with the pianist in a variety of settings for more than 20 years, underscores the fast pitch of Kuhn’s “A Likely Story,” the album’s barnburner and most fun tune, with the kind of percussive fireworks that define drummers in his league.

If you like hearing a master at work as well as just plain, great piano jazz, “Wisteria” is among Kuhn’s best – it’s a terrific mainstream release with solid tunes, incomparable teamwork and an overall good feeling.  (11 tracks; 67:31 minutes)  

Kuhn, Swallow and Baron will celebrate the release of “Wisteria” with five nights of shows at New York’s Birdland club from May 8th to the 12th.

Labels: , , ,

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