Steve Kuhn Trio: Wisteria (ECM/Ode)

Steve Kuhn Trio: Pastorale
Steve Kuhn Trio: Wisteria (ECM/Ode)

Elegance in piano playing is usually the description reserved for the exclusive use of reviewers about Bill Evans, but here Steve Kuhn makes a strong claim on thoughtful pieces such as the title track, Romance and the lovely Pastorale where (I am guessing, my CD came with no cover) bassist Steve Swallow plays a soft and enticing guitar-like melody.

In fact, if it weren't for Joey Baron's geometric and impulsive/propulsive drumming in places, much of this album might have come from the late Fifties/earlySixties at that interface of melodic piano trio balladry and hard bop.

As with so many of the great piano trios -- where intuitive understanding is obligatory -- these players have known each other for decades. Kuhn and Swallow go back to the Sixties themselves (when they were in Art Farmer's band whose tune is the title track here), and Baron and Kuhn played together on the more recent Mostly Coltrane album which was acclaimed at Elsewhere three years ago here

The surprising thing is then, this is the first time this particular trio has recorded together, and -- with Kuhn being 74 -- you have to wonder what took them so long.

The result are often quietly spectacular and certainly enticing. Consider the understatement on the delightful Morning Dew which swings like a New York clubland scene in '62 when Sammy Davis Jnr and others of the cooler-than-thou school are in the room.

Incidentally, Baron was on this session the same week as he worked with guitarist John Abercrombie on the equally elegant Within a Song

Kuhn explores some of his earlier compositions (notably Adagio, Pastorale and Promises Kept which he previously recorded with strings) but in this company everything come up fresh and sounding like a newly minted classic album.

Old school yes, but a sheer delight.

Like the sound of this? Then start your further listening here.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Marc Johnson, Elaine Elias: Swept Away (ECM/Ode)

Marc Johnson, Elaine Elias: Swept Away (ECM/Ode)

Longtime followers of the ECM label will register that this one ticks any number of the right boxes: the line-up of pianist Elaine Elias, bassist Marc Johnson, drummer Joey Baron (a working trio in... > Read more

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

This album under the name of mutli-culti French drummer Katche (who has worked with Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Joe Zawinul, Al Di Meola,  Sting, Tori Amos, Tomasz Stanko,  Peter Gabriel... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Various Artists: Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah; 70s New York Disco (Backbeats/Triton)

Various Artists: Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah; 70s New York Disco (Backbeats/Triton)

Some music -- even from the first few bars -- is time-specific. The merest whiff of a particular drum sound and guitar can conjure up rockabilly of the Fifties, and some beats plus swooping strings... > Read more

PINK FLOYD, PART TWO 1972 - 83: After Dark to the unkindest Cut

PINK FLOYD, PART TWO 1972 - 83: After Dark to the unkindest Cut

Despite the textual analysis possible on Wish You Were Here in 1975 and the gargantuan theatrics of The Wall (a largely unlistenable album and often as dull as its cover), it is always The Dark... > Read more