Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn - Live In New York Cobblestone CST-9020 (1972)

Brooklyn-born Steve Kuhn was fascinated with jazz very early in his life. He began classical piano lessons at age five and soon began to "improvise and syncopate the classical repertoire."

In his early teens, Kuhn studied with legendary teacher Margaret Chaloff who schooled him in the "Russian Technique", an invaluable tool for tone production and projection. Chaloff's son, Serge, baritone saxophonist for Woody Herman, hired the 13 year-old pianist to play in his group. Throughout his teens Kuhn continued to play in Boston jazz clubs with visiting celebrities; Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker and Vic Dickenson.

After graduation from Harvard College, Kuhn attended the Lenox School of Music where he met and played in a group with fellow-students Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. The faculty included Bill Evans, George Russell, and Gunther Schuller. While at Lenox, Kuhn met trumpeter Kenny Dorham and began a two-year stint, interrupted when Kuhn was asked to join John Coltrane's newly-formed quartet.

Kuhn next joined Stan Getz's band, which included bassist Scott LaFaro. After a year with Art Farmer, he formed the first Steve Kuhn Trio, with drummer Pete LaRoca and bassist Steve Swallow. At the end of the 1960's he spent four years living in Europe, where his performances had a significant impact upon local players. Upon returning to the United States, Kuhn began his long-term affiliation with ECM, resulting in a string of important albums including Trance, Ecstasy, Non-Fiction and the collaborations with Sheila Jordan; Playground and Last Year's Waltz.

This may well be my favorite Steve Kuhn LP, a seldom documented but brilliant live performance that features the compulsive groover "Gloria's Theme", if you're not familiar with it then I envy your first listen.

Our leader's piano & electric piano are joined on this set by George Mraz on bass, Sue Evans on percussion and a stellar performance by Bruce Ditmas on drums.

1) Gloria's Theme
2) The Child Is Gone
3) The Real Guitarist In The House
4) The Saga Of Harrison Crabfeathers (aka Poem For No. 15)
5) Chicken Feathers
6) Ida Lupino
7) Raindrops, Raindrops
8) Thoughts Of A Gentleman

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