“4.5 stars. Kuhn’s stirring, samba-like “Clotilde” and “Good Morning, Heartache” are standout tracks, making the best use of the pianist’s interactive emphatic left hand.” – Downbeat Magazine
On this Postcards Records album, “Steve Kuhn: Seasons of Romance”, the Jazz legendary pianist presents his sonorous music and passionate playing along with Tom Harrell, Bob Mintzer, Al Foster, and George Mraz. From the heartrending and definitive version of Quincy Jones’ “The Pawnbroker”, which features Bob Mintzer’s soulful saxophone musings, and the delicate and pensive rendering of “Romance”, to the moving portrait of lost love highlighting both Kuhn’s mastery of piano tone and his harmonic subtlety and sensitivity on “Good Morning, Heartache”, this recording from the Postcards Record Label explores all the nuances of love and all the seasons of romance we experience.
“Kuhn’s piano work has more than just vast fluency, harmonic imagination, and subtle intelligence; it has genuine grace. Best of all, his firm yet sensitive touch draws a luminous tone from his instrument…” – Stereophile
The legendary sound that emanates from the pristine touch of Steve Kuhn’s piano is an undeniable part of the lasting Jazz culture. Having performed in a band with Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, as the original pianist in the John Coltrane Quartet, or gigging in the United States and across Europe with notable Jazz masters such as Art Farmer, Stan Getz, and Chet Baker, Kuhn’s contribution to Jazz is undeniable. With this lush, passionate, and adept CD recording, entitled “Steve Kuhn: Seasons of Romance”, the masterful, wistful, and thoughtful musicality of this underappreciated pianist is eternally captured.
“Everything on this disk simply sings and swings.” – Jazz and Blues Report
|1. Six Gun||Bob Mintzer||4:57|
|2. Romance||Dori Caymmi||4:10|
|3. Visions of Gaudi||Tom Harrell||5:27|
|4. There is No Greater Love||Isham Jones and Marty Symes||9:12|
|5. The Pawnbroker||Quincy Jones and Jack Lawrence||5:57|
|6. Remember||Steve Swallow||6:03|
|7. Coltilde||Steve Kuhn||6:16|
|8. Good Morning, Heartache||Irene Higginbothom and Ervin Drake||5:33|
|9. Looking Back||Steve Kuhn||5:02|
Steve Kuhn: Piano
Tom Harrell: Trumpet
Bob Mintzer: Tenor sax
George Mraz Bass
Al Foster: Drums
Produced by: Ralph Simon
Executive Producer: Sibyl R. Golden
Total Time: 52:37 minutes
About Steve Kuhn:
Steve Kuhn has had an interesting career. A talented jazz pianist, he has worked in many types of settings through the years. He began classical piano lessons when he was five, studied with Madame Chaloff, and accompanied her son, baritonist Serge Chaloff, on some gigs when the pianist was 14. He freelanced in Boston as a teenager, graduated from Harvard, and moved to New York where he worked with Kenny Dorham’s group (1959-1960).
Kuhn was the original pianist in John Coltrane’s Quartet, playing for two months before McCoy Tyner succeeded him. He was with the bands of Stan Getz (1961-1963) and Art Farmer (1964-1966), lived in Europe (1967-1970), and then returned to the U.S. in 1971. Kuhn doubled on electric piano in the 1970s, recorded for ECM, and co-led a group with Sheila Jordan in the latter part of the decade. After a period playing commercial music, he formed an acoustic trio in the mid-’80s, which has been his main vehicle ever since. Steve Kuhn has recorded as a leader for Impulse (1966), Contact, MPS, BYG, Muse, ECM, Blackhawk, New World, Owl, Concord, and Postcards Records. – Scott Yanow
A highly regarded jazz pianist and composer, Steve Kuhn is known for his sophisticated ear for harmony and lyrical, motivic approach to improvisation. Emerging from the Boston jazz scene of the late ’50s, he gained early exposure playing with legends like Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane and Art Farmer. He came to wider prominence in 1966 with his albums Three Waves, with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca. This led to a series of highly regarded albums for ECM including 1974’s Trance, with Swallow and drummer Jack DeJohnette. An adaptive, forward-thinking performer, his subsequent albums have found him moving across various genres, from swinging acoustic post-bop to classical-influenced chamber jazz and the avant-garde.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938 to Hungarian immigrant parents, Kuhn first became interested in music at a young age while listening to his father’s jazz record collection on 78s. Starting piano lessons at age five, he quickly displayed his gift for perfect pitch. After moving to Boston with his family, Kuhn began taking lessons with the legendary Boston-area pedagogue Margaret Chaloff, whom he credits with engendering his strong classical piano technique. Also, during this time, he befriended Chaloff’s son, saxophonist Serge Chaloff, who encouraged his interest in jazz.
By his teens, Kuhn had developed into an adept jazz pianist, influenced by the recordings of jazz luminaries like Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Fats Waller and Art Tatum. Even while attending Harvard, Kuhn held down a six-nights-a-week gig in Harvard Square and gained valuable experience working with the myriad jazz stars who came through the city, including Chet Baker, Coleman Hawkins. among others. After graduating Harvard, he continued his studies at the Lenox School of Music, where he rubbed shoulders with fellow students Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry and studied under esteemed jazz scholars like Gunther Schuller and George Russell. It was also while at Lenox that he met trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who hired the pianist for a year-long tour.
Parting ways with Dorham in 1960, Kuhn next joined legendary saxophonist John Coltrane’s quartet for a stint at New York’s Jazz Gallery. While brief (Kuhn was replaced by McCoy Tyner after eight weeks), the experience inspired him and would inform much of his later work.
In the late ’60s, Kuhn relocated to Stockholm, Sweden, where he lived and performed until 1971. Ironically, it wasn’t until returning to the States that he signed with Manfred Eicher’s’s then-fledgling European jazz label ECM. Notably, Kuhn’s work on The October Suite had been one of Eicher’s’s early inspirations in founding the label. With ECM, Kuhn released several probing and atmospheric albums.
In the ’80s, Kuhn continued to refine his sound, often playing in a trio with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster. Many of his albums from this period, showcase a mix of well-curated standards along with his inventive original compositions. It was a template that Kuhn would stick with throughout the next decade.
While the trio remained Kuhn’s preferred format, his album Seasons of Romance found him working in an all-star quintet with tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer and trumpeter Tom Harrell. Even more expansive was his 2004 return to ECM, which found him backed by a small string orchestra. Kuhn also retained his exploratory edge, returning to his love of classical composers like Debussy and Ravel and other Jazz reworkings of classical compositions. – by Matt Collar