Monday, May 7, 2012

Steve Kuhn Trio, Wisteria

Steve Kuhn's illustrious career as pianist-composer-bandleader has been rolling along for so long now that it might be easy to take him for granted. We shouldn't. Judging by his latest trio recording Wisteria (ECM B0016762-02) he is as vital as ever. The combination of refined harmonic-melodic sophistication and restrained fire is there still, and perhaps ever more so. Like Keith Jarrett, he owes something of his mature style to a Bill Evans influence. Unlike Jarrett, he incorporates these elements into a Steve Kuhn sensibility.

The trio is an excellent one: Kuhn with Steve Swallow's ever more singular electric bass and Joey Baron's swingingly dynamic drums. They give it all a great big push in a program of originals, other lesser-known jazz gems and a standard.

Steve's roots go way back of course, so you hear a touch of the line weaving of the great instrumentalists of the late '50s and early '60s. And again it is fully incorporated into the Steve Kuhn ethos.

Without indulging in excessive hyperbole I think it is fair to say that Mr. Kuhn remains at the top of the hill among changes-oriented jazz pianists active today. This album offers good evidence of that as it also gives you a program of piano trio sublimity that entertains and uplifts. Beautiful album!

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