Monday, May 14, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico Reeds- Steve Kuhn Live In NYC- Wisteria.

~ I went to one of my favorite NYC jazz clubs Friday night to hear jazz icon Steve Kuhn. He was supporting his new ECM release Wisteria.
I have been a fan of Steve Kuhns from day one, I found a record of his with Gary McFarland back in my high school days called the " October Suite" and have been listening to him ever since. He's a master player, composer and traveler of the music.
The wise and wistful title track of "Wisteria", written by Art Farmer, takes us back to the early 60s, when both Steve Kuhn and Steve Swallow sang softly of the blues in the trumpeter-fl├╝gelhornist's band. Swallow was also a member of the trio Kuhn formed shortly thereafter: they've shared a lot of history since then. Steve Swallow played on Kuhn's 1974 classic "Trance" while Kuhn contributed to Swallow's "Home" and "So There" in 1979 and 2005 respectively. Swallow and Kuhn after a half-century of collaborations indeed know each other's playing well; in accord at a very high level, they share the same love of melody, and develop their improvisational ideas together.Surprising,the recording of "Wisteria", marked the first occasion that Kuhn, Swallow and Baron had ever played in trio together.
For those in the saxophone seat here-Trivia: Steve Kuhn was John Coltrane's first pianist in the famous 'Jazz Gallery' quartet with drummer Pete La Roca and bassist Steve Davis. Steve Kuhn is someone you have to hear. He has that essence that IS history, and commands your ear. Heis an excellent voice in the history of the music. Also- from the saxophone seat; he studied with as a young man in Boston Madan Chaloff. Baritone Saxophone legend Serge Chaloffs mother. Who was a fantastic Bostonian piano teacher, teaching many of todays great players from Steve and Chick Corea on.
~ HEARING LIVE MUSIC IS A MUST. It's essential, and something, not only that demands your attention but you have to study the pianists, drummers, bassists and other instruments as well as you instrument.For instance- Steve Swallow's acoustic bass playing helped define the sound of the Jazz of the 1960s in contexts including the Jimmy Giuffre 3, the Paul Bley Trio, the George Russell Sextet (with Eric Dolphy), and the Gary Burton Quartet. In 1970, Swallow reinvented himself as electric bass guitar player and has been yet more influential in this capacity. A member of all Carla Bley's ensembles for more than 30 years, he co-directs the WATT label with her, and continues to lead his own bands and projects. His most recent release under his own name was the collaboration with Robert Creeley "So There", with Steve Kuhn on piano. A new Swallow Quintet disc (featuring Carla Bley, Chris Cheek, Steve Cardenas and Jorge Rossy), is in preparation from ECM/XtraWatt.Joey Baron-Joey Baron's ECM recordings include a series of discs with John Abercrombie: "Class Trip", "Cat'n'Mouse", "The Third Quartet", "Wait Till You See Her" and the brand-new "Within A Song" (recorded the same week as "Wisteria"). Other appearances for the label include John Taylor's "Rosslyn", Bill Frisell's "Lookout for Hope" and Marc Johnson's "Shades of Jade". He has also toured and recorded very extensively (several dozen albums) with John Zorn and played with numerous jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, Lee Konitz and many more. With Tim Berne and Hank Roberts he co-led the group Miniature, and he has also directed his own groups Killer Joey and Baron Down. You haveto make it your business to know these things, in order to not only play this music but to be a part of creating it.You got to know who the cats are! ( smile)
The two sets I heard Friday, were amazing. Everything was happening and it was very inspiring.I've heard Steve Kuhn many times before and always walked away feeling happy that I had the chance to hear such a great dedicated master. His comping to me is so advanced yet so logical it's just beautiful. I'm going to try to transcribe some of his left hand comping later today, and see what that is about. Talk about a power trio!
It's no secret when you think of it because Kuhn's career found him moving in exceptional company while still a teenager: he accompanied Chet Baker, Coleman Hawkins and Vic Dickenson in the clubs of Boston. At the Lennox School of Music he played in a band with Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. He was in Kenny Dorham's group for two years, and then became, briefly and famously, the first pianist of the John Coltrane Quartet (an experience recalled in Kuhn's "Mostly Coltrane" album). After Coltrane came Stan Getz in a line-up with Scott LaFaro. At the end of the 1960s, Kuhn spent four years living in Europe, mostly in Scandinavia where his performance had a significant impact upon local players. I left Birdland inspired, and will go hear Steve anytime he plays NYC or any place I'm near. He's worth the time and listen. He takes your mind and ears on a great trip and there is no pianist in jazz like him. Now or then! Check out his new ECM recording and support live music.
Till next week- enjoy your music and keep on. ~ Tim Price

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