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With so many major jazz labels shying away from signing veteran artists in favor of far less accomplished youngsters, it is refreshing to see Steve Kuhn finally leading his first Blue Note release. This live CD taped at New York City's Birdland, with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster, marks a reunion for this trio, following two separate recordings made (for Owl and Black Hawk) during an extended 1986 Village Vanguard gig and even reprising a pair of songs from each album.
Whether or not this particular trio has played together over the past twenty years, the magic is rekindled on stage, recorded over two nights with no rehearsals whatsoever. Kuhn's playful scoring of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz makes use of the full range of the keyboard, while his side-splitting quotes in the romp through Kenny Dorham's "Lotus Blossom include licks from "Eleanor Rigby and "Manteca. Carter's walking bass powers the driving setting of "Slow Hot Wind, while the elegant rendition of the bassist's romantic "Little Waltz hushes the room and showcases its composer's phenomenal chops on his instrument.
The explosive take of the bop favorite "Confirmation finds Kuhn venturing off into wild and dissonant improvisations at times. Throughout both evenings, Foster provides just the right touch, never overplaying his hand. Hopefully, there are plans for a follow up CD from these 2006 Birdland performances.
Track Listing: If I Were a Bell; Jitterbug Waltz; Two By Two; La Plus Que Lente/Passion Flower; Little Waltz; Lotus Blossom; Stella by Starlight; Slow Hot Wind; Clotilde; Confirmation.
Personnel: Steve Kuhn: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Al Foster: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.