Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Crucial Kuhn: Five Essential Albums by Steve Kuhn

Thomas Conrad selects highlights from an extensive discography

Life's Backward Glances by Steve Kuhn
Pastorale by Steve Kuhn
Promises Kept by Steve Kuhn
Quiéreme Mucho by Steve Kuhn
Wisteria by Steve Kuhn

Life’s Backward Glances (ECM, 2009)
This remastered three-CD set, with three long-out-of-print ECM albums from the ’70s, is a bargain but not perfect. Sheila Jordan’s voice is buried in the mix on Playground. Motility, with Steve Slagle’s shrieking saxophones, is a challenging work even for open-minded listeners. But the collection displays the range of Kuhn’s early interests, and Ecstasy is a lost classic. It belongs with early ECM improvised solo-piano masterworks by Jarrett, Corea and Bley.

Quiéreme Mucho (Sunnyside, 2005)
Kuhn has made more than 10 valuable recordings on the Japanese Venus label, a vast jazz-piano repository. Quiéreme Mucho, recorded in 2000 and reissued on Sunnyside, is not exactly his Spanish album. All the tunes are staples of the Latin American songbook, but Kuhn reimagines them on his own North American terms. “Andalucia” (“The Breeze and I”) becomes hard, angular bop. The bittersweet ballad “Bésame Mucho” becomes quick and witty.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published