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Steve Kuhn: Countdown

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This trio outing with David Finck, bass, and drummer Billy Drummond should please mainstream-modern piano fans. There’s a nice mix of standards, jazz tunes (from “When Lights Are Low” to “Four” to “Countdown”) to original writing. Some of the arranging is highly original and effective, like the blending of “Milestones” with “Speak Low,” and Kuhn’s solos are fluid and interesting; he certainly favors long lines and usually manages to make them build effectively. I can’t say that Kuhn has ever seemed to me to be a strongly original voice in terms of harmony, touch, or voicings, and occasionally he gets dangerously over-impressionistic. But some of the best originals here contain surprising moments and the soloing holds up well. Drummond is all you could ask for in an accompanist and Finck is a strong player, though the bass sound seems a little strange to me.