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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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STEVE KUHN TRIO

Wisteria

ECM 279 4578

 

 

1. Chalet
2. Adagio
3. Morning Dew
4. Romance
5. Permanent Wave
6. A Likely Story
7. Pastorale
8. Wisteria
9. Dark Glasses
10. Promises Kept
11. Good Lookin' Rookie

Steve Kuhn - Piano
Steve Swallow - Bass
Joey Baron - Drums
 

I had grown rather tired of the ECM label's recent output of what seemed like aleatoric music: musical doodling without much thought for melody, which is supposed to be one of the three essential ingredients of music. Thankfully this album is by musicians who value melody enough at least to suggest it in their playing. Admittedly some of the rhapsodic melodies are difficult to pin down, but you can sense some of the melodies from the chord sequences. Steve Kuhn is a pianist with a relaxed approach. He is not interested in flaunting the technique which he undoubtedly possesses. He is an exponent of "less is more" - and it works.

All three players know each other well, but this is the first time they have played as a trio. It is one of those trios where the three members are all integral to the music. This is evident in the opening Chalet, where Steve Swallow and Joey Baron both play solos - two each in fact - interspersed in Steve Kuhn's delicate piano statements. And Steve ends the track with gentle droplets of notes that make it seem as if the music can go on for ever. The pianist has a resourceful touch which can dispense soft, singing notes as well as forceful ones.

Steve Swallow's bass guitar underpins much of the music with deep, resonant notes as well as working in counterpoint with Steve Kuhn. At times, Swallow makes his bass sound like an ordinary guitar, which gives a new feeling to such tracks as Carla Bley's Permanent Wave and Steve Kuhn's Pastorale. Joey Baron's drums accentuate the mood of many tracks with appropriate cymbal work and occasional outbursts on the snare drum.

The tunes vary from such lyrical ballads as Romance and Art Farmer's title-track to up-tempo pieces like A Likely Story (where bass and drums solo simultaneously) and Good Lookin' Rookie (where Joey Baron's drum-breaks set the disc on fire). As with most ECM releases, the recording quality is first-class: clear and well-balanced.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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