Steve Kuhn Trio Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., July 5, 9 p.m. and Sat., July 6, 8 p.m. 2013

Few jazz musicians embody the rich tradition of the modern jazz piano trio better than the peerlessly tasteful Steve Kuhn, who plays with such subtlety and poise that he’s always fully integrated with his ensemble, even as a bandleader. In the early 60s he seemed destined for stardom: he was the original pianist in John Coltrane’s famous quartet, replaced by McCoy Tyner ten weeks into the group’s debut engagement (at New York’s Village Vanguard), and he worked fruitfully in groups led by trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist Stan Getz. He headed to Europe in the late 60s, and when he returned to New York about five years later he’d already begun settling into the gorgeous, thoughtful mainstream sound he’s finessed ever since—he writes lovely original compositions (heavy on the ballads) and imbues lesser-known standards with rhapsodic splendor. Most of his recordings have been trio sessions with consistently excellent sidemen, and last year’s crisp Wisteria (ECM), a marvel of melody that could serve as a template for Kuhn’s self-concealing sophistication, features drummer Joey Baron and bassist Steve Swallow (who appears alongside drummer Pete La Roca on Kuhn’s 1966 trio debut, Three Waves). Wisteria is easy to take for granted: you can tap your toes along to its sharp rhythms and bask in its pliant tunefulness without necessarily appreciating the level of mastery involved—all three musicians consistently find new ideas in the most familiar of forms. For this rare Chicago visit Kuhn is joined by fellow New Yorker Baron and Chicago bassist Eric Hochberg. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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