Steve Kuhn has excelled in many settings in a career spanning over five decades, but he is at his best leading a trio. Like many top pianists, Kuhn interacts with his musicians rather than relegating them exclusively to the role of accompanists. By the time of this 2011 record date, he had worked with bassist Steve Swallow at various times for over a half-century and with drummer Joey Baron for over 20 years, but this marked their first recording together as a trio. Swallow's sublime lyrical bass is always a welcome addition, while Baron has contributed to recordings by a diverse range of stylists. Kuhn contributed many of the songs, highlighted by his lyrical samba "Adagio" and the glistening, light-hearted "Morning Dew." He also revisits several of his best compositions recorded for previous projects: the lush ballad "Romance," the whispered "Pastorale" with Swallow playing lead in the introduction as Kuhn plays soft chords behind him and Baron's light touch on brushes providing the perfect accent, along with the mellow yet hip "Promises Kept." Swallow's compositions are frequently used by leaders with whom he works. His "Dark Glasses" opens with a mysterious air but shifts quickly into a bright bossa nova. One can only imagine the inspiration for the title to "Good Lookin' Rookie," and this breezy number doesn't disappoint, with Kuhn's driving piano and Swallow's intricate bass solo, along with Baron's drum breaks. Highly recommended!
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden