Steve Kuhn

Life's Magic

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Steve Kuhn leads an all-star trio with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster in this compilation of 1986 performances recorded over several nights at the Village Vanguard. First issued on Black Hawk and subsequently re-released in 2012 with a new cover, this is one of the many highlights of the pianist's vast discography. Opening with a spry, playful take of "Little Old Lady," Kuhn follows with his loping, bluesy "Two by Two" and Fats Waller's lyrical "Jitterbug Waltz," the latter showcasing Carter's intricate bass and Foster's light touch with brushes. His brisk setting of "Yesterday's Gardenias" (a song recorded by Glenn Miller in the 1940s) takes it far from its roots, turning this ballad into an engaging post-bop vehicle. The pianist's "Mr. Calypso Kuhn" puts the spotlight on Foster, opening with an intense solo, followed by the addition of Carter and, finally, the leader. Kuhn's luxurious, spacious take of "Never Let Me Go" conveys the song's message even without its lyrics. The disc closes with an extended workout of "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" that leaves the entranced audience wanting more.

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