Steve Kuhn: Mostly Ballads
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80351     Release Date: 1987-01-01

Steve Kuhn, piano; Harvie Swartz, bass

The fullness and clarity of the six solos and six duets that comprise Mostly Ballads set them apart from the typical encounter of post-Parker jazz musicians with "the tradition." Standard songs, once the improviser's training ground, fell out of favor in the sixties as jazz became freer on the one hand and more tolerant of rock on the other; far too many players viewed pop tunes merely as opportunities for broad comedy or rote displays of musicianship. But Steve Kuhn, a post-Parker improviser with a traditional jazz background, plays songs on Mostly Ballads like a man with nothing to prove, and those chosen for this recording have always held special meaning for him.

Despite the familiarity of most of the present material, Steve Kuhn doesn't sound like anybody but himself. This is the highest form of praise for any jazz artist, especially one like Kuhn, who appreciates the history of both his instrument and his material. Every enduring song asks a question that cannot be answered by an artist with melody, chords, or harmony alone: the ability to play "inside" a song is what separates a masterful interpreter from someone who just plays on "the changes."

To play the more familiar titles in this program, the Body and Souls and How High the Moons, is in a sense to have a score of illustrious predecessors looking over your shoulder, a range of touches, voicings, and rhythmic ebbs and flows that all feed into a pianist's sound. For Kuhn, it is also to confront compositions with their own particular resonance, beyond the interpretation of any given musician. His renderings of these songs call up fresh ideas, expressed through personal techniques, and the results are not only illuminating but refreshing.

Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn: Mostly Ballads

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CD-R+ titles come in a jewel case with print booklet.                         Liner Notes
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Track Listing

Body and Soul
Frank Eyton
Johnny Mercer
Lonely Town
Leonard Bernstein
Sonny Rollins
Tennessee Waltz
P King
Danny Boy
Fred Weatherly
'Round Midnight
B. Hanighen
Yesterday's Gardenias
Dick Robertson
Don't Explain
Billie Holiday
How High the Moon
Morgan Lewis
Lover Man
Jimmy Sherman
Two for the Road
Leslie Bricusse