Steve Kuhn: Song of Praise


Song Of Praise


Steve Kuhn (piano)


Mostly Coltrane (ECM 2099)

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Steve Kuhn (piano), Joe Lovano (tenor sax, tarogato), David Finck (bass), Joey Baron (drums).

Composed by John Coltrane


Recorded: December 2008


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

For his John Coltrane tribute album Mostly Coltrane, Kuhn primarily chose songs that are optimal vehicles for group interplay, a Coltrane Quartet hallmark. The relatively little-known but deeply spiritual “Song Of Praise” exemplifies that trait. Kuhn’s highly elongated phrases cast the appropriate, meditative mood. As he solos, he conserves his power for the peak of some well-conceived crescendos, revealing the classical traits of his early training. Part of Lovano’s artistry lies not in his unique tenor voice, but his unmatched ability to adapt his voice optimally to any given setting. In contrast to, say, his highly punctuated playing on his own Folk Art album, here he puts in very liquid lines. When he improvises, Kuhn all but lays out, leaving Lovano to create while remaining tethered to the melody. Joe delivers without breaking a sweat.

However, it’s Baron who is the biggest star of this show. He propulses this song into a wide orbit with shimmering cymbals, subtle fills, well-timed rumbles and bombs. And he does this without sounding much at all like Elvin Jones, perhaps because his tonality is brighter and his touch a tad lighter. Kuhn was briefly Coltrane’s pianist at the beginning of the saxophone legend’s solo career, but the sensitive reading of “Song Of Praise” he provides to one of his old boss’s later songs proves that he’s no less aware of the character of the music that came after his early time in that band.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron


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