Friday, July 17, 2009


Steve Kuhn
Pays Tribute to John Coltrane with
Mostly Coltrane

ECM Records is proud to announce pianist Steve Kuhn's most recent release, Mostly Coltrane. The album, which was released on July 7, pays tribute to legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and features David Finck on double-bass, Joey Baron on drums, with special guest Joe Lovano on tenor saxophone and tarogato. Kuhn and his collaborators re-channel the energies of the era in an album of astonishing invention and wild beauty, in a program of tunes that echo Coltrane's spirit.

Mostly Coltrane is a multi-faceted celebration of the magisterial music of Coltrane, presented by a player who was the original pianist in the Coltrane Quartet. At the end of 1959, when preparing to leave Miles Davis and commit himself to a career as a leader, the great saxophonist called upon Kuhn, bassist Steve Davis and drummer Pete La Roca to join him for live performances. "In January, February and March of 1960, I was privileged to work with John Coltrane at the Jazz Gallery in New York City", says Kuhn in his introductory note toMostly Coltrane. "This music reflects my deep respect for him."

On this recording, Kuhn and his fellow musicians, with Lovano at the very top of his form (rising to the considerable challenge of playing tenor sax on a Coltrane tribute), and Baron channelling and transforming the influence of Elvin Jones, explore the highways and byways of Coltrane's musical journey. In these performances, Kuhn not only returns to pieces he once played with Coltrane - "Central Park West", "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes", "I Want To Talk About You" - but follows Trane's story through to the end. Kuhn's extremely well-plotted tribute includes versions of material ("Jimmy's Mode", "Configuration") which only surfaced in 1994, nearly 30 years after Coltrane's death, on the posthumously-issued Stellar Regionsalbum assembled by Alice Coltrane.

The album opens, however, with "Welcome", from 1965's Kulu Sé Mama, of which Coltrane once wrote: "'Welcome' is that feeling you have when you finally reach awareness, an understanding, which you have earned through struggle. A welcome feeling of peace."

Steve Kuhn himself sounds so unlike either of the pianists most closely associated with Coltrane - Alice Coltrane or McCoy Tyner - that it is tempting to speculate on what might have been made, had his time with Coltrane been extended. But at 21, Kuhn was still finding his own musical directions, a prodigiously-talented pianist whose work was yet to find its artistic focus. With hindsight he can bring all his knowledge to bear on the material - and the results are riveting, as he develops his cogent musical arguments in a span from balladry to free playing.

The level of group understanding is as evident as the strength of the individual contributions. Although Joe Lovano is joining an established band here - Kuhn's long-running trio with David Finck and Joey Baron (whose Remembering Tomorrow album was recorded by ECM fourteen years ago) - there is never a sense of soloist-with-rhythm-section: this is a thoroughly-integrated quartet, which itself is a 'Coltranean' position, Coltrane Quartet music being amongst the first in post-bop jazz to make of the music more than the sum of its solos. This was a lesson not lost on the young Lovano (b. 1952) who grew up immersed in Coltrane's sound. His father, saxophonist Tony Lovano had jammed with Coltrane in Cleveland in the early 1950s. Joe learned to play by studying, with attention to detail, all subsequent stations on Coltrane's journey, and his involvement with the music has been a lifelong passion.

In the mid-1970s, shortly after moving to New York, Joe Lovano played with Rashied Ali. In 1997 he recorded with Elvin Jones in a trio program that already included Lovano's own tributes to Coltrane, and in our present century he has toured and recorded with McCoy Tyner, still monitoring his own growth as a mature artist with reference to Coltrane's circle.

Mostly Coltrane was recorded in New York's Avatar Studios in December 2008, engineered by James Farber and produced by Manfred Eicher.

*Click play button below to hear an excerpt from the album*

Steve Kuhn will also be performing at the Jazz Standard from August 13th - 16th with Steve Swallow (bass) and Al Foster (drums), and then at Birdland from September 23rd - 26th as part of the annual "Remembering Coltrane" celebration.

For press information, contact:
Tina Pelikan/ ECM
Don Lucoff/DL

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