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Steve Kuhn

Steve Kuhn

American pianist
The basics
Occupations Pianist Jazz musician
Countries United States of America
Gender male
Birth March 24, 1938 (Brooklyn)
Education Harvard University
Authority Discogs id ISNI id Library of congress id Musicbrainz id VIAF id
The details

Steve Kuhn (born March 24, 1938, Brooklyn, New York City) is an American jazz pianist, composer and trio leader.


Kuhn began studying piano at the age of five and studied under Boston piano teacher Margaret Chaloff, mother of jazz baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff, who taught him the "Russian style" of piano playing. At an early age he began improvising classical music. As a teenager he appeared in jazz clubs in the Boston area with Coleman Hawkins, Vic Dickenson, Chet Baker, and Serge Chaloff.

After graduating from Harvard, he attended the Lenox School of Music where he was associated with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and Gary McFarland. The school's faculty included Bill Evans, George Russell, Gunther Schuller, and the members of the Modern Jazz Quartet. This allowed Kuhn to play, study, and create with some of the most forward-thinking innovators of jazz improvisation and composition; it culminated with his joining trumpeter Kenny Dorham's group for an extended time and (briefly) John Coltrane's quartet at New York's Jazz Gallery club.

Kuhn also has appeared with Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Oliver Nelson, Gary McFarland, Ron Carter, Scott LaFaro, Harvie Swartz, vocalist Shelia Jordan, Billy Drummond, David Finck, and Miroslav Vitous. From 1967 to 1971 Kuhn moved to Stockholm, Sweden where he worked with his own trio throughout Europe. In 1971 Kuhn moved back to New York City and formed a quartet but continued doing European gigs and appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival.

In his early years, Kuhn was known as an avant-garde jazz pianist. He was associated with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca during the 1960s on several notable recordings: Three Waves, under Kuhn's leadership; Basra, under La Roca's leadership, which also featured Joe Henderson; and Sing Me Softly of the Blues under flugelhornist Art Farmer's leadership. Also notable was Kuhn's inclusion in the quartet on the landmark recording Sound Pieces led by saxophonist, composer, and arranger Oliver Nelson and including Ron Carter on bass and Grady Tate on drums. Among other critically acclaimed recordings there was The October Suite composed by Gary McFarland for Kuhn and an ensemble which included strings, woodwinds, and reeds. The Promises Kept album features Kuhn's compositions, piano, and strings.

For decades, Steve Kuhn has led all-star trios that have included such players as bassists Ron Carter and David Finck, and drummers Al Foster, Jack DeJohnette, and Joey Baron. He has had several live recordings made in some of New York's leading jazz clubs. Kuhn is also the composer of the jazz standard "The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers".


As leader

  • 1963 The Country and Western Sound of Jazz Pianos with Toshiko Akiyoshi (Dauntless)
  • 1966 Three Waves (Contact)
  • 1966 The October Suite with Gary McFarland (Impulse!)
  • 1968 Watch What Happens! (MPS) also released as Steve Kuhn in Europe (Prestige)
  • 1969 Childhood Is Forever (Charly/BYG Actuel)
  • 1971 Steve Kuhn (Buddah)
  • 1972 Steve Kuhn Live in New York (Cobblestone) also released as Raindrops (Muse)
  • 1974 Ecstasy (ECM)
  • 1974 Trance (ECM)
  • 1977 Motility (ECM)
  • 1978 NonFiction (ECM)
  • 1979 Playground (ECM) with Sheila Jordan
  • 1981 Last Year's Waltz (ECM)
  • 1984 Mostly Ballads (New World) with Harvie Swartz
  • 1986 The Vanguard Time (Owl Time Line)
  • 1986 Life's Magic (Black Hawk)
  • 1988 Porgy (Jazz City)
  • 1988 Porgy (Evidence) with Eddie Gómez, Buster Williams, Al Foster
  • 1990 Oceans in the Sky (Owl)
  • 1990 Looking Back (Concord)
  • 1990 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall. Volume 13 (Concord)
  • 1992 Years Later (Concord) with David Finck, Lewis Nash
  • 1995 Remembering Tomorrow (ECM) with David Finck, Joey Baron
  • 1995 Seasons of Romance (Postcards) with Tom Harrell, Bob Mintzer, George Mraz, Al Foster
  • 1998 Dedication (Reservoir) with David Finck, Billy Drummond
  • 1998 Love Walked In (Venus) with Buster Williams and Bill Stewart
  • 1999 Countdown (Reservoir)
  • 2000 The Best Things (Reservoir)
  • 2004 Promises Kept (ECM) with Carlos Franzetti
  • 2007 Live at Birdland (Blue Note) with Ron Carter and Al Foster
  • 2009 Mostly Coltrane (ECM) with David Finck, Joey Baron, and guest Joe Lovano
  • 2012 Wisteria (ECM) with Steve Swallow and Joey Baron
  • 2013 The Vanguard Date (Owl) with Ron Carter and Al Foster
  • 2016 At This Time (Sunnyside) with Steve Swallow and Joey Baron


  • 2009 Life's Backward Glances (ECM): Solo Piano, Trios, and Quartets with Steve Slagle or Sheila Jordan

As sideman

  • 1960 Kenny Dorham: Jazz Contemporary (Time)
  • 1961 Stan Getz: Recorded Fall 1961 (Verve) with Bob Brookmeyer, Roy Haynes
  • 1963 Stan Getz & Laurindo Almeida: Stan Getz With Guest Artist Laurindo Almeida (Verve)
  • 1965 Art Farmer: Sing Me Softly of the Blues (Atlantic)
  • 1965 Pete La Roca: Basra (Blue Note)
  • 1966 Oliver Nelson: Sound Pieces (Impulse!)
  • 1966 Pee Wee Russell and Henry "Red" Allen: The College Concert (Impulse!)
  • 1967 Don Heckman and Ed Summerlin: The Don Heckman-Ed Summerlin Improvisational Jazz Workshop (Ictus)
  • 1968 Lee Konitz, Pony Poindexter, Phil Woods and Leo Wright: Alto Summit (MPS)
  • 1979 Steve Swallow: Home (ECM)
  • 1981 David Darling: Cycles (ECM)
  • 1991 Steve Swallow: Swallow (XtraWATT)
  • 1997 Sheila Jordan: Jazz Child (HighNote)
  • 2013 Tisziji Munoz: Incomprehensibly Gone (Anami)

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