I spoke with Steve Kuhn in 2004. The pianist had just released Promises Kept, which fulfilled Kuhn’s goal of recording a program of original compositions with a string ensemble. The record was a posthumous tribute to his parents Stella and Carl Kuhn. Bob Blumenthal, a close observer of Kuhn’s career for several decades, said that “in giving full reign to his emotions, Kuhn has created both his most personal and his most beautiful recording.”
Kuhn’s 76th birthday is March 24. He’ll be at Sculler’s in Boston on April 3 with his trio and a guest soloist, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. I would anticipate that Steve’s brief but formative experience in the John Coltrane Quartet in 1960 will echo in what he plays with Alexander.
Our conversation begins with a discussion about Promises Kept and continues with Steve’s recollections of playing as a teenager with Serge Chaloff in Boston; the summer he spent at the School of Jazz in Lenox; and his work with Kenny Dorham, Coltrane, Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Sheila Jordan and the satisfactions and challenges of the jazz life.