Steve Kuhn

American pianist and composer (24/3/38).

Kuhn started to learn piano at the age of five under the guidance of a classical concert performer. Attracted to jazz, he played with part-time musicians on the Boston club scene where he accompanied artists like Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker, and Vic Dickenson.

A Harvard graduate, he also studied at the Lenox jazz school.

He joined the Kenny Dorham group (1959-60), and worked briefly with John Coltrane (1960), had several spells with Stan Getz, and worked with Art Farmer (1964-66), before settling in Stockholm in 1967.

He performed and recorded throughout Europe before returning to the United States in 1971, where he performed in a quartet. However, he returned to Europe and, in 1974, started recording for the ECM label.

He worked with Sheila Jordan, Steve Swallow and Harvie Swartz at the end of the seventies and in the early eighties.

Among the artists with whom he has recorded are: Kenny Dorham, Stan Getz, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Art Farmer, Pete Laroca, Gary McFarland, Max Roach, Pee Wee Russell, Bob Brookmeyer, Sheila Jordan, and Steve Swallow.

Strongly influenced in the early sixties by Bill Evans and Red Garland, Steve Kuhn gradually developed his own piano style with a refined touch, precisely articulated, and with a predilection for intimate moods; at the same time, notably in his quartet formats, he developed a vigorous style allied with a sense of formal freedom that contribute strongly to his unique musical personality.
Born in Brooklyn in 1938, Kuhn was fascinated with his father's jazz 78s as a toddler, and began classical piano lessons at age five. He taught himself to improvise on and syncopate Mozart and Bach, and practiced boogie-woogie (he retains that style's formidable independence of hands). Moving to the Boston area with his parents, Kuhn began studying with Madame Margaret Chaloff. Her son Serge, baritone saxophonist of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers," had the 14-year-old pianist accompany him on gigs. Throughout his teens, Kuhn continued to play in Boston's jazz clubs with Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker and Vic Dickenson, among other famed passers-through.

Kuhn was a music major at Harvard. After graduating, he won a three-week scholarship to the Lenox School of Music, where he worked alongside Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Gary McFarland, David Baker, members of the Modern Jazz Quartet, William Russo, Gunther Schuller, and George Russell. Kuhn then moved to New York and joined Kenny Dorham's band. A year later, John Coltrane hired Kuhn for the piano chair in his first quartet, prior to McCoy Tyner.

Disturbed by changes in the New York jazz scene, Kuhn moved to Stockholm in '67, returning in '71. He has recorded, toured, and concertized steadily ever since. He's dabbled with electric keyboards, led a quartet with saxophonist Steve Slagle, maintained a long-standing duet with vocalist Jordan, taught master classes, and appeared solo -- yet Kuhn's format of choice is the piano trio, established by Ahmad Jamal in the '50s and refined by Bill Evans in the early '60s. But whether alone, in trio , or with sympatico horns, Steve Kuhn is a distinguished and distinctive master jazzman.