Sat, 8 August 2009
Tribute CDs can be a dime a dozen. However, when an artist like Steve Kuhn decides to record Mostly Coltrane as a tribute to John Coltrane, we're advised to sit up and take notice.
Kuhn played with Coltrane at a pivotal moment in Trane's career. Preparing to leave the Miles Davis Quintet, Kuhn was the piano player the great saxophonist tabbed to fill out a band that included Steve Davis on bass and Pete LaRoca on drums. In a mostly successful effort to recall those days, Kuhn added the talents of Joe Lovano on tenor sax to the long-time trio of Kuhn on piano, David Finck on double-bass and a thundering Joey Baron on drums.
The song selection is stellar, as Kuhn wisely avoids cliched Coltrane covers like "My Favoirte Things" or "Naima" in favor of the songs he played with Coltrane ("Central Park West", "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes") and leser known tunes like "Configuration".
Lovano never tries to mimic Coltrane, nor is he so respectful that he misses the chance to put his imprint on the songs. He really shines on the avant-garde "Configuration", and takes a wonderfully mellow solo on "Central Park West". Kuhan is wonderfully understated, able to hold the group together with his playing, and take a solo that is memorable without the need for flashiness. He can slash and burn with the best of them ("Configuration") or take it down on the gentle "Trance".
My end of the year CD review includes a category for best tribute album of the year. I don't think I'm going to have to look too much further than Mostly Coltrane for this year's winner.
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EDT