Wisdom and wistfulness are intertwined in “Wisteria”, whose title track, written by Art Farmer, takes us back to the early 60s, when both Steve Kuhn and Steve Swallow sang softly of the blues in the trumpeter-flugelhornist’s band. They’ve shared a lot of history since then. Swallow played on Kuhn’s classic “Trance”; Kuhn played on Swallow’s “Home” and “So There”. Drummer Joey Baron has been heard with Kuhn on ECM discs including “Remembering Tomorrow” and the dazzling tribute disc “Mostly Coltrane”.
This album takes a fresh look at several pieces heard in Kuhn’s orchestral “Promises Kept” collection, but alongside the aching balladry there is also some driving hard bop (on “A Likely Story”) , a brace of Swallow tunes (“Dark Glasses”), Carla Bley’s gospel-tinged “Permanent Wave” and the Brazilian “Romance” by Dori Caymmi… In all, a varied programme that the trio seems to sail through effortlessly, master musicians beyond the need to prove anything, creating the agreeable illusion that this demanding music is playing itself.
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