In 1986, Steve Kuhn along with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster were recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City. Twenty six years later we have a re-release of what can easily stand as one of the finest live piano trio recordings over the past thirty years.
Re-releases can be the sonic equivalent of buyer beware. Bad masters, inferior pressings from other countries and a host of sonic land mines can make the most seasoned jazz aficionado think twice before purchase. Sunnyside Records is a first rate label and they have re-releasing down cold. Having reviewed at least a dozen re-released classic jazz recordings, Life's Magic is easily the best with no re-release ever being anything other than top shelf.
For those of you unfamiliar with the original live recording, "Two By Two" is a wonderfully blues infused minor key blues that may well be the essence of that "Big Apple sound" one finds at the Vanguard or any of the other legendary clubs in New York. Kuhn is the epitome of New York piano jazz and with the lyrical magic of Ron Carter on bass and Al Foster owning the pocket on drums this may be one of the most memorable tunes and that speaks volumes for this release. A soulful reharm on "Jitterburg Waltz" borders on addictive along with the reinvented standard "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise." One would be hard pressed to find anything not to like here. Granted taste is subjective but the blatantly obvious transcends the arbitrary and often politically correct habit some publications have of giving every release rave reviews.
The Steve Kuhn Trio and Life's Magic has withstood over a quarter of a century of time and has come out the other side far better than most of us. An absolute must for those that enjoy the finest piano trio music available!
Tracks: Little Old Lady; Two By Two; Jitterbug Waltz; Ulla; Trance; Yesterday's Gardenias; Mr. Calypso Kuhn; Never Let Me Go; Softly As In A Morning Sunrise.
Personnel: Steve Kuhn: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Al Foster: drums.