The perfect trio?

Kuhn Trio

The Steve Kuhn Trio after their show at the Ottawa Jazz Festival

I’m not going to say it. I’m not going to tell you that I may have seen the perfect jazz trio this evening. Nope, not gonna do it. That’s a can of worms that we’ll keep shut for, like, ever.


Steve Swallow in Ottawa

But it sure is hard not to think so when three musicians are locked in like Steve Kuhn (piano) Steve Swallow (bass) and Joey Baron (drums) were on Wednesday night.  The joy of playing great music leapt off the stage and hit every person in the standing-room-only crowd in the studio at the National Arts Center in Ottawa.

And really, it’s the joy that takes the music to another level and leaves me thinking this could be (I said “could be”, not “is”) the perfect trio. The obvious deep friendship that these three musicians share fuels the music, which fuels the friendship, which fuels the music and around it goes until the vibe is so positive that you no longer just hear the music, you literally feel something extra.  It’s hard to put a finger on it, but when it happens it’s unlike anything else.

I may feel that feeling again this week, or I may not.  One of the things about jazz that keeps us coming back for more is the fact that the magic can happen anytime, anywhere.

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2 Comments on “The perfect trio?”

  1. Bob Falesch says:

    Way back in time during my first wave of digesting Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, etc., and Bill Evans — above all, Bill Evans, I thought I’d eaten all the cookies in the jar. “What could any other pianist do that could possibly impact me?”, I asked myself. After a few years of clinging to that group, following them closely, and looking at every release they issued, I started looking at more of the jazz-trio world. I made all sorts of discoveries, but the most astounding were two pianists, Joanne Brackeen and Steve Kuhn. These two spun my head around. And Steve Swallow…man, one the the main cats in the turning-bass-into-a-solo-instrument sweepstakes!

    Joel, you caught one fantastic trio up there. All three are, by now, seasoned veterans but still playing with the fervor of young, rising apprentices.

  2. Joel Hurd says:


    I was hoping you would respond to this one. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Swallow and Kuhn are both in their 70s now and seem to be in good health, but who knows how much longer they’ll be doing this? No one would blame them if they slowed down a bit. So, I felt beyond lucky to be there.

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