Brooklyn-born Steve Kuhn was fascinated with jazz very early in his life. He began classical piano lessons at age 5 and soon began to "improvise and syncopate the classical repertoire."
In his early teens, Kuhn studied with legendary teacher Margaret Chaloff who schooled him in the Russian Technique, an invaluable tool for tone production and projection. Chaloff's son, a baritone saxophonist for Woody Herman, hired the 13-year-old pianist to play in his group. Throughout his teens, Kuhn continued to play in Boston jazz clubs with visiting celebrities such as Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker, and Vic Dickenson.
After graduating from Harvard, Kuhn attended the Lenox School of Music where he met and played in a group with fellow students Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. From there, he went on to play with Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane's newly formed quartet, Stan Getz, and Art Farmer, before forming the first Steve Kuhn Trio.
At the end of the 1960s, he spent four years living in Europe, where his performances had a significant impact upon local players. Upon returning to the United States, Kuhn began his long-term affiliation with ECM, resulting in a string of important albums. In the mid-'80s, Kuhn launched a new and still evolving edition of his trio with with bassist David Finck.
In 2004, Kuhn recorded Promises Kept, which included a string orchestra of which he is most proud. He continues to tour widely, with a strong following in Europe and especially Japan where his albums frequently appear on the jazz charts.