Amy Stephens Group: My Many Moods (2005)
One could imagine driving along the West Coast with the easygoing sound of the group dominated by the interplay of Stephens on piano and Tom Clark on tenor or soprano sax, supported by Jack Helsley on bass and Kenny Phelps on drums. The title track, which features Brian Ken on soprano, is a good representation of this mood. Near the end, some of the melodic notes echo Chuck Mangione's Save Tonight For Me (Sony, 1990), although the rhythmic beat is not as deliberate.
Two pieces slow the pace slightly for balance. On "Lullaby, the full quartet evokes the feeling of the piece's title (the lyrical ballad was written for Stephens' son Elijah). "Inquietude of the Soul, by contrast, is a very melodic piano solo with a strong classical influence that may hint at one of the elements in the leader's training.
The Amy Stephens Group works well together to perform the original tunes on this recording. The piano and the saxophones also have more impact during brief improvisational solos, as well as while playing melodic lines.
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Track Listing: Reunion; Breakfast in Atlanta; Lullaby; There Must Be a Place Called Heaven; Waiting for You; My Many Moods; Inquietude of the Soul; Tranquility.
Personnel: Amy Stephens: piano; Tom Clark: soprano and tenor saxophones; Jack Helsley: bass; Kenny Phelps: drums; Brian Kent: soprano saxophone; Clipper Anderson: bass; John Bishop: drums.
Record Label: OA2 Records