The Fonda-Stevens Group: Live At The Bunker
The quartet opens this set with soulful balladry on the piece titled, “For Us” as trumpeter Paul Smoker exudes heartfelt lines in conjunction with pianist Michael Jefry Stevens’ velvety undercurrents. However, the musicians pull a 360 degree turnaround on the second track, “Borrowed Time” which is marked by Smoker’s genial muted trumpet lines, linearly performed unison choruses, engaging call and response improv and a brief swing motif. On this piece, the band prominently exhibits the virtues of being in synch, as there is little margin for error amid these odd-metered rhythms, cleverly constructed themes and intricately executed passages. Yet the band also excels at integrating a loose vibe which affords the soloists ample breathing room for reinventing the compositional subject matter.
Bassist Joe Fonda and drummer Harvey Sorgen anchor the intense momentum for the soloist’s climactic choruses and catchy melodies on “Don’t Go Baby”, whereas the quartet finalizes the brisk proceedings with the gospel induced “Oh, Lord, It’s Nice To Sit On Your Porch Today”. Here, the band pursues crashing cadenzas along with Stevens’ lush interludes and Smoker’s deviously constructed yet altogether playful lead soloing. Without further ado, Live At The Bunker is a magnificent release and a late entry into this writer’s hypothetical top ten list for 2000. Folks, modern jazz doesn’t get much better than this!
* * * * * (Out of * * * * *)
( Leo Records )
Track Listing: 1) For Us (Stevens) 2) Borrowed (Fonda) 3) Don
Personnel: Joe Fonda; bass: Michael Jefry Stevens; piano: Paul Smoker; trumpet: Harvey Sorgen; drums
Record Label: Leo Records
Style: Modern Jazz