Chip Stephens is an impeccable technician, a clever, even daring composer, and a restless explorer of melody. Adept at swing and complexity, he unfurls piano lines with a restless authority that marries brawn to delicacy in this collection of originals and transmogrified standards. Bracketed by a brisk, darting take on Carla Bley's angular Syndrome" and a breakneck rendition of Bill Evans' 34 Skidoo," Stephens' second Capri CD never flags. It traverses the blues ("Somewhere Before the End"), swing (Sammy Cahn's Be My Love," done proud and strutting), and the introspective and modernistic ("A Day in May," perhaps the ...read more
Pianist Chip Stephens' self-penned liner notes to Relevancy are both reflective and pragmatic, dissecting life, touching on the bond between parents and their children, and sussing out the meaning of relevancy in several contexts. This writing reveals a rare balance between the down-to-earth everyman's insight and the profound, so it should come as no surprise then that his playing possesses that same even-handedness. Stephens' second album for the Capri label, Relevancy is a trio album worth treasuring. Stephens makes good on his own words, delivering music that's real, honest and true" but, in doing so, proving that ...read more
Pianist Chip Stephens shows his fine sense of melody and improvisation on this recording that strikes the right balance between original material and standards. They work well within the trio format, particularly with Ken Walker (bass) and Todd Reid (drums) providing solid support.
Stephens is colorful in his improvisations and gives harmony and dynamics a firm voice. This helps him navigate tunes from pianist Thelonious Monk and trumpeter Horace Silver with the same facility performed in his own compositions; the latter influence showing a preference for the blues and slower tunes that are rife with melody. ...read more