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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joyce Cobb with the Michael Jefry Stevens Trio: Joyce Cobb with the Michael Jefry Stevens Trio

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If New York City is the cultural center of the universe, then Memphis, Tennessee is its crossroads, with the cutting edge and the traditional mingling in Memphis like two best friends. Jazz vocalist Joyce Cobb hails from Memphis, and that city's myriad of influences are evident in her singing. Certainly sophisticated as a jazz singer, Cobb's delivery has the slurring grit of the blues. It is the sound of her meaning business when she steps up to the microphone to sing. The disc opens with Bobby Timmons' soul-jazz classic, “Moanin,'" with Jon Hendricks' lyrics. But this is ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Michael Jefry Stevens: What About...?; Memphis; A Scent in Motion; Remembering the Future

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Conference CallWhat About...?Not Two2010 Fonda/Stevens GroupMemphisPlayscape2009 Harvey Sorgen-Steve Rust-Michael Jefry StevensA Scent in MotionKonnex2009 Jon HemmersamRemembering the FutureJSH Music2010 The current musical climate being what it is, the moniker of “Conference Call" for a far-flung jazz quartet is quite apt. Creative musicians might call a number of different locales home, and the idea of a working band ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harvey Sorgen / Steve Rust / Michael Jefry Stevens Trio: A Scent in Motion

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Back in the 1990s, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, drummer Harvey Sorgen and bassist Steven Rust set in motion a trio project which would have them reassemle in a studio every year to improvise. The collaboration led to four albums: Novella (Leo, 2001), Aercine (Drimala, 2002), Decade (NotTwo, 2003), and now, A Scent in Motion.

Stevens, Sorgen and Rust have cast their roots as improvisers. All possess expressive intuition, allowing them to play off each other and work in tandem towards developing a concept with insight and imagination. They bring it to fruition both in the realm of a composition and ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Michael Jefry Stevens: Eastern Boundary Quartet, Michael Jefry Stevens Trio, Conference Call & Southern Excursion Quartet

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Eastern Boundary QuartetEastern Boundary Quartet Biem Artisjus2008 Michael Jefry StevensFor AndrewKonnex2008 Conference CallPoetry in MotionClean Feed2008 Southern Excursion QuartetTrading PostARC2008 Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens has enjoyed a prolific musical journey but collaboration could be seen as the inspiration behind his music. Each project Stevens participates in offers a different framework to explore his compositional and improvisational ideas.

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Michael Jefry Stevens: For The Children & Moving Stills

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Michael Jefry Stevens For the Childen Cadence Jazz 2008 In Transit Moving Stills Unit Records 2008

The two newest releases by pianist Michael Jefry Stevens reveal two complementary facets of the pianist's musicianship. Though the instrumentation is similar in both, the records were made almost a decade apart, with the older album featuring a lengthy set of Stevens compositions and the more recent album comprised entirely of spontaneous compositions. Taken in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Jefry Stevens: For The Children

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Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens has to be one of most under-appreciated composers and players around. His discography as a leader, going back to 1995, is slight, and he can be most easily heard in cooperative groups such as Conference Call (nominally led by Gebhard Ullmann) and the Fonda/Stevens group. Stevens is an intellectually stimulating player with eclectic tastes, an extremely sharp mind and fast reflexes, able to lead and follow in many a varied musical situation. For The Children, recorded in 1995 but just now released in the Historical Series of Cadence Jazz Records, can be held ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Jefry Stevens Quartet: For the Children

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This release in the Cadence Jazz Historical Series (recorded in February 1995) is full of surprises, none greater than the successful intertwining of a former Jazz Messenger with one of the premier free-jazz rhythm teams. Saxophonist David Schnitter isn't the best-known of the Messengers tenormen, having joined the outfit during the comparative down-time of the 1970s. But since then he has built a reputation as a solid, reliable improviser. Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen often function as the “house rhythm section" of sorts for CIMP Records, Cadence Jazz' sister label. Michael Jefry Stevens, the leader, pianist and composer, is well-respected ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Jefry Stevens: The Survivor's Suite

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Michael Jefry Stevens is a fluid player who finds his comfort level not only on the cool side but also through free jazz and instant improvisation. His touch is both delicate and hard hitting, stopping short of bombast when he ventures into the latter. The balance is visible on this solo record not only in his choice of material, but also in his treatment of the songs, particularly in his interpretation of 'Ask Me Now.' His phrasing has an elegance, and while he does take a line at a tangent he does not let this alter his focus. Another tune ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Jefry Stevens & Mark Whitecage: Short Stories

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Many of the tracks on Short Stories start in a tone of regretful tenderness befitting the title of the first track, “Bittersweet." But there is a piquancy to the playing of both members of this duo, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and multi-talented reedman (alto & soprano sax, plus alto clarinet) Mark Whitecage, that makes this more than your average jazz ballad. Stevens' playing is invested with the harmonic richness of classical music, combined with the inexorable forward motion of jazz and a rhythmic elasticity that allows for a maximum of improvisational power. Whitecage seems conversant with both pre-Ayler and post-Ayler ...



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