Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

151

The Fonda/Stevens Group: Forever Real

By

Sign in to view read count
John Cage said that music is all around us, ever present in the universe. Yet we do not always have the "ears" to decipher it. Forever Real offers the opportunity to exercise your "ears," presenting you with unique sounds that ebb and flow like the tide.



This effort is the eighth recording from the Fonda/Stevens Group. Largely unknown here in the US, the group is well recognized in Europe, certainly unfortunate as it deserves recognition. Bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens have played together in a variety of settings, notably with Dave Douglas in the early '90s. For more than a decade, with the addition of drummer Harvey Sorgen, this group has been a rare commodity, keeping a consistent foundation with longevity. Few working bands can boast such continuity given the inherent financial and logistical realities.



All of the compositions on this disc belong to either Fonda or Stevens. Stylistic categories are simply too confining for this ensemble's inventive originality. There is a running dialogue between all members during each song, with free flowing interplay and technically adept design. Those considering spectatorship should be aware that the music requires participation, not unlike reading a serious novel. This is not background music. Take some quiet time, pay attention, and you will be fully rewarded.



Herb Robertson uses all the sounds available from his trumpet, summoning memories of Lester Bowie, always a welcome happenstance. Breaths, grunts, pops, and bellows augment his use of traditional tones. Throughout the disc, Fonda provides necessary support with strong soloing. Sorgen is particularly impressive. The fact that he also plays with the band Hot Tuna exemplifies his versatility. The inclusion of Maddox adds intrigue in spots, particularly his striking poetic uttering on "Cotton." After listening to this, you too will want to know what cotton is!

"The Stalker" is a mosaic capsule of what makes these guys special. Starting with a piano vamp, bowed bass, trumpet musings, and churning drum patterns, the tune unfolds and expands into unexpected territory. Melody is there, but subtly presented. Stevens leads the way with a solo full of block chords, melodic twists and harmonic questions. Robertson's explorations lead to a fleeting display from Sorgen played with controlled fire. Robertson brings the quartet back and the tune slowly dissolves. Nice!

Bands as dynamic as this present a solid test of engineering skill. In that regard Jonathan Townes warrants mention, as the recording quality is first rate. Each player is properly placed in the soundstage. Microphone choices and placement capture the particular qualities of each instrument. Piano and snare drum, not easily recreated, are superb. Cymbals are also present and distinctive.

This disc would be a welcome experience for any jazz fan. But it is well suited to those who prefer 21st century harmonies and a multicolored palette. These men play very well and I am grateful for the opportunity to comment. Heartily recommended.

Visit the Fonda/Stevens Group on the web.


Track Listing: Forever Real; From the Source; The Stalker; A Question of Love; Relentlessness; The Call; Cotton.

Personnel: Michael Jefry Stevens: piano; Joe Fonda: acoustic bass; Herb Robertson: trumpet; Harvey Sorgen: drums. Special guest Napoleon Maddox: human beat box, poetry.

Title: Forever Real | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: 482 Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I'm Going To Eat Dessert
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read 20 CD/LP/Track Review 20
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Molto Bene" CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "King For A Day" CD/LP/Track Review King For A Day
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "RFK Stadium 1989 Box" CD/LP/Track Review RFK Stadium 1989 Box
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Fountain Of Youth" CD/LP/Track Review Fountain Of Youth
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 15, 2017