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“The Fonda-Stevens Group” is arguably one of the finest and hardest working modern jazz outfits in the business. And while “Leo Records” is synonymous with producing improvised, free – jazz and music that is largely unclassifiable, the label generally skirts the bleeding edge of what some refer to as – new music. Therefore, this quartet’s new recording titled, Live At The Bunker marks a slight yet welcome shift in strategy for this legendary UK-based label.
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!
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop. But nothing has touched my artistic sensiblities like JAZZ! Two years ago I moved to Sarasota, FL where I renewed my focus on my singing career and I was so impressed with the quality, quantity and generousity of talented jazz musicains in the Suncoast area. I soon partnered with piano legend Billy Marcus and his trio with Don Mopsick and Stephen Bucholtz. What a blast working with these guys and having them back me up on my first jaz album, Here's To You... which was just released on October 1st. I can't wait to see where the coming year brings me! Check out syniacarrolljazz.com