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Tim Stevens: Media Vita

Dan McClenaghan By

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Australian pianist Tim Stevens chose the year 2016 to pump up his compositional prowess, vowing to write one tune per day. The challenge he set for himself resulted in three hundred and sixty-six tunes (2016 was a leap year), and Media Vita, twelve pieces culled from the year long effort.

Classically trained, but working much in the free improvisation mode—trio and solo—Media Vita is Stevens' first solo outing that concentrates on his written compositions. His is a refined sound. A clean, clear touch. His compositions brim with an array of emotional material: the somber and reverential, the hopeful and joyful. "Hereinafter," the set's opener, is a reflective, gentle reverie, suffused with a sense of wonder. "Circling" has a magisterial vibe, an understated reverence. "When She Said" seems conflicted, troubled.

Solo piano has, in jazz, it's high profile practitioners. Expectations for these top tier artists are always high, and they almost always deliver—that's why they are top tier artists. So it's always a welcome surprise to find a relative unknown (State-side) like Stevens  immersed in the artform with such a clarity of purpose and depth of musicianship, crafting this music at a first rate, emotive level, making these cerebral but lovely and approachable sounds with unalloyed grace.

Mita Vita has the feel of a classical music recital.  The "but is it jazz" question could raise its head. That little head should be ignored. A tune like "Wrested," a vivacious romp, full of lush beauty, bursting with joy, doesn't need a label. Neither does its follow-up, the spare, melancholy, blue mood tune "The Wrong Door."

Here's wondering what the other three hundred and fifty 2016-penned tunes sound like.

Track Listing: Hereinafter; Circling; When She Said; Media Vita I; Filigree For Six; Wrested; The Wrong Door; Pseudepigrapha; Circling Still; The Look Of Those Leaves; The Evenings You Remember; Media Vita II.

Personnel: Tim Stevens, piano.

Title: Media Vita | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Rufus Records

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