All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

464

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

By

Sign in to view read count








Eastern Boundary Quartet

Eastern Boundary Quartet

Biem Artisjus

2008


Michael Jefry Stevens

For Andrew

Konnex

2008


Conference Call

Poetry in Motion

Clean Feed

2008


Southern Excursion Quartet

Trading Post

ARC

2008


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.

On the eponymous debut of the Eastern Boundary Quartet, the music literally crosses international boundaries as Stevens, along with bassist Joe Fonda, collaborates with Hungarian musicians Balazs Bagyi (drums) and Mihaly Borbel (sax). This live recording is a musical quilt combining the spirit of jazz with the distinctive nature of Hungarian music. The disc begins with "Song for My Mother," a Fonda composition, that starts off plaintively, building to an insistent crescendo and ending with masterful drum work. "The End Game," a Latin-flavored Stevens piece, features a melodic, virtuosic solo from Fonda and on "Tuzugras/Fire Jumping," the quartet exhibits an uncanny energy and drive. Rounding out the disc is an improvisational piece and Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue". With two American and two Hungarian musicians, the Eastern Boundary Quartet is a musical melting pot of the best kind.

For Andrew by Stevens' trio with bassist Peter Herbert and drummer Jeff "Siege" Siegel is a showcase for Stevens the composer. Though the Miles Davis/Bill Evans classic "Nardis" and the Moross-Latouch composition "Lazy Afternoon" are included, the majority of the compositions belong to Stevens. "Spirit Song" exemplifies Stevens' lyrical playing, "Waltz" is a propulsive piece that lets Siegel demonstrate his nuanced, expressive drumming and "The Lockout" is a playful, insistent tune with a march-like feel. "The River Po," the closing track, begins with Herbert bowing in the upper registers, creating a dark, moody tone. The compositions exhibit various influences from modern and free jazz, but each tune has Stevens' distinct stylistic stamp.

Conference Call, on the other hand, finds Stevens as part of a composing collective. All the members—Stevens, Fonda, reedman Gebhard Ullmann and drummer George Schuller—contribute compositions to Poetry in Motion. Stevens wrote the title track and the aptly named "Quirky Waltz". Another standout track is Fonda's "Next Step," a kinetic composition that highlights the rhythm section. Schuller's "Back To School" allows Ullmann to showcase his prodigious skills. The last tune, Ullmann's "Desert...Bleue...East," is a shape-shifting tour-de-force demonstrating the rhythmic interplay of the ensemble.

Stevens is also a part of the Southern Excursion Quartet, a collective of musicians living in the southeastern part of the United States (with saxophonist Don Aliquo, bassist Jonathan Wires and drummer Tom Giampietro.) True to its moniker, Trading Post has a distinctly southern feel. The Andrew Hill composition "Ashes" is languid, like a humid Tennessee summer afternoon. It builds in intensity, but never loses the relaxed feel. Giampietro's "A Long and Lonely Nights Work" sounds like it could be heard drifting out of a jazz club on Beale Street. Stevens, who moved to Memphis after years in the New York City area, contributed two pieces to this CD, "For Wheeler" (dedicated to trumpeter Kenny) and "Spiritual," the soulful closing track.

Tracks and Personnel



Eastern Boundary Quartet

Tracks: Song for my Mother; The End Game; Tuzugras/Fire Jumping; Improvisation; Afro Blue.

Personnel: Mihaly Borbel: Saxophone; Michael Jefry Stevens: Piano; Joe Fonda: Bass; Balazs Bagyi: Drums



For Andrew

Tracks: Nardis; Spirit Song; Waltz; Specific Gravity; Lazy Afternoon; Parallele Lines; Lazy Waltz; The Lockout; The River Po.

Personnel: Michael Jefry Stevens: Piano; Jeff "Siege" Siegel: Drums; Peter Herbert: Bass



Poetry in Motion

Tracks: The Shining Star; Poetry in Motion; The Path; Next Step; Back to School; Quirky Waltz; Desert...Bleue...East.

Personnel: Gebhard Ullmann: Soprano & Tenor Saxophones, Bass Clarinet; Michael Jefry Stevens: Piano; Joe Fonda: Double Bass; George Schuller: Drums, Percussion, & Hammer Whistle.



Trading Post

Tracks: Ashes; Out in the World; Chant; Chant 2; A Long and Lonely Nights Work; Longing; For Wheeler; December; Spiritual.

Personnel: Don Aliquo: Saxophone; Tom Giampietro: Drums; Michael Jefry Stevens: Piano; Jonathan Wires: Bass

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Song Poetry of William Parker Multiple Reviews
The Song Poetry of William Parker
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 19, 2018
Read A Six-String Travelogue Multiple Reviews
A Six-String Travelogue
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Dot Time Legends Series: Is Every Night New Year's Eve Around Here? Multiple Reviews
Dot Time Legends Series: Is Every Night New Year's Eve...
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: June 16, 2018
Read Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times Multiple Reviews
Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 13, 2018
Read The Rarest of Ivories: Fred Hersch, Joey Alexander, Eliane Elias and Renee Rosnes Multiple Reviews
The Rarest of Ivories: Fred Hersch, Joey Alexander, Eliane...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2018
Read Basic Beauty: Arthur Blythe on Columbia Multiple Reviews
Basic Beauty: Arthur Blythe on Columbia
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 23, 2018
Read "The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants" Multiple Reviews The Narell Brothers: Steelpan Music Merchants
by Nigel Campbell
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "The Art of the Duo: Keys and Reeds" Multiple Reviews The Art of the Duo: Keys and Reeds
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 11, 2018
Read "Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic" Multiple Reviews Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic
by Doug Collette
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Minimalist Guitar: Clouds and Dreams" Multiple Reviews Minimalist Guitar: Clouds and Dreams
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "New and Notable Releases" Multiple Reviews New and Notable Releases
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And Rutherford" Multiple Reviews Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And...
by John Eyles
Published: September 8, 2017