Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
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

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Mountain Song
Mountain Song
Artists Recording Collective
2016
buy
Flow
Flow
NotTwo Records
2016
buy
Brass Tactics
Brass Tactics
Konnex Records
2016
buy
Mountain Song
Mountain Song
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2015
buy
Folk Five
Folk Five
Fortune Records
2015
buy
Perfect Dream
Perfect Dream
ARC - Artists Recording Collective
2014
buy
Chet Baker Chet Baker
trumpet
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Paul Bley Paul Bley
piano
Satoko Fujii Satoko Fujii
piano
Steve Lacy Steve Lacy
sax, soprano
Mark Dresser Mark Dresser
bass, acoustic
Mark Feldman Mark Feldman
violin
John Chin
piano
Brian Groder Brian Groder
trumpet

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.