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Michael Stephenson: Meets The Alexander Claffy Trio

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Michael Stephenson: Meets The Alexander Claffy Trio
Record executive and tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds readily acknowledges that growing up in Canada has insulated him from the racial issues prevalent in the United States. As a result, he is using the resources of Cellar Music to help address some of these inequities and record African-American musicians who might not ordinarily have such an opportunity. Vocalist and tenor saxophonist Michael Stephenson falls into this category with this release produced by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt.

As envisaged by producer Pelt, the program is comprised of those old and new, tried and true themes that have a wide audience appeal, such as opener "Sweet Lorraine," popularized by Nat King Cole. With snapping fingers, and supported by bassist Alexander Claffy, who lays out a solid mid- tempo rhythm, Stephenson runs through the number in soft tenor voice that is Cole styled. The Marvin Gaye anthem "What's Happening Brother?" rocks along in solid fashion as Stephenson spins out the lyric in his whispery voice. Pianist Julius Rodriguez offers some dart-like lines in his excellent solo turn.

The Ray Charles hit "Ain't That Love" rides the crest of group dynamics as most of the band get a chance to shine. After Stephenson runs through the lyrics, he takes to the tenor for a couple of bars after which Rodriguez chimes in. Adding to the peppiness of the number, trumpeter Benny Benack III demonstrates his supple sense of swing. Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster did not compose many numbers, but in "Did You Call Her Today?" he wrote a blues styled gem. In this all hands on deck rendition, the soloists expand on what the structure of the piece has to say with expressive confidence.

This session was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's, Englewood Cliffs NJ and engineered by Maureen Sickler, and has great sound.

Track Listing

Sweet Lorraine; Greenbacks; What's Happening Brother? When A Man Loves A Woman; On The Street Where You Live; Tennessee Waltz; Ain't That Love; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Can't Hide Love; Did You Call Her Today?; For All We Know.

Personnel

Alexander Claffy: bass; Michael Stephenson: saxophone, tenor; Julius Rodriguez: piano; Itay Morchi: drums; Benny Benack III: trumpet.

Album information

Title: Meets The Alexander Claffy Trio | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Cellar Records

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