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Album Review

Steve Knight: Persistence

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Steve Knight: Persistence
Yet another guitar-led trio, this one by Kansas-born, Chicago-based Steve Knight who also writes in the manner of one of his role models, George Benson (Knight composed seven of the album's dozen numbers including two versions of "Sharps Disposal"). Although the recording's title refers in part to the eighteen months it took Knight to write the song "Persistence," it could well signify how difficult it is for jazz musicians to make a decent living these days or to find a record label willing to endorse their enterprise.

Knight says he is most impressed by Benson's ability to make his music "accessible [to] a general audience." Persistence is certainly accessible, as Knight takes the melodic reins and hangs onto them for most of the session's fifty-four minutes. His teammates, bassist Justin Peterson and drummer Jeff Stitely, are by and large low-profile but no less indispensable. This is, after all, a trio, and Knight leans heavily on Peterson and Stitely for support. They are there when he needs them, and solo with assurance when summoned to step forward.

Knight's compositions are pleasant enough (six of the album's first seven numbers are his) without rising far above that level. When playing, his style is technically proficient—as one would expect from someone who started playing guitar at age twelve—with flashes of Benson vying with riffs from Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Jim Hall, among others. While Knight does have some artistic designs of his own, it is hard to single them out from the deep-seated homage to his mentors.

Besides Knight's compositions and another by Peterson ("Art's Rant"), there are covers of Pat Martino's "Cisco," Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and "Change the World," first performed by Wynonna Judd and later a pop hit for Eric Clapton and R&B singer Babyface. Each of them evinces the same pleasant persona as Knight's themes, even-tempered but scarcely challenging. On the other hand, Knight's main influence, George Benson, has many devoted fans, and those who are charmed by his music may be similarly enamored by Knight's trio and its Persistence.

Track Listing

Suspects; Cisco; Real Type Thing; Sharps Disposal; Persistence; Chop Chop; Just Add Meaning; Mary Janes' Last Dance; Art's Rant; Workshop; Change the World; Sharps Disposal (alternate take).

Personnel

Steve Knight: guitar; Justin Peterson: bass; Jeff Stitley: drums.

Album information

Title: Persistence | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Self Produced


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