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The Fonda/Stevens Group: Memphis

Read "Memphis" reviewed by John Sharpe

Eighteen years and eleven albums is not bad going for a band roaming that precarious borderline between the mainstream and the avant-garde. And it has been achieved with the same core line-up of the two principal composers, bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, together with drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson. That this well-recorded studio date--recorded at the end of the band's first ever US tour in March, 2008--speaks volumes about where the music finds itself is ...

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The Fonda/Stevens Group: Memphis

Read "Memphis" reviewed by Troy Collins

The 11th album of their storied 18 year career, Memphis is only the fourth studio recording of the venerable Fonda/Stevens Group, making this release a delightful surprise. Co-led by bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, the veteran quartet is rounded out by trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen. Boasting a collective resume that includes stints with Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton and Dave Douglas, they draw on a wealth of innovative collaborations for their own idiosyncratic explorations.

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The Fonda / Stevens Group: Memphis

Read "Memphis" reviewed by Nic Jones

Memphis marks the 25th anniversary of the bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Jefry Stevens' period of collaboration. Their quartet is a fine example of how a long established band can gel without becoming predictable, with many of its moves unforeseeable in advance. This helps to keep the music fresh, but it's the level of collective empathy that often takes it to another level.

This is obvious on “Whale Majesty," which as a model of subtle, veiled interplay that offers ...

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The Fonda/Stevens Group: Forever Real

Read "Forever Real" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

These days, there are few modern jazz groups which can seamlessly merge elements of free improvisation with mainstream and post-bop stylizations, while still maintaining a signature group sound. The Fonda/Stevens Group is partly about the sum of its parts, where the respective musicians emerge as stylists by honing a group-based methodology that stands on its own. A portion of this outing features trumpeter Herb Robertson's warm lower-register voicings via sub-theme dialogues with pianist Michael Jefry Stevens. They methodically intermingle quaint ...

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The Fonda/Stevens Group: Forever Real

Read "Forever Real" reviewed by John Kelman

Since emerging on the scene in the late '80s with trumpeter Dave Douglas and the Mosaic Sextet, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, and drummer Harvey Sorgen have all worked in a variety of contexts. Fonda was Anthony Braxton's bassist of choice in the mid-'90s; Stevens has worked in trios with Mark Whitecage and Dominic Duval; Sorgen has been involved with everything from free jazz to the blues/roots group Hot Tuna. But it's within the context of the longstanding ...

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The Fonda/Stevens Group: Forever Real

Read "Forever Real" reviewed by Dennis Hollingsworth

John Cage said that music is all around us, ever present in the universe. Yet we do not always have the “ears" to decipher it. Forever Real offers the opportunity to exercise your “ears," presenting you with unique sounds that ebb and flow like the tide.

This effort is the eighth recording from the Fonda/Stevens Group. Largely unknown here in the US, the group is well recognized in Europe, certainly unfortunate as it deserves recognition. Bassist Joe ...

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The Fonda/Stevens Group: Parallel Lines

Read "Parallel Lines" reviewed by AAJ Staff

The Fonda/Stevens Group serves up a characteristically ambivalent sound on the 1997 studio record Parallel Lines. On one hand, the quintet deftly handles structured straight-ahead material; but on the other, it yields at the slightest opportunity to collective improvisation. Bassist Joe Fonda stands at the crux of the group--interacting with drummer Harvey Sorgen in a potently rhythmic role (check out their duo performance midway through the tune “Waltz"), as well as interdigitating with pianist Michael Stevens in a strikingly intuitive ...

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The Fonda-Stevens Group: Live At The Bunker

Read "Live At The Bunker" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

“The Fonda-Stevens Group” is arguably one of the finest and hardest working modern jazz outfits in the business. And while “Leo Records” is synonymous with producing improvised, free – jazz and music that is largely unclassifiable, the label generally skirts the bleeding edge of what some refer to as – new music. Therefore, this quartet’s new recording titled, Live At The Bunker marks a slight yet welcome shift in strategy for this legendary UK-based label.

The quartet opens this set ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Fonda-Stevens Group: Evolution

Read "Evolution" reviewed by Robert Spencer

Reviewing can be difficult: there are an awful lot of discs out there that sound like all the rest. This ain't one of them. Evolution confirms that the Fonda-Stevens Group is one of the best-kept secrets in jazz. This fourth release from the quintet is one of the best showcases to date for five of the most exciting instrumentalists currently playing. In an age when most of the best-known exponents of the genre have gone into the lick-recycling business, bassist ...