Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Matthew Stevens: Pittsburgh


Matthew Stevens: Pittsburgh


Sign in to view read count
Matthew Stevens: Pittsburgh
Good things were promised by New York-based guitarist Matthew Stevens' fusionesque sophomore album, Preverbal (Ropeadope, 2017). It was made with a kicking trio comprising the exceptional bassist Vicente Archer, a longstanding associate of Robert Glasper, and drummer Eric Doob, whose credits include organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and, alongside Stevens, trumpeter Christian Scott. In the normal course of events, said good things would likely have come by autumn 2021, perhaps in the form of another trio album. But the timeline was messed up, first by lockdown, then by a broken elbow Stevens suffered in a bike accident.

So what we have with the solo album Pittsburgh is a stopgap. Recorded in early 2021, it presents eleven short originals, performed on an acoustic guitar, with no overdubs or sound layering of any kind. The pieces are not fragments, they are fully formed compositions; one is a reimagined version of "Cocoon" from the aforementioned Preverbal. Variegated but hanging together nicely, the tunes range from the abstract and experimental through the lyrical and hymnlike. Preliminary versions of some of them were performed by Stevens as part of Pittsburgh's Jazz Gallery's Lockdown Sessions video series. A few would stand longer workouts on Stevens' next plugged-in album with his band; the ballad "Buckets" and the churchy "Foreign Ghosts," for instance, along with the ebullient "Can Am," composed to celebrate the Canadian-born Stevens' recently obtained American citizenship.

The disappointment here is the playing time, which is just 32 minutes. In the digital age one is more often presented with albums which are too long rather than too short. But 32 minutes would have been considered wanting even during the analogue era, transcendent exceptions such as John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse, 1965) notwithstanding.

Track Listing

Ambler; Purpose of a Machine; Buckets; Can Am; Foreign Ghosts; Northern Touch; Cocoon; Ending Is Beginning; Blue Blues; Broke; Miserere.


Album information

Title: Pittsburgh | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings

< Previous
Trust Me



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.