122

Michael Jefry Stevens & Mark Whitecage: Short Stories

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Michael Jefry Stevens & Mark Whitecage: Short Stories Many of the tracks on Short Stories start in a tone of regretful tenderness befitting the title of the first track, "Bittersweet." But there is a piquancy to the playing of both members of this duo, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and multi-talented reedman (alto & soprano sax, plus alto clarinet) Mark Whitecage, that makes this more than your average jazz ballad. Stevens' playing is invested with the harmonic richness of classical music, combined with the inexorable forward motion of jazz and a rhythmic elasticity that allows for a maximum of improvisational power. Whitecage seems conversant with both pre-Ayler and post-Ayler reed playing, and he's able to make use of a large number of effects to increase or decrease tension. As the moods are created and shifted and transmuted, Stevens and Whitecage carry the attentive listener along on an ever-fascinating journey.

Most remarkably of all, Stevens and Whitecage play absolutely together at all times. This series of compositions by Stevens is by no means simple, but Whitecage is up to the task. Wherever he goes, Stevens is there; wherever Stevens goes, he's there. In adventurous music like this that's no mean feat: Monk's "empty elevator shaft" might seem downright cozy compared to the rhythmic and melodic treacherousness of these tracks. But these two having been playing together a long time, and a recording like this is the ample fruit of their labors.

All the tracks touch on a number of moods and approaches, but "Short Story #1" heats up outstandingly, while tracks like "Bittersweet" and "Short Story #2" are simply gorgeous at times without lapsing for a moment into tired forms. The closing track, "The Miracle," sums up the miraculous interplay works: Whitecage states a simple, romantic figure with Stevens comping in a melancholy mode. When the pianist solos he weaves heart-breaking miniatures that, again, sound simple but are at the same time invested with a richness of emotion that never sounds formulaic or cloying. A fittingly muted end to a modest recording by two much-overlooked master musicians. Highly recommended.


Title: Short Stories | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: red toucan


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Meeting My Shadow CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read No Secrets No Lies CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read 50 CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Ears Are Filled With Wonder" CD/LP/Track Review Ears Are Filled With Wonder
by John Sharpe
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Evergreen (Canceled World)" CD/LP/Track Review Evergreen (Canceled World)
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Unification" CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Soundscapes" CD/LP/Track Review Soundscapes
by Jim Olin
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 1, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!