Michael Jefry Stevens is a fluid player who finds his comfort level not only on the cool side but also through free jazz and instant improvisation. His touch is both delicate and hard hitting, stopping short of bombast when he ventures into the latter. The balance is visible on this solo record not only in his choice of material, but also in his treatment of the songs, particularly in his interpretation of 'Ask Me Now.' His phrasing has an elegance, and while he does take a line at a tangent he does not let this alter his focus. Another tune that pulses is the becoming folkish 'Musica Callada #1,' where his pace is measured, his air relaxed and balmy.
As a composer, Stevens utilizes a wide palette. He essays ballads with considerable feeling, 'Quiet' making the case convincingly. The unfolding is deliberate, shading the tune gently, his left hand emphasising darker daubs. And if one looks for the influences, one can witness the ghost of Bill Evans and the visitation of Ahmad Jamal. Comparisons apart the title track covers the vast spectrum that is the wont of Stevens.
This is a completely improvised suite, and within its ambit stirs structure and freedom. Stevens suspends time and harmony; his lines arch and curve and fall in a splash of color. He unleashes bolts of thunder with his left hand and clasps melody in scintillating runs. On The Survivor's Suite he keeps blandness away, never letting pretty pictures efface his ardour.
Track Listing: For Galo; Ask Me Now; Musica Callada #1; Quiet; The Search; Survivor?s Suite: Praeludium, Yin/
Tang, Interludium, The Eternal Spring of Hope, Postlude
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.