Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Michael Jefry Stevens On A Roll, with No Ham or Baloney

Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens has been particularly active of late, with various tours and albums on Cadence, Konnex, and others. And now here's another, A Scent in Motion (Konnex), finding Stevens in a trio setting with bassist Steve Rust and drummer Harvey Sorgen. Stevens combines the propulsively swinging, harmonically rich vocabulary of the best that sort of pianism has to offer with more outside ventures. He does that here, and he does that in a way that makes him one of the more important 88-operators active today.

Rust and Sorgen have the knack to make this trio a fully three-way affair. This is not a pianist with accompaniment. The numbers are originals by Rust or Stevens, and one group collaboration. They are always captivating. Stevens, like Paul Bley, never entirely abandons the harmonic tradition, yet like Bley he does everything with impeccable pianistic execution and imagination. And he does it in the manner of Michael Jefry Stevens. Perhaps his time has come.

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