Thursday, July 23, 2009

One More for Michael Jefry Stevens, This Time in a Quartet

That pianist Michael Jefry Stevens has entered an especially prolific stage is evidenced by the number of inspired releases he has been in on of late. Today we have him in a quartet setting. The Southern Excursion Quartet, namely. It's a fertile bed that produces a bountiful harvest on their album Trading Post (Artist Recording Collective). Stevens is joined by tenor exponent Don Aliquo, bassist Jonathan Wires, and drummer Tom Giampietro, with all four contributing original compositions.

This is a group effort all the way, with piano and tenor wielding most of the solo space, but with bassist Wires getting some time in the spotlight as well. Every piece has its own special ambiance, with the emphasis on tonal and somewhat cool approaches to the music. That is not to say, however, that this is in any way smooth or emasculated in its resulting sound. There are quiet yet intense fires burning throughout. It is a very lyrical, tuneful and satisfying set.

Now if they turned up the burners a little, I think I would like them even better.

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