Friday, November 8, 2013

Chip Stephens Trio, Relevancy

If I were pianist Chip Stephens, I'd be happy with my trio recording Relevancy (Capri 74120-2). Why? It comes across with total conviction, for one thing. He plays in a bop-rooted, hard-driving, all-details there kind of modern mainstream way--with early-middle-period McCoy Tyner and later-period Bill Evans as forebears. Maybe a touch of freeness here and there, too--in a post-Paul Bley mode--a hint, anyway. The music hits hard, swinging with everything it has, no matter the material, which includes a classic Carla Bley piece, standards, originals, and Evans's "24 Skidoo" as the resting point.

The trio has that three-way interplay that this style demands and his team is totally right and totally up for it. Joel Spencer has the drive of a Philly Joe Jones, impeccable time and slapdash solo flair. Bassist Dennis Carroll does all you could ask for, walking, adding to the dialog and soloing with ability and ideas more-or-less a la post-Eddie Gomez.

This is a trio outing that makes you say "yeah!" Chip has all that voicing finesse and a hornworthy right hand, too. More I need not say. Because if you dig this lineage you will dig Mr. Stephens and his trio here.

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