The Fonda/Stevens Group’s Memphis Released Today

September 29, 2009

Playscape Recordings officially welcomes The Fonda/Stevens Group to its roster with the September 29th release of Memphis, the eminent ensemble’s 11th recording.

Only the fourth studio release in the band’s two-decade existence, Memphis takes its name from Stevens’ composition, “Memphis Ramble”, one of ten tracks documented here for the first time following the band’s March 2008 U.S. tour.

Co-led by bassist/composer Joe Fonda and pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens, who celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first collaboration in 2009, The Fonda/Stevens Group also features trumpeter Herb Robertson and drummer Harvey Sorgen.

“Their quartet is a fine example of how a long established band can gel without becoming predictable, with many of its moves unforeseeable in advance,” explains AllAboutJazz.com’s Nic Jones. “This helps to keep the music fresh, but it’s the level of collective empathy that often takes it to another level…it’s clear on ‘Memphis Ramble’ that the group had reached a level of understanding in excess of even its usual working relationship.”

“The great thing about the band is its human warmth and musical openness,” writes Stef Gijssels on his popular blog, Free Jazz. “They can play AACM-like music (‘In The Whitecage’), post-bop (‘For My Brother’), blues, Stanko-esque melancholy (‘Whole Majesty’), free improvisation (‘Yes This Is It!’) and spontaneous chants (‘Memphis Ramble’)…it is fun, musically entertaining and interesting.”

The Downtown Music Gallery’s Bruce Lee Gallanter adds, “What makes this band great is that they can swing their asses off, go out, come back and stop on a dime. Their jubilant spirit is infectious. This is the one disc that makes me feel so good every time I hear it.”

The Fonda/Stevens Group will celebrate its latest record with a two-week, eight-country European tour in the second half of October. Details can be found here.


Three AUM Fidelity Titles On Culture Catch’s Top 10 Avant-Jazz Albums of 2008

January 6, 2009

 aum-logo-webIn 2008, AUM Fidelity, in association with Arts for Art, Inc., released a series of three live recordings from Vision Festival XII in 2007. Each documented a large-scale piece, written by Roy Campbell, Bill Dixon and William Parker respectively, commissioned by, and premiered at, the festival.

All three of these releases are included on Culture Catch’s Best New Avant-Jazz Albums of 2008 list, written by Downtown Music Gallery’s Bruce Gallanter, who included a blurb about each.

On Roy Campbell’s Akhenaten Suite:
The sound of this quintet (which also includes violinist Billy Bang, vibraphonist Bryan Carrott, bassist Hill Greene, and drummer Zen Matsuura) is much like an early ’70s Blue Note date, always swinging infectiously. This was one of the most enchanting sets of last year’s Vision Festival and it still sounds wonderful on disc.

On Bill Dixon’s 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound: Darfur:
I’ve caught professor/composer Bill Dixon on a number of occasions; sometimes his group is just great and sometimes they are amazing. This set was by far the best I’ve heard from him. 

On William Parker’s Double Sunrise Over Neptune:
An outstanding work and perhaps Parker’s finest moment yet!