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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



Konnex KCD 5243



1. It Never Entered My Mind
2. It's Only a Paper Moon
3. Straight No Chaser
4. Tennessee Waltz
5. The Fire
6. Song for Rio
7. Green Room
8. My Baby Don't Care for Me
9. Shifting Sands
10. Remembering Shirley

Michael Jefry Stevens - Piano
Tim Ferguson - Bass
Jeff "Siege' Siegel - Drums


This trio is new to me, even though this is the sixth CD they have made together (hence the album title). The publicity says they have been playing together for 20 years but that's not a continuous period, as they have played for lots of people in between.

At any rate, I was impressed by the first few tracks on this CD, as the trio puts a new slant on some well-known standards. For example, It Never Entered My Mind has an almost rocky beat, while in It's Only a Paper Moon the pianist breaks up the melody into unexpected chunks, with unusual rhythms. Michael Stevens similarly dislocates Straight No Chaser. Tennessee Waltz is presented more conventionally, with a beguiling pulse and a good bass solo.

All but one of the remaining tracks are compositions by members of the group, and it is here that things start to go downhill. The Fire is an up-tempo number by bassist Tim Ferguson in which the speed seems to undermine the group's cohesion, as the playing sounds scrappy and un-coordinated. In the bossa nova Song for Rio, the drummer's rim clicks sound uncertain and spasmodic, although the pianist plays lucidly.

Green Room is another Tim Ferguson original and it features his double bass both arco and pizzicato. My Baby Don't Care for Me is listed thus on the sleeve and credited to Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson, who actually wrote a song called My Baby JUST Cares for Me, made famous by Nina Simone. There are hints that this is what the trio is actually playing, although the delivery is again scrappy. The CD. ends with two tunes by drummer Jeff Siegel. Shifting Sands is an attractive waltz with radiant piano, while Remembering Shirley is a slow-burning blues.

So, to borrow a phrase from the world of football, this is an album of two halves, with particularly fine piano from Michael Stevens which is let down on some tracks by seemingly careless playing.

Tony Augarde

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