Friday, June 14, 2013

Chip Stephens Trio Relevancy Capri Records 2013

Chip Stephens follows his own sonic path of least resistance with an eclectic feast for the senses.

So are piano trios relevant anymore? Most piano trios tend to knock off a set of predictable reharms without remotely venturing outside their musical comfort zone. An artist can or will be as creative as he or she feels the need and this delightful mix of tunes from Carla Bley, Sammy Cahn and Bill Evans shows Stephens as an artist that is looking to go deeper. The title Relevancy is highly personal as it refers to the extraordinary circumstances of a car wreck and subsequent recovery starting in 2008. This intimate and somewhat reflective sound scape of passion looks at not just music but the world itself with a new found wonder which seems to magically if not mysteriously transcend the work presented here.

Dropped into this mix we find some blues infused original compositions from Stephens including "Somewhere Before The End" and "C Hip Blues." The sonic flint work of Stephens seems to ignite a spark of creativity that is often lacking in a small group ensemble such as this. Stephens goes deep with his solo piano work on "This Funny World" by Rodgers and Hart. The ebb and flow of the material here seems to be a mirror image of not only the personal trials Stephens and his family have endured but the lyrical movement seems to make this magical connection for the passive listener that may have faced their own struggles on occasion.

The smoking rhythm section of Dennis Carroll on bass and Joel Spencer on drums lays down a righteous groove and serves as the harmonic foundation from which Stephens builds upon literally from the ground up. Chip Stephens is a hard charging pianist that may just be scratching the surface of what may well be an untapped reservoir of creativity for out listening pleasure.

While the tunes are certainly what one would consider deep catalog, they are pulled off in a masterful fashion and create lasting musical images long after the final notes die out.

Tracks; Syndrome; Like Someone In Love; Somewhere Before The End; This Funny World; C Hip's Blues; A Day In May; Be My Love; 34 Skidoo.

Personnel: Chip Stephens: piano; Dennis Carroll: bass; Joel Spencer: drums.