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Whirlwind Recordings

Matthew Stevens - Pittsburgh - Import CD

Matthew Stevens - Pittsburgh - Import CD




October 1, 2021


Regular price ¥2,990 JPY
Regular price Sale price ¥2,990 JPY
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Catalog No.: WR4779

JAN/ISBN: 655498297908

Number of Discs: 1

Country/Region of Manufacture: Import


Matthew Stevens


Matthew Stevens is a Toronto-born, New York-based jazz guitarist. He is known to jazz fans as both a stylist and canny soloist. Stevens has worked extensively with trumpeter Christian Scott and Esperanza Spalding and more recently with Terri Lynne Carringtons Social Science band. He also co-leads the group that released In Common offerings with saxophonist Walter Smith III. Stevens has two previous leader dates -- Woodwork and Preverbal. Pittsburgh has no referent in his discography. The guitarist spent part of the COVID-19 lockdown in his wifes hometown of Pittsburgh, practicing on a recently purchased small-body, mahogany Martin 00-17. He was cutting short starts -- ideas and sketches that could be refined and expanded later. With assistance from his drummer and producer Eric Doob, he made preliminary versions of some of this material for The Jazz Gallerys virtual Lockdown Sessions video series, and a vision began articulating itself. While riding his bike, Stevens fell and broke his elbow. Encouraged by a physical therapist aunt to continue practicing immediately, no matter how difficult, his starts, became fully realized compositions. Eleven of them appear on the 32-minute Pittsburgh. Stevens recorded them in two live sessions with a pair of Neumann U89 mics. Despite its brevity, Pittsburgh is an ambitious collection whose pieces often fall into groups. As evidenced by the investigative opener Ambler and later on in Northern Touch, Stevens explores various tonal and timbral faculties across a warm field of scalar inquiry appended by occasional chord voicings. When contrasted with other material here, they can sound a bit outside yet are hardly inaccessible. There are also flashier, more athletic arpeggiated studies such as the glorious Purpose of a Machine and spiky Can Am that showcase Stevens exquisite lyricism, while a reworking of the pastoral Cocoon (an earlier, more abstract, electric trio version appeared on 2017s Preverbal) juxtaposes open-tuned strummed chords and drones. Other pieces, including Buckets, Broke, and especially closer Miserere, are hymn-like in tempo, cadence, and resonant harmonic assonance. Still others, such as the lilting Foreign Ghosts, offer a melodic resonance that emerges like a tranquil pop ballad, while Blue Blues is a dramatic exercise in percussively arpeggiated acoustic wizardry and Ending Is Beginning explores circular single- and triple-note figures that evolve into more intimately detailed explorations of subtle color and texture. While some might disparage Pittsburghs brief run time, its actually optimal. Had these compositions been longer, they may not have sounded as intensely focused or bracing; if there were more of them, the albums impact might have been blunted. As it stands, Pittsburgh is warm and undeniably sharp. Each tune is distinct, cleverly written, and dazzlingly played. This is not only a fine entry in Stevens catalog but a stellar addition to the jazz guitar canon. ~ Thom Jurek


2.Purpose of a Machine
4.Can Am
5.Foreign Ghosts
6.Northern Touch
8.Ending Is Beginning
9.Blues Blues

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