Amy Stephens

My Many Moods

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The third album from pianist Amy Stephens shows off a noteworthy maturity in composition. While portions of the album rest in somewhat stereotypical nightclub-style balladry, the majority of the works are in a highly structured modern jazz vein. Stephens suggests Keith Jarrett on the keys from time to time, with some dexterous moves inspired it would seem by classical training (there are hints of third stream embedded in some of the compositions as well). In other parts, the pace picks up for something akin to a Vince Guaraldi number, thumping bass keys all a-flutter. The rest of her quartet works admirably. Jack Helsley stretches each note out of the bass as though there were a limited supply, adding a pensive effect to the music. Tom Clark is a standout on the soprano sax in both solos and the basic melodic lines. Kenny Phelps holds up the rhythm admirably, keeping time and tone but seeming almost out of the picture until absolutely needed for something dramatic. The performances are all tight, but the composition is the star on this one. Give it a listen for the delicate mix of old and new hidden in the works.

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