The Stephen Anderson Trio

Nation Degeneration

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After working in bassist Lynn Seaton's trio for years, pianist Stephen Anderson made his debut recording as a leader for Summit in 2008. His second CD for the label follows a similar path, but with a couple of exceptions. Bassist Jeffry Eckels is again on hand, but drummer Joel Fountain broke his arm in several places and was replaced by Ross Pederson. The pianist wrote seven originals for this session, kicking off with the tense, brisk post-bop vehicle "Left in a Red State," followed by the whimsical intricate blues "Count Your Facts." "Sullivan's" is a playful humorous blues with terrific interplay by the trio. Alto saxophonist Andrew Van Tassel guests on several tracks, including the demanding "Polyethylene" (penned by Alex Van Gils), a gracious gesture by Anderson, who features the work of two of his University of North Carolina students in a single track. Van Tassel is up to the even greater challenge of Anderson's haunting ballad "December 2008," which features just the two of them. Wrapping the session is Anderson's stunning treatment of the old hymn "How Gentle God's Commands," for the most part played in a spacious meditative setting, though adding a dramatic finale. Highly recommended.

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