Texas-based trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez has a reputation as an avant-garde player, and his label, Silkheart, certainly caters to that end of the spectrum, but Stefan, a 1986 quartet date, is an accessible, even homey, affair. The title track, dedicated to his then newborn son, begins with a celestial, churchy air before emerging as a folksy, country dance, John Purcell's bouncy bass clarinet leading a chorus of off-the-cuff vocal interjections from the group and finally ending as a somber military hymn. Purcell, a veteran of countless bands (notably Muhal Richard Abrams and David Murray) is deft and solid throughout, providing sumptuous flute work on the edgily skittish "Hymn for Don Cherry." Gonzalez' breadth of interests is hinted at by his unearthing of "Boi Fuba," an utterly charming Brazilian cowboy song. The closing "Deacon John Ray" is a sunny strut by Purcell, showcasing the funkier side of the band and some in the pocket playing by bassist Henry Franklin. Stefan is arguably one of Gonzalez' best efforts, and is decidedly one of the better entryways into his unique world. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick