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Michael Jefry Stevens forges ahead
Michael Jefrey Stevens’ web page reveals the the breadth and scope of his talents and interests. There are solo endeavors, seven international ensembles, and twice that number of local/regional projects that range from duos to septets.
What they have in common is Stevens’ deep knowledge of the many faces of jazz and a virtuosic level of musicianship.
Drawing from a deep pool of talented local players, Stevens has assembled the MJS Electric Quartet, a fusion group that has performed its strong compositions and improvisation for White Horse Black Mountain audiences in the past. It will do it again on Wednesday, June 22.
The term "fusion" itself is woefully imprecise. In some jazz lovers’ minds, it’s synonymous with radio-friendly smooth jazz styles, but the efforts of Stevens’ electric ensembles center on original music inspired by the more sophisticated work of jazz fusion pioneers Weather Report, Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Miles Davis, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and others.
Compositional elements and distinctive melodies provide cohesion, but there’s considerable room for individuals to shine within an improvisational framework. In addition to Stevens on keyboards, the lineup for this White Horse show includes Zach Page on bass, Justin Watt on drums and the pyrotechnics of award-winning violinist Christian Howes. Howes' playing summons up comparisons to electric violin titan Jean-Luc Ponty.
Who: MJS Electric Quartet
When: 7:30 p.m. June 22
Where: White Horse Black Mountain
Cost: $10 advance, $12 door