TIM STEVENS TRIO Mickets Rufus Records RF 088
Tim Stevens (pno), Ben Robertson (bs), Dave Beck (dms) – Melbourne, VIC; 11-12 Oct, 2007.
Rufus Redux/Prologue-like/Our Little Systems/Pray Without Ceasing/No it’s Not/Sly-Pie/Mr Leckett’s Etiquette/…the Body Desolate as a Staircase/Litanies TT 57:42.
Since I’ve been mainly a Sydney-sider in my years here in Oz, I do not know enough about the breadth and depth of the Melbourne scene – my loss. (Melbournian Tim Stevens already has a couple of trio albums, plus a solo one, out on Rufus, which I haven’t yet heard.) I DO know that there is equally as much good jazz “down” there as “up” here in the harbor city, though. So, another piano trio album! Unlike The Necks, or (apparently) some of Stevens’ past recordings, they do not go into “collective spontaneous improvisation”, but build “on a composed and improvised repertoire developed over a 5-year collaboration” [quotes from promo material].
OK, so there is some sort of prearranged format or framework to these pieces; mostly original material, the playing is excellent within piano trio boundaries. There is nothing, though, that reaches out and grabs one by the lapels… it all sounds good and builds a mood without major surprises or jolts. BUT, I do not hear anything to distinguish these efforts from other piano trios. The music and performances are quite listenable, but they do not stand out from the pack. Fear of the dreaded Australian “tall poppy syndrome”? Hard to say. This CD is good, modern, professional music played by good, modern, professional musicians. Each piece sets a “level” and remains there until the end with not a lot of dynamics shown. The problem is, I need more than that in my old age!! [Go to: www.rufusrecords.com.au for a look at the label’s fine and varied catalogue.]
Peter B. Lowry
published: IAJRC JOURNAL; v41,#3: Aug 2008, p.76