Amy Stephens Group – My Many Moods – OA2

by | Oct 13, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Amy Stephens Group – My Many Moods – OA2 22021, 42:16 ***1/2:

(Amy Stephens – piano; Tom Clark – tenor & soprano saxes; Jack Helsley – bass; Kenny Phelps – drums; with Brian Kent – soprano sax; Clipper Anderson – bass; John Bishop – drums on one track)

Stephens certainly displays a wide range of jazz stylings and pianist moods, but too often glibness and sentiment trump substance.  It may be that she hasn’t found her voice yet. It may be that she needs edgier musicians who will challenge her to get out of her comfort zone. Or it might be advisable for her to have a go at an album of standards that will require her to dig deep to create something genuinely original.  Two numbers stand out—the Vince Guarldi-esque “Breakfast in Atlanta,” and the solo piano piece, “Inquietude of the Soul,” where we get a taste a more straight ahead jazz feel.

One difficulty is the very slick sax playing of Tom Clark, who falls somewhere between the approach of a David Sanborn or Paul McCandless (whom he sounds quite a bit like on soprano sax) and that of a Joe Henderson or Bobby Watson.  This is one of those discs that attempts to bridge the worlds of smooth jazz and authentic acoustic jazz, much like Brian Bromberg’s Downright Upright, the three CDs by the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project, or Dan Siegel’s Departure and Fables.  Alas, My Many Moods may fall between two stools; one hopes not, because Amy Stephens sounds like an artist on the verge of big things.  With a little seasoning and maturity, she could make her mark in the world of acoustic jazz.

TrackList: Reunion, Breakfast in Atlanta, Lullaby, There Must Be a Place Called Heaven, Waiting for You, My Many Moods, Inquietude of the Soul, Tranquility

– Jan P. Dennis

Related Reviews