Steven Feifke – Peace In Time – self, 72:38 [8/12/14] ****:

(Steven Feifke – piano; Benny Benack – trumpet and Flugelhorn; Andrew Gould – alto saxophone; Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – tenor saxophone; Alex Wintz – guitar; Raviv Markovitz – bass; Jimmy Macbride – drums)

In the crowded field of jazz up-and-comers, and through the cacophony of an almost endless supply of new CDs, getting recognized is a challenge. One of the new crop of pianist/composers is the 23-year-old Steven Feifke who dashes on the scene with his debut album Peace In Time. 

With a mixture of tunes that is heavily weighted with his own compositions, interspersed with  several recognizable tunes, Steven and the band cut a wide swath with some penetrative and self-assured playing. Leading off with Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence,” the arrangement captures the dissonance and the angularity of Monk’s music with some tight ensemble work. Feifke then shows some spark with his solo followed by trumpeter Ben Benack with some upper register noodling while never loosing sight of the melody. Altoist Andrew Gould also keeps up the pace. “Am I Still There For You?” is the first of Feifke’s nine original compositions included on the album and it strikes an authoritative note right from the get go. With a tranquil solo piano intro from Feifke, the number segues into some unusual harmony between the tenor sax of Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and guitarist Alex Wintz. There follows some contrapuntal interplay among the instruments, with some swoops and dives and changing coloration through to the end of the number.

Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” follows along with the Flugelhorn of Benny Benack stating the theme, with the three horns in some unison playing adding their voices to fill out the enterprising frame. Feifke then takes his piano on an excursion filled with harmonic articulation. Trumpeter Benack then comes in to demonstrate his measured vision on the theme. The other cover is Vernon Duke’s “Autumn In New York” which is given a bossa nova tempo lead by Benack’s Flugelhorn in solo flight, as well as riding over the band in some very close harmonic passages from the other horns. Fiefke’s piano takes some exploratory digressions in impressive style.

Of the remaining original Feifke compositions, there is an authoritative trio version of “Song For Ben And Gidi” whereby by bassist Raviv Markowitz and drummer Jimmy Mcbride join the pianist,  to demonstrate  that they are inventive partners in this musical endeavour. The final track is the title tune, “Peace In Time”. Guitarist Wintz and pianist Feifke work in harmony to set the stage for the rest of the band to join in as they weave through the composition. Wintz’s solo between the sections is resourceful and demonstrates his unconfined technique.

The display of young talent that pianist Steven Feifke has brought together for this session offers a lively and agreeable impression of jazz.

TrackList: Evidence; Am I Still There For You?( Intro); Am I Still There For You ?; Nica’s Dream; Song For Ben And Gidi; Wollongong; 3:23am; Autumn In New York; The Missing Feeling II; The Coast; Second Wind; Peace In Time

—Pierre Giroux