David P. Stevens | Epiphany
Sanctifly Music Group
by Brent Faulkner
Philadelphia guitarist, singer, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist David P. Stevens released his fourth independent jazz offering, Epiphany via Sanctifly Music Group March 1st, 2013. While ‘jazz’ may be the most appropriate label attached to Stevens’s music, it is not indicative of ‘the complete package’. Blending elements of smooth/contemporary jazz, rock, blues, and R&B, Epiphany fully captures the ‘urban’ sound, encompassing a little bit of everything. Stevens, always the collaborator, collaborates with numerous musicians on this 11 track effort including Gerald Albright, Frank McComb, Carol Riddick, Elan Trotman, and Gerald Veasley. The results of this fifty minute affair don’t disappoint.
Epiphany, never short of bright spots, yields three home runs with “Shy Guy”, “Just Like That”, and “Walking”. “Shy Guy” opens the effort ‘deliciously’, led by guest Jamie Knight’s nuanced, playful vocals (as well as backing vocals) and Stevens’s smooth, soulful guitar. When Stevens sheds on guitar, he showcases incredible agility and the upmost musicianship. “Just Like That” continues musical excellence, featuring a lovely melodic tandem of saxophone (Gerald Albright) and guitar. Albright delivers a fiery solo, while Steven’s guitar accompaniment and proceeding solo match the ferociousness, sporting a rock edge and grit. On the closer “Walking”, bassist Gerald Veasley is the guest, blending soundly with Stevens. The pieces of “Walking” evolve with great pace, making the six-and-a-half minute duration pass by quickly. Veasley capably solos agilely, accompanied notably by soul-stirring organ, which propels emotion. Stevens’ guitar solo here, however, is arguably his best, closing Epiphany epically.
The aforementioned tracks aren’t the sole attractions. Title cut “Epiphany” features solid tenor sax playing from Carl Cox, who caps off a fine solo ascending to the topmost register of the instrument. Like Albright on “Just Like That”, Cox blends sensationally with Stevens on the memorable, enjoyable melody. “Hello World” is a lovely urban-jazz crossover cut, noted for its warm, lush vocals. McComb and Nothende exhibit solid vocal chemistry, making singing sound so effortless. On excellent penultimate cut “The One”, a soulful timbre characterizes, featuring flute, string patch, and perhaps most importantly, a gargantuan, buttressing bass line. Here, Stevens’s guitar lines easily pop out of the arrangement, in all of their beautiful glory. On “Your Embrace”, Carol Riddick seduces (“Your embrace it makes me feel so good…”), even if the cut ‘sits’ the slightest bit too long. On “Can’t Take No More”, the sole quibble might be that saxophonist Elan Trotman doesn’t have more soloing time to show off his joyous saxophone tone. Stevens navigates the tune superbly, focusing in on the lower register of the instrument.
All ‘said and done’, David P. Stevens’s Epiphany is by all means a great one. The arrangements/productions are well conceived while the guest musicians complement Stevens’ own musical ambitions. Stevens easily establishes himself as an ultra-talented and well-rounded musician with eclectic musical tastes and ideas; he doesn’t merely settle for being
pigeonholed. Epiphany is a great addition to the musical collection.
The Urban Music Scene