Chip Stephens


Chip Stephens, piano
Jeff Halsey, bass
Mark Gondor, drums

Bob Fraser, guitar

Track Listing

1. Polish Boy & Dirty Rice (Chip Stephens)

2. Only You Know (Chip Stephens)

3. Pillars of Strength (Bob Fraser)

4. Song For The Chocolate Grandson (Chip Stephens)

5. Boot Camp (Chip Stephens)

6. High Hopes (Bob Fraser)

7. Sweet & Lovely (Gus Arnheim, Harry Tobias, and Jules Lemarz)

8. Lover’s Rain Dance (Chip Stephens)

9. High Octane No Caffeine (Chip Stephens)

Total Playing Time [1.02:36]

February 1996

Pianist Chip Stephens belongs in the top echelon of area musicians. A veteran of the Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson bands, Stephens performs here with bassist Jeff Halsey, drummer Mark Gonder, and on some tracks, guitarist Bob Fraser. Chip Stephens also contributed six original compositions, most really substantive, not just springboards for improvisation. The elegy “Song for the Chocolate Grandson” and “Lover’s Raindanse,” a waltz, demonstrated his lyrical gift. His “Only You Know” and “High Octane No Caffeine,” as well as Fraser’s “Pillars of Strength” and “High Hopes” show both men’s ability to write rhythmically infectious and harmonically complex and sophisticated pieces.
Stephens draws his piano style from a number of sources, ncluding Bill Evans and Chick Corea. He has excellent technique, a pretty tone and swings easily. Fraser, a world class guitarist who’s chosen to remain in Cleveland, sounds very much at home, playing lucidly and inventively. He and Chip Stephens have many of the same musical values.

Among the best jazz albums cut by a local label.

– Harvey Pekar