Tim Stevens Trio




The ease with which a famed Schumann fragment (the first movement of his Kinderszenen) slots in among pianist/composer Tim Stevens’ own nine pieces tells us much. Stevens’ playing has an elegant formality that can sometimes conjure up the ghost of John Lewis (of the Modern Jazz Quartet), and also has a rigour that inclines him away from sentimentality, but not from beauty of line. Perhaps that’s the same rigour that, in 2016, saw him write a tune a day: 366 pieces in a leap year.

All his compositions here are derived from that marathon effort, and are then warmed over by the interaction between Stevens, bassist Ben Robertson and drummer Dave Beck. This trio has been together for over 16 years, and you hear the ease with which they weave in and out of each other, while fulfilling quite specific functions. Robertson’s lyricism softens the music, while Beck adds to its tautness, and Stevens is the glue. I prefer the results when the arrangements aren’t too busy, with the crystalline Most Miraculous Accident and the solo Lofts admirably showing off Stevens’ composing, while the playful Little Kids Holding Hands highlights the enduring three-way simpatico.