Yesterday, we published the first review in my new series the “Review Round-up”. Each month in this series, I’ll be doing number of short and to the point reviews of the new releases that hit my desk each month and have peaked my attention. These albums have either recently been released or are due for release in the next week or two.
The first cab off the rank was pianist David Six’s opening to his new trilogy “Dance With The Ghosts” and in this edition I’ll take look at a new album set for release on Whirlwind recording by Sultan Stevenson titled “Faithful One”. Coming up next week, I’ll give you my thoughts on a new album to come out of New York by drummer and composer Ilya Dynov titled “Bridges” and close out this months reviews with an album that particularly grabbed my attention from Saxophonist Nora Kam. So let’s get in to it.
Sultan Stevenson – Faithful One
At the young age of twenty-two, Sultan Stevenson seems to be making some waves on the UK scene and if his debut album “Faithful One” is a predictor of the future then Sultan Stevenson will no doubt become a name on the lips of every jazz fan.
Based in London with roots in the Caribbean Sultan is a product of both Tomorrow’s Warriors and the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy (JJJA). This album, set for release on the 24th of March on Whirlwind Recordings, contains a set of 11 tracks all composed and arranged by Stevenson. The main focus of the album is based around a trio of Stevenson on piano alone with bassist Jacob Gryn and Joel Waters on drums. expanding the line-up on 5 of the 11 tracks is Josh Short on trumpet and Denys Baptiste on tenor saxophone.
The press release for this album cited influences as McCoy Tyner, Geri Allen, Herbie Hancock and Kenny Kirkland and yes, these influences are definitely front and center however on further listening you can hear that there is a smell of something deeper going on here and not just a clone of the aforementioned players.
The album starts with a short introduction before segueing to the first full track titled “Guilty by Association” and it’s here that the scene is set for the rest of the album. Performed in the trio format, there is a sense of space here that displays a sense of maturity that is beyond the years that Sulatan has been on this earth. Stevenson’s playing is strong yet not overtly “in your face”. This is is often the case with young musicians with an abondance of technique.
The following track “Prayer” introduces us to the two horn guests in a soulful lament that evokes some of the late 1960’s compositions by Mingus. In my opinion these two tracks form the outer poles that this album is built around. Within these two extremes we have trio tracks that certainly have a Tyner-esque flavor such as to be seen in ‘To Be Seen” and the Ballad “Thank you, Thank you God”. On the other hand we have the more contemporary side of the proceedings such as the title track “Faithful One”.
All in all, this is one impressive debut and I’m quietly convinced that Sultan Stevenson will build quite a solid career from these foundations. This album is certainly one not to miss.
In May of 2023 Sultan’s trio are embarking on UK wide tour in support of the release where he will be joined by Jacob Gryn, Joel Waters, Josh Short and special guest Ruben Fox. However if you can’t wait for this, Sultan will be launching the album at The Jazz Cafe in London on Friday 31st March. More details can be found here.
The album will be released on Whirlwind Recordings on the 24th of March. In the meantime you can hear the single “Guilty by Association” on our Spotify “New Release” playlist.
New Release Spotify Playlist
The Jazz In Europe New Release playlist features tracks from the new releases featured on Jazz In Europe. Updated weekly, this playlist is the perfect place to discover new music from the leading jazz musicians currently on the scene. We hope you enjoy this selection.
Last modified: September 10, 2023