Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio
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Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio

Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States | INDIE

Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Acoustic

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Jan
25
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio @ Performing Arts Center

Tullahoma, Tennessee, USA

Tullahoma, Tennessee, USA

Jan
24
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio @ Performing ARts Center

Tullahoma, Tennessee, USA

Tullahoma, Tennessee, USA

Jan
23
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio @ F Scott's

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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Press




"Get Out of Town"
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson | Imaginary Records

By Larry Taylor

Get Out of Town features one of many unheralded groups out there which begs to be heard--three relatively unknown musicians in a trio setting who have been working together for some 18 years.

Michael Jefry Stevens on piano, Jeff Siegel on drums and Tim Ferguson on bass--veterans of the New York scene--make up this cooperative trio. Their time as a unit shows in the cohesive arrangements, which give each ample solo time to show off their talent.
Get Out of Town includes five standards, along with four originals, each displaying their compositional expertise.

The band's originality is heard immediately in both the hard-edged, spiky arrangement of “Get Out of Town,” and the catchy rendition of “Jeepers Creepers,” with its fugue-like beginning and ending, as well as Ferguson's standout bass.
Stevens' “The Last Embrace” features Ferguson’s probing bass again, along with Siegel's delicate cymbal work. Starting out languidly, Stevens contributes mightily on piano, effectively taking the piece to an exciting climax.

Ferguson’s “Momentum” gives his bass room to shine, as he puts down a Latin beat. Utilizing his consummate technique, his momentum steadily increases, buoyed by the steady piano and drums. Siegel’s “Stealth” again shows off his excellent cymbal work as he pushes Stevens' repetitive and hypnotic chordal progressions.
Siegel’s serene “Peaceful” is highlighted by Ferguson’s bowed bass, a solid pillar off of which Stevens bounces a filigree of notes. The delicately swinging standard “Beautiful Friendship” is a good choice to conclude the CD, displaying the group's subtle ensemble voice, each member doing his thing while contributing to a beautiful whole.
- All About Jazz


Stevens, Siegel
& Ferguson,
Points of View
(Imaginary Records, 1997)

I don't have a clear memory of the first time I heard a live jazz band, but I do remember simultaneously enjoying the experience and being confused by it. Parts of the music and the talent behind it had obvious appeal, but the digressions, improvisations and rearrangements baffled me. My ears were as yet too unseasoned to grasp the full sound.

I don't specifically remember the music from that first live jazz band, either. Still, I'd like to think it might have been similar to Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson's Points of View, which presents the relaxed but focused sounds of piano, bass and drums as they run through a series of original compositions, jazz classics and other material. Michael Jefry Stevens, Jeff "Siege" Siegel and Tim Ferguson join to form a group that's well integrated but still allows plenty of space for each member to show off their considerable individual skills, both as gifted instrumentalists and as original composers. The varied compositions here, as expertly supported and expanded on by three considerable talents, gel to produce impressive results.

The 68-plus minutes of diverse yet cohesive music on Points of View provide ample examples of this approach. The trio's bouncy, nearly flippant arrangement of Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing" includes a nice slot for Siegel and Ferguson to trade and intertwine riffs, while Stevens' new arrangement of the tired "A Bicycle Built for Two" features beautifully wistful piano work and recasts the song as a sentimental look back at a simple pleasure from a less naive vantage point. The original Stevens composition "Almost a Rhythm Tune" is unexpectedly catchy, opening with a engaging drum and bass combination and a straight ahead melody before digressing into improvisations and discordant piano intensity, only to have the original sweet melody resurface later, just when it has been relegated to memory. "Threads," written by Siegel, builds on a blues base and maintains a quick percussive feeling of tension, with Siegel's drumming driving the song from underneath before surfacing for a solo slot in the song's midsection. Ferguson's "Astor's Place" flirts with tango, the buoyant energy it generates carrying into a set of exchanges between Ferguson's wide but mobile bass and Stevens' light flittering piano, with Siegel's drums keeping the song together and moving forward.

All told, Points of View presents a great deal of music to absorb, but it's an enjoyable and worthwhile effort, with new touches revealed upon each new listening. As a relative newcomer to the mystical arts of jazz, I still feel a bit confused by those whose knowledge of those arts so thoroughly outweighs my own, and Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson clearly fall into that category. But I've come to regard that confusion as a good sign that I'm learning. In this case, it's a sign that I'll be returning to Points of View again in the future as a humble student, one wishing to learn from these particular masters for some time to come.

[ by Ken Fasimpaur ]
- Rambles


Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson,
Triologue
(Imaginary, 2001)

The trio of Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson put together just over an hour of good, solid, instrumental jazz in Triologue. When I look at the length of the songs, part of me believes it should add up to more than an hour -- and I wish it did.

The trio is Michael Jeffrey Stevens (piano), Jeff "Siege" Siegel (drums) and Tim Ferguson (bass). The sounds from their instruments blend together smoothly. They are skilled and versatile musicians, at times painting vivid images with the music they create.

They start off with "Some Enchanted Evening" and they leave you feeling like you are walking outside as the sunset starts to ebb. "Vernazza" comes drifting in gently like the mist, a quiet piece of gentle beauty. The steady pulse in "This Nearly Was Mine" helps create a sense of hunger.

There is an elegance and at times a sense of dark pride in "Bloodcount," a song where the pianist's skill really shines. The drums get a chance to dance in "Tin Tin Deo," a song of celebration and joy. "Go Down Moses" starts off strong and returns time and time again to that powerful drive.

The power of "Petit Fleur" doesn't pull you in immediately; you know it is there, but it takes a moment to unfold. And then comes some amazing music in the form of "Eliza Isabella" -- I was already impressed with the music on the CD, but this one just blew me away. There is so much freshness and energy in the song. The CD ends off with "The Lockout," a much stricter and harsher piece with a looser feel.

Triologue is a well-crafted CD. The music is consistently very good, and at times magical. This is another fine slice of the music of the night.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]
Rambles: 23 March 2002


- Rambles


Points of View
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson | Imaginary Records
By John Barrett Jr.


These guys cover a lot of ground; you can tell by looking at the selections. The first three are the jazz perennial ?On Green Dolphin Street?, the ancient warhorse ?A Bicycle Built for Two?, and Ornette Coleman?s ?The Blessing?. (This was covered by John Coltrane, who is also represented here.) With confidence and a varied technique, they march on, aiming to state the old in a new way. Their aim is true.

?Green Dolphin? starts faster than normal, with a heavy left hand and the melody stated softly, almost as an afterthought. The cymbals slash, and Michael Stevens gets some funky licks in. Tim Ferguson?s bass is in the Scott LaFaro ?big guitar? mode, a departure from his normal deep sound. ?Bicycle? is slow and gentle, almost in George Winston territory. Along the path are some odd chords and sour notes, putting the bicycle in the 20th Century. The notes describe it as ?wistful?, and I will not argue. Stevens? approach, and Siegel?s drumwork, remind you of the Bill Evans trio. Some bleeps near the end might be the bell, as the bicycle drives away.

?The Blessing? (perhaps Ornette?s most conventional tune) is treated like the bop tune it sounds like. Ferguson is back to his old-school tone; in his varied use of the kit, Siegel sounds like Shelly Manne did in the ?Fifties. Stevens gets dissonant near the end, resolving into smooth chords and the theme. The rapid changing of spots is welcome in this song ? and this group; it?s one of their great skills.

?Threads? is a burner by Siegel; tons of drums and a very bluesy Stevens. He normally does this a few bars at a time; given a whole song to go blue, Stevens glows. Siegel?s solo rotates the kit ? the first section is cymbals, then snares, tom-toms, and a little bit of everything. A mournful bass opens ?Morning Song?, and the cheery piano dispels the night of the bass. This almost sounds like classical music, and a great example of sound painting a picture. As it progresses, Stevens gets more lush, and the sun keeps rising. A neat Stevens arrangement makes ?Yesterdays? sound like ?Giant Steps?! We then get a major solo from Siegel, a pensive Ferguson, and gentle chords from Stevens. Stevens? own solo is lyrical, with the little sourballs he likes throwing in. Another turn from Siegel, and we are back in Coltrane country, which prepares us for ?After the Rain?.

Ferguson strums a chord as Stevens gets tender. The bass soars, the drums sparkle. And Stevens comes on in a great crash of sound -?not Tyner level, but still impressive. He then gets active, with lots of little phrases played very fast ? Cecil Taylor. Siegel responds with pure thunder, and Stevens ends with little tinkles which I guess are the last of the raindrops.

And still the moods change. ?Almost a Rhythm Tune? is a forceful strutter, with high-stepping drums and ferocious bass. (As you?d expect, it?s sort of based on ?I Got Rhythm?.) Stevens is loud and depressed, ringing the off-center notes as he goes. ?Sir Roland? is Siegel?s tribute to his employer. It?s based on ?A Night in Tunisia? and Stevens becomes the funk merchant, dropping juicy chords everywhere. Ferguson is the solid bottom and Siegel goes wild. ?Astor?s Place? is an ominous tango, with bowed parts from Ferguson (in places he sounds like a baritone sax!) Stevens is warm, showing chords between clipped single notes. And ?Angel Eyes? gives us Latin rhythm and edgy piano. Stevens is lonely and depressed as night grows darker. The blues get stronger and so does the rhythm. Stevens gets real lush before the theme resumes and the loveliness returns. Alas, not for long; for that you need to hit the repeat button.

This takes the promise of the trio?s One of a Kind album and moves it further. The tunes are varied, the interplay is tremendous, and the performances are excellent. For anyone who thinks a piano trio can?t surprise them. - All About Jazz


Panorama
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson featuring Valery Ponomarev | Imaginary Records
By John Barrett Jr.


Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson with Valery Ponomarev ? PANORAMA. Imaginary Records 010; Released 1998. The last two SS&F records were strictly trios; while the group enjoys exploring their dynamics, this time they wanted more. Jeff Siegel says ?we also enjoy mixing it up with other players ? particularly horn players?; Tim Ferguson wanted ?a special person ? able to contribute to it without disrupting its delicate balance.? That person was one-time Jazz Messenger Valery Ponomarev, who brought his talent and his three horns. The trio?s intimate interplay (they played togerther nine years) is there as always, but the new voice changes how the others react, and it changes the flavor of the disc. Don?t worry ? it?s still delicious.

The piano charges strong on Siegel?s ?Magical Spaces?, a blues in 6/8. While Stevens riffs loud, the theme by Valery is soft ? it seems that he is comping for Stevens ! Valery?s solo is bolder, and tied close to the theme. Stevens hits the strong chords, sounding even more like Tyner than he did at the top. Valery wails high, and then falls down the stairs in a great series of tumbles. Stevens? solo is strong, with much of the mood from his opening riff. Siegel?s work is full, with plenty or cymbals ? appropriately, he sounds like Elvin Jones. Ferguson is more in the sideman role than on the trio dates; he is felt as a force, but is not a dominant musical presence.

Ferguson takes a funk turn on Ornette?s ?Lonely Woman?; Stevens is sparse and bitter, in keeping with the airy sound. As this is Ornette, Valery picks up the pocket trumpet; his tone is full, and more assertive than the opener. Stevens starts his solo quiet, then builds a pattern which keeps getting faster. The other instruments are silenced as Stevens keeps moving, up to the Cecil Taylor level. Then he stops, and all is quiet taps and the occasional pluck. Valery solos without the piano; now Siegel goes wild, and when Stevens returns, it adds depth to the sound. A little more fury, and it returns to the mood it came in on.

?Julie?s Tabouleh? opens on a carnival atmosphere, with a sunny theme; the opening is ?Airegin?, and the chords are close to ?Indiana?. Ferguson gets his first solo, a fancy thing with active fingers. Valery is a joy; he dances while the cymbals urge him on. Stevens is bluesy, slamming the keys to major effect. Siegel?s solo reminds me of Cozy Cole?s on ?Topsy?, and the carnival returns.

The trumpet is one thing you notice; another is the quality of the original songs. Siegel?s ?Blue Heart? has a great feel that recalls the early ?Sixties. (Stevens, with a dash of Wynton Kelly, rules this number.) Ferguson?s efforts are fun, especially the closer, ?You Wait Here?. A piano tune if there ever was one, Stevens runs wild, and Valery will not be ignored. He brings two tunes, and ?For You Only? is wonderful. These are generally simple, tuneful frameworks for the players to stretch on. With this level of interplay, it?s all they need.

Valery reacts throughout: more than a ?guest star?, he does many things to meld with the group sound. On ?dedication?, he is mellow and busy, he wrings the vibrato on ?For You Only?, is brassy on ?Blues for Elena?, and mutes up a storm on ?Angelica?. His approach varies with the frequency of Stevens?, which makes him perfect for the group. He really shines on his own ?For You Only?, a soft ballad with singing trumpet and a creeping bass solo. While Valery had known these guys before this, it?s the first time he?s recorded with the trio. You?ll wish it came sooner.

While some tracks are adventurous (?Magical Spaces?, ?Lonely Woman?), this is mostly straight-ahead swinging. Ponomarev is warm or hot as needed, Stevens impresses me as always, and the rapport is tremendous. It?s a loving look at the trio, and how they react in new surroundings. As you might expect, very well indeed.


- All About Jazz


One of a Kind
By John Barrett Jr.

The piano trio has been a staple of jazz forever, and one would think all the approaches have been found. Regardless of who the ?leader? is, the trio?s sound is almost always led by the personality of the pianist. If I mention ?simultaneous improvisation?, you will likely think of Bill Evans-type introspection. This group belongs in neither category. You get plenty of interplay, but you also get the straightforward charge of the traditional trio. It?s a refreshing sound ? one of a kind? Well, I?ve never heard it before?

The title tune opens with Michael Stevens, playing the strong riff with his left hand. You know it?s something different when the backing chords come from the right hand! Come the tune proper, the right hand resumes its typical primacy, and Tim Ferguson picks up the riff dropped by the piano. Jeff Siegel?s drums are light and hyperactive, and he doesn?t skimp on the cymbals. He reminds you of Elvin Jones, while Stevens evades classification. While pounding the riff, Stevens is apt to add chords or a note to make you go ?What?? While this is happening, Siegel picks up the volume, and his part doesn?t seem to go with the time. (It?s not as ?timeless? as Joe Morello?s solo on ?Take Five?, but it is a surprise.) While remaining in the parameters, the group has done something startling. In five minutes, they manage to stand apart from the other trios you?ve heard.

?Waltz for Zweetie? shows the group in the familiar Bill Evans mold. It?s one long bass solo, and Ferguson sings as he plucks it, partly with the old-fashioned fat sound and partly with the LaFaro ?guitar? style. Stevens is soft for most of this; on his solo he steps out, and we hear a little blues, a smidgen of Tyner intensity, and what sounds like a quote of ?Spartacus?. Then all is sedate, and Siegel?s brushes work overtime as the last of the tinkles fade away.

?The Moffett Family? is a grand old blues, but it?s 16 bars long, and in 6/8! The full chords ring, and Siegel clicks strongly. Stevens? solo goes into double time, with percussive slams on the uppermost keys. All goes quiet as Ferguson goes deep: the tones are round and full of that ?wood? sound. The clock ticks off ?Caravan?, and Stevens gives the theme, playing it with both hands at once. Siegel begins to get complex; Stevens chords on the bridge. Ferguson?s deep solo is mostly obscured by Siegel?s frenzy. Stevens has a brief solo, and returns to the theme in a long fadeout, when we hear the caravan go off into the sunset.

Stevens? ?Jazz Tune? is a funky thing, a 12-bar almost-blues. (The structure is A-B-C, for those who care about such things.) Stevens gets lush on the exchanges; Siegel starts simple and builds, as is his wont. Siegel?s ?Habitat? is a tender 6/8, with exotic cymbals. Stevens starts subdued, and goes through some crazy mood swings. Romantic leads to bluesy leads to lush, and then to quietude. Stevens then THINKS his comping for Ferguson?s solo (that?s what it sounds like; you can barely hear it!) Siegel is more active on this set of exchanges, and this one closes as intensity INCREASES ? a nice touch.

?I Fall in Love Too Easily? begins with lovely high notes and becomes a typical Evans ballad. He fiddles a bit with a loping phrase, and is tender as anything (there also a near-quote of ?Django?.) ?Sunrise in Mexico? sets up a tough bass riff, and a quavering piano to show an ominous climate. Stevens sounds nervous, darting to and fro, even using some Vince Guaraldi chords! Siegel?s ?Lenny? is a tender samba; Stevens begins his solo with slides, then plays with a series of patterns, lastly ending in thick chords as the left hand answers back. It?s friendly and distinctive ? like the trio itself. - All About Jazz


Triologue
(Imaginary)
reviewed in issue #223, 10/15/01

I like these guys. I've reviewed all of their albums, and each time I come away impressed once more. This is just a classic piano jazz trio: Michael Jefry Stevens on the bench, Jeff Siegel on drums and Tim Ferguson on bass (stand up, of course). Three players, each of whom has his own style and way of approaching the material.

And, as usual, that material is rather varied. A couple songs from "South Pacific," a Billy Strayhorn piece, something from Sidney Bechet, a spiritual and a song which is best known for receiving the Dizzy Gillespie treatment. Oh yeah, each member contributes a song as well.

Which makes this set the least "original" of the trio's four albums, at least in terms of songwriting. Of course, the real trick in jazz is taking a song, no matter who wrote it, and finding something new inside of it. Making that piece your own, if just for a moment. Stevens, Siegel and Ferguson seem to have an instinctive knack for just that.

Of course, such "instincts" are earned by years of hard work. As a trio, these three men take their time working out the various pieces of a song, taking one and then another on a spin around the floor before coming together at the end for a smart summation. Yeah, that's standard theory, but when a trio has the chops and creativity of these three, the "formula" yields beautiful music. The song selection, arrangements and playing are all first rate. This is, quite simply, great jazz. - A&A


Stevens, Siegel, & Ferguson
Triologue
(Imaginary Records - 2001)
by John Barrett

Piano trios have a tough task: to play familiar music in unfamiliar ways. To do it well, the musicians must be thoughtful, and give to the notes a sense of adventure. These guys have been doing it for many years - "Some Enchanted Evening" start swiftly, in the mold of a young Bill Evans. Tim Ferguson's bass leaps out front in a hurry; his notes are brittle, and barely connected to the music around him. Michael Stevens twinkles the high keys with his high hand; the left makes a few chords, but these are rare. The result is recognizable as "Enchanted Evening", but not mawkish and certainly not boring. In comparison, "This Nearly Was Mine" is decidedly abstract. Ferguson handles the theme, snapping the strings; Jeff Siegel clicks the drumsticks fast, for a very nervous mood. In the background, Stevens plays a persistent, Tyner-like vamp; in time he picks up the theme, while Ferguson covers his vamp. "Vernazza" has the feel of an MJQ track, with thick bass, powerful drums, and a graceful, fluttering melody. "Bloodcount" is slow and mournful (Stevens is practically alone when he plays this) and "Tin Tin Deo" pits blunt drumbeats against an equally percussive piano. Music can't be better - or stronger - than this.

"Go Down Moses" starts as a thunderous dirge - Siegel rumbles deeply on tom-toms, and Ferguson scrapes away on the bass. After the first chorus, it transforms into a sleek waltz … while retaining its sadness. Tim is slippery on "Petit Fleur"; he states the old tune in tight single notes and muscular slides. When Michael enters, it's a murmur, and he gives to the number a classical grandeur. "The Lockout" walks with a rigid lockstep - until the bridge, where it turns bluesy and sardonic. Siegel is generous with the drumbeats, using them everywhere and in every context. Ferguson strums on his solo, and Stevens has a good barroom chorus. The tune moves in uncertain directions but sounds great doing it - that also can be said of this group, and their album. - All About Jazz


Discography

SSF Discography on
Imaginary Jazz Records

One of a Kind (Imaginary Records) - 1995
Points of View (Imaginary Records)- 1997
Panorama (Imaginary Records)- 1999
Triologue (Imaginary Records)- 2000
Get out of Town (Imaginary Records) - 2006
Six (Konnex Records) - 2010

Photos

Bio

Tim Ferguson has been working as a bassist in New York City since 1989. He has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe with a wide variety of groups including: The George Cables Trio, The Tony Scott Quartet and vocalist Vanessa Rubin. He has appeared in recordings and live performances with many well known jazz artists including; Don Friedman, Eddie Harris, Mel Lewis, and The Village Vanguard Orchestra, among others. Bass World Magazine calls him A fine young bassist who plays with a warm and woody sound and whose solos are tasteful, balanced and never overplayed. Ferguson can be heard on many CDs including: My Foolish Heart, on the Steeplechase label with pianist Don Friedman, and the recently released Perspectives from the Tom Dempsey/Tim Ferguson Quartet. He acted as musical consultant for the academy award winning feature film Ray starring Jamie Fox and has also appeared as a bassist in two episodes of the television series Spin City starring Michael J. Fox. Ferguson is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and William Paterson College and has taught as an adjunct instructor at New York University, SUNY New Paltz, The New School and Western Michigan University.

Pianist/Composer Michael Jefry Stevens performs extensively in Europe and North America. He has composed over 350 works for both large and small ensemble. Over 100 of these works are currently recorded and broadcast throughout the world on various radio networks. Michael has been an active pianist/composer and band-leader for the past 30 years. He has released over 50 cds featuring his original music on numerous jazz record labels, including Leo Records, Drimala Records, Soul Note Records, Konnex Records, Music and Arts, Red Toucan Records, GM Recordings, 482 Music and most recently the Polish label Nottwo Records. Artists he has performed and/or recorded with include Dave Douglas, Mark Feldman, Han Bennink, Charles Moffett, Cecil Bridgewater, Valery Ponomarev, Harold Vick, Gerry Hemingway, Miles Griffith, Pheeroan Aklaff, Billy Martin, Leo Smith, Ben Monder, Thomas Chapin, Gebhard Ullmann, Herb Robertson, Bill Goodwin, Matt Wilson, Dominic Duval and Dave Liebman. He was a 2005 composer fellow at Centrum Arts in Port Towsend (WA), the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow for 2000-2001 at the MacDowell Colony, received 2nd prize in the 1999 Monaco International Jazz Composition Contest, and has been the recipient of numerous Meet the Composer grants. Michael is currently on the faculty of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.

Drummer Jeff Siege Siegel has performed and/or recorded with a diverse group of jazz artists ranging from veteran performers such as Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Wadada Leo Smith, Jack DeJohnette, Baikida Carroll and Mose Allison to those a generation below such as Dave Douglas, Ravi Coltrane, Stefon Harris, Kurt Elling, Graham Haynes and Steve Turre. He was a member of the Sir Roland Hanna Trio from 1994-1999. He is the leader of The Jeff Siege Siegel Quartet. and has been described by Jazz World Magazine as a brilliant drummer. His 2005 debut cd as a bandleader Magical Spaces on the CAP label was critically acclaimed by several publications including All Music Guide , whose critic Scott Yanow wrote Jeff Siege Siegels compositions are colorful and original, not having any major debt to an obvious predecessor. Some of the songs ...could possibly become future standards. Veteran Jazz Artist Jimmy Heath recently noted ..."Magical Spaces" is the kind of CD that you want to listen to over and over. Jeff's musicality is incredible.. A sampling of Sieges discography includes: Ryan Kisors Minor Mutiny (Columbia) and Arthur Rhames Trio Live From Soundscape (DIW). Jeff is also on the faculties of S.U.N.Y. at New Paltz as well as Western Connecticut State University. He is an endorsing artist for Vic Firth Drumsticks.

Band Members