Peace in Time
His former teacher Brian Lynch describes 23-year-old pianist Steven Feifke as “a virtuoso and a highly communicative and creative musician.” Feifke lives up to his mentor’s high praise on his first recording, Peace in Time. Leading a septet consisting of fellow twentysomething musicians from New York City, Feifke delivers robust straightahead jazz marked by complex arrangements and passionate playing.
A native of Lexington, Massachusetts, and a graduate of NYU, Feifke was a semifinalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk Competition. Although barely out of college, the pianist has already built an impressive résumé. In addition to his septet, Feifke leads an 18-piece big band that often appears in the New York metro area.
Peace in Time includes nine originals along with Monk’s “Evidence,” Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” and Vernon Duke’s “Autumn in New York.” The arrangements allow for plenty of improvising, and while the interplay is excessively busy at times, the bandmates’ exuberance is infectious, their chops imposing.
Highlights include “The Missing Feeling II,” an upbeat soul-jazz tune; “Second Wind,” a swinging Art Blakey-like number; and “Song for Ben and Gidi,” another bubbly track with spirited exchanges between Feifke and bassist Raviv Markovitz, who have been friends since preschool. Feifke and his septet have developed a potent chemistry through frequent gigging, and their animated exchanges reveal genuine enjoyment.
A masterful pianist with an acute sense of harmony, Feifke is a powerful presence whether soloing or comping. Jimmy Macbride sets a vigorous pace on drums, and the horn section of Benny Benack III (trumpet and flugelhorn), Andrew Gould (alto sax) and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (tenor sax) is ultra snappy, particularly on a shifty rendition of “Nica’s Dream.” Alex Wintz plays lyrical acoustic guitar on the mellow title track and makes the most of his few solos on electric guitar.
Even discounting the relative youth of Feifke and his bandmates, Peace in Time is an impressive post-bop debut. —Ed Kopp