Tracks: (MP3 samples)
Total time 54:42
All compositions spontaneously generated by Tim Stevens
Life’s undertow: improvisations RF108
Life’s undertow is the second solo piano release from Melbourne improvising pianist Tim Stevens. It follows Freehand (RF058) released all of ten years ago as the second instalment in the ‘Invitation Solo Piano Series’ on Rufus Records. There, the program was evenly divided between free improvisations and pieces with composed elements, but on Undertow the music is entirely improvised.
Tim Stevens was the recipient last year of a Professional Development Award from the Australasian Performing Right Association, and an element in the prize was a day’s recording at Studios 301. Tim used this day for the present album, in a session engineered by Simon Todkill.
The music draws on jazz influences, but endeavours to extend the language Tim has developed as a student of classical music, as well as in his role as the composer for his own trio. This trio’s four albums, also on Rufus Records, have featured his compositions alongside spontaneous collective improvisations, and the band’s aim has always been to demonstrate a continuity between the written and the improvised.
So it is with Life’s undertow. The forms of some of the pieces belie their origins as improvisations, but each one of them is the product of a constantly exploring musical mind. The ten selections range from the stillest, most reflective mood to moments of considerable complexity and energy, and the harmonic palette is, as followers of Stevens may expect, very sophisticated. Rich in varied character and consistently engaging, the music on Life’s undertow is both challenging, consoling and rewarding.
‘Deeply reflective [and] totally absorbing.‘
‘Where many solo piano albums fall into the trap of sounding similar throughout, Stevens has constructed a suite of ten pieces in which each has its own distinct character. It seems that with each piece Stevens has taken a different approach to the task of creating something from nothing. Even with the variety of moods on offer the album hangs together as a unified whole. This is not an easy thing to achieve.‘
‘This collection of improvisations is thoughtfully introspective and impressive […]
It takes the listener into a varied and quite beautiful soundscape [and] has much to offer in terms of the pianist's perceptive originality.‘