No gimmicks. No bells and
whistles. But plenty of originality. That’s what you’ll get with
Peace in Time (2015), the debut of pianist Steven Feifke. This
23-year-old rising star has already touched the world, as his
compositions and arrangements have been performed by several artists.
Performing with Feifke are Benny Benack, trumpet and flugelhorn; Andrew
Gould, alto saxophone; Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, tenor saxophone; Alex Wintz,
guitar; Raviv Markovitz, bass; and Jimmy Macbride, drums.
“Am I Still There for You?” is prefaced by a solo piano intro. The
actual song begins softly, with the tenor and the guitar blending for
the lead with only bass and piano underneath. The melody weaves a series
of intricate phrases. Then after one pass, the alto and trumpet enter,
making for a bright, charming sound. The pace and mode conjure a visual
of a couple dancing the waltz but without the one-two-two note pattern
typical of waltz music. As the instruments swell and fade in time, with
one stepping out for a transition or solo, the dancing couple dips and
twirls, changing their steps every so often to reflect the evolving
passion. What they do when the horns grow in intensity and overlap one
another may be best left to the imagination. Lefkowitz-Brown stands out
during the intense parts. During the dancing couple’s afterglow, the
music softens again with Feifke taking point for the conclusion.
The horns are blazing on “Wollongong.” Though there are only two saxes
and a trumpet, they give this the sound of a big band. In an ensemble
where are the players leave a mark, it’s worth noting that Gould stands
out. His blistering solo is like something you might expect from Kenny
Garrett or John Coltrane. At times, he’s frantic but clearly in control.
Piano, bass and drums keep busy in the background. Then after another
pass at the melody, it becomes a free-for-all with the horns and piano,
each doing its thing. That’s until the song shifts gears for the finale.
It becomes a softer, moderate tune with Feifke out front. The horns
carry a complementary melody, with bass and drums holding it all
“The Coast” features a guitar/piano duet on the melody, with the horns
backing. Then a sunny call and response between Banack and the others.
On the second pass, the horns join piano and guitar. Feifke takes it to
town during his moment in the spotlight. Wintz follows, emulating a bit
of Wes Montgomery. The song wraps up with all involved, locked in
individually while also giving the others space.
Feifke moved to New York City in 2009. Among the venues and artists he
has performed at or with are Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Center, Chris
Potter and Brian Lynch. In the fall of 2011, Feifke was selected as a
semifinalist to the Thelonious Monk Competition. He composed nine of the
songs on Peace in Time and arranged covers of compositions by
Monk, Horace Silver and Vernon Duke.