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(Published: July 11, 2012)

"Michael is one of the most involved, sensitive, and musical drummers I have known -- plus he swings!! Calling him a drummer isn't really good enough -- he inhales the music and gives you a lovely breeze in return."

-- Bob Brookmeyer

Michael Stephans' first two recordings as a leader (the first, OM/ShalOM, features both Bennie Maupin and Dave Liebman; and the second, NOMADS, is a series of multi-instrumental duets with Liebman) exhibits the range of his imagination and skills as both drummer and as a producer.

This new recording is an exciting, evocative quartet date that covers a lot of ground and features one of the brilliant new voices on the NYC jazz scene, pianist Jim Ridl, who also contributed two pieces to the date. Bassist Steve Varner (whose virtuosity as a painter is very much in evidence on the CD's cover) is a solid team player and delightfully angular soloist. And violinist Zach Brock shines and burns throughout.

"Our aim on this recording was to offer a true diversity of sounds, moods, and feelings throughout. As a result, no two tracks are alike; yet they move effortlessly from one to the the other, making OPEN SPACES a seamless listening experience."

Stephans, while not exactly a high profile name, has an impressive track record: he has played and/or recorded with jazz luminaries as diverse as Bennie Maupin, Dave Liebman, Pharoah Sanders, Bob Brookmeyer, Alan Broadbent, John Patitucci, Uri Caine, Scott Colley, Marty Ehrlich, Vic Juris, Bob Dorough, and many others.

He was awarded a composition grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and composed an ensemble piece called SHAPES AND VISIONS for vibraphonist Karl Berger, which was performed at the Museum of Natural history in Washington DC.

Stephans,. the recipient of a Ph.D and two Masters Degrees, is also a writer and poet whose forthcoming book on jazz, THE JAZZ EXPERIENCE: A LISTENER'S COMPANION, is due to be published by Scarecrow Press before year's end.

A new recording with co-leader Dave Liebman and the Lineage Ensemble is slated for release sometime early in the new year.

In addition to his own projects, Stephans is also a member of The Bennie Maupin Ensemble, and Lineage, which he co-leads with saxophonist Liebman. He has also performed recently with both the Alan Broadbent Trio and the Alembic trio (an occasional group with John Patitucci and Liebman).

More Information: http://www.michaelstephans.com

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