Most jazz trios offer pleasurable listening. Is it the simplicity (usually piano, bass and drums) of three musicians complementing each other in often a relaxed manner?

By that I mean once the number of musos in a band rises, say above six, there is a lot more work done by everybody feverishly reading the score, awaiting key changes and anticipating their solos.

If you listen to the Chip Stephens Trio on Relevancy you’ll see what I am getting at.

Visit his record company’s website and listen to the music: The CD is not available locally, so use the site for more info or to order the album.

Stevens (piano) leads the Trio with Dennis Carroll (bass) and a drummer, Joel Spencer, who reminds me so much of a young Shelley Manne in that he is not just there as part of the rhythm section, but he uses his kit as a musical instrument. Impressive!

Stephens has composed three of the tracks. Some of the other tunes featured are: Like Someone in Love (Van Heusen/Burke), This Funny World (Rodgers/Hart), Be My Love (Cahn/Brodsky) and Skiddo (Bill Evans).

Saxophonist Boney James’s album The Beat is available locally and will be snatched off the shelves by his fans and lovers of smooth jazz. The first track is Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing and it allows James to set the tone with his mellifluous soprano sax. The ubiquitous Rick Braun makes a guest appearance on the Brazilian hit Batucada.

The Beat will not appeal to traditional jazz lovers but, and I say it hesitantly, to younger jazz fans for whom smooth jazz is a way of life. This is a kick-back album for Saturday evenings and will certainly help lessen the stress of negotiating our so-called freeways (a misnomer since the advent of e-tolls).

• Contact me at [email protected] for a free subscription by e-mail to South Africa’s only international jazz magazine, The Jassman.


The competition today is

sponsored by Sheer Sound.

Competition question:

Boney James plays which instrument?

Please submit your entries only by e-mail. Submit only one entry per competition to: [email protected] and include your name, postal address and contact numbers as I call the winners and confirm the delivery address and the answers. Competitions close at noon on Saturday.