Matthew Stevens and Justin Brown
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Guitarist and composer Matthew Stevens released Preverbal, his second album as a bandleader, in March 2017. The record is a visceral statement, a kinetic exploration of harmony and rhythm driven by Stevens’s masterful playing and singular melding of elements of experimental, jazz, and rock. The album blooms and disintegrates over eight original songs that are immersive and muscular, dark and joyous. Preverbal was recorded with Stevens’s core band of Eric Doob on drums and Vicente Archer bass, plus synthesizer and deft touches of sound manipulation and studio craft. It also features a soaring guest vocal appearance from Esperanza Spalding on album closer “Our Reunion.”
Stevens’s sophomore album as bandleader comes on the heels of a big 2016: he played an integral role in the recording and sound of Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution—one of the best albums of the year—and toured the globe as part of her power trio. He also has collaborated extensively with Christian Scott, acting as his musical director, performing on all of his recordings, and composing music.
Justin Brown, a 33-year-old native of Oakland, California, is an extremely busy musician whose drumming with Thundercat, Gerald Clayton, Christian McBride, Stefon Harris, and Esperanza Spalding is a foretaste of his brilliant debut album as a leader with his band Nyeusi. Part of a California-based crew that includes best friends Thomas Pridgen and Ronald Bruner, Brown is grace and fire to their pummel and power. Nyeusi—which also features keyboardists Jason Lindner and Fabian Almazan, bassist Burniss Travis, and EWI wind-controller player Mark Shim—ties together past, present, and future, with Brown helming the group with musical invention and drumming wit.