Tim Stevens

Primary Instrument: Piano

Born: October 23, 1971    

Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens is an improvising pianist, composer and scholar based in Melbourne, Australia. He studied at the Victorian College of the Arts (MMus, 1996) and the University of Melbourne (PhD, 2000), graduating from the latter with a thesis entitled 'The Origins, Development and Significance of the Red Onion Jazz Band, 1960-1996'.

Between 1995 and 2000 he was a member of the co-operative trio Browne - Haywood - Stevens, with Allan Browne (drums) and Nick Haywood (bass), and this band released two CDs: 'King, Dude and Dunce' (Newmarket, 1996) and 'Sudden in a shaft of sunlight' (ABC Jazz, 1998)...
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Ian Potter Music Commission, 2001
APRA Professional Development Award, 2011

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‘delightful…Unsentimental yet emotionally arresting, it’s an uncompromising solo debut that lays bare Stevens’s challenging, rewarding and unpredictable movements.’ (Ashleigh Wilson, 'The Weekend Australian', regarding 'Freehand')

‘a mixture of dynamism, lyricism and exploration wrapped inside unstinting discipline…Always on the way to somewhere, his lines unfolding with spellbinding logic. Though the control of dynamics can be dazzling it’s the rigorous organisation of his ideas which takes centre place…He sounds unlike anyone else and is satisfyingly mature.’ (Shane Nichols, and 'Australian Financial Review', regarding 'Freehand')

‘Rather than focusing on percussive assaults or other feats of piano prowess, the goal is to capture the other side of the spectrum by utilizing a delicate touch, subtle passions, joy and introspection. Most of Stevens’ performances demonstrate his interest in fleshing out melodic concepts, as this is the heart of his experimentations…Stevens’ command of his instrument is particularly impressive when utilizing dynamics and space. [He] successfully accomplishes his goal of improvisation and captures beauty at its essence.’ (Jay Collins, 'Cadence', regarding 'Freehand')

'This is an impressive trio, led by the pianist Tim Stevens (now at the Victorian College of the Arts), who has contributed all nine compositions, but within a context where Ben Robertson (bass) and Dave Beck (drums) carry equal responsibilities with the pianist for the ensemble. This they all do with high skill and impeccable good taste. Stevens is a disciplined, accomplished pianist with a touch shaped by the impressionistic, introspective tradition introduced to jazz piano by Bill Evans, Robertson has a lovely sound, coupled with a strong melodic sense and accurate intonation and Beck is a sympathetic drummer, with complete control of every aspect of his kit and equally interesting whether using sticks or brushes. It is a pleasure to listen to such a well rehearsed unit wherein each player is so well tuned to the others.' (Ted Nettelbeck, 'Music Forum', regarding 'Nine open questions')

‘[T]his interaction borders on the telepathic and owes strong allegiance to the trios captained by the great Bill Evans…Of all the threesomes reviewed in this column, these fellows are the most integrated and intertwined in their music making.’ (Larry Hollis, 'Cadence', regarding 'Nine open questions')

'Tim Stevens has perhaps the lightest touch of all Australian jazz pianists. Certainly he has the quietest sound.

'Yet in person his playing has real presence. On disc you should turn the volume up to experience his singular opalescence.

'It seemed unlikely his trio would produce a series of free improvisations, but there they are in the most compelling of their discs. Free improvisation is as often meditative as it is clamorous. There are brief sharp clamours here, but this is essentially an essay in space and tone. It is very compositional, with each instrument working against the others thoughtfully.

'The music unfolds with engrossing logic, exploiting the drama of the pause and sudden lyrical flow. It allows the players - particularly drummer Dave Beck - to expose new expressive potentials.

'The opening suite, inspired by the Chinese painting, Three Friends Of Winter, is thoroughly unified and beautiful. For all the decades of practising technique and learning traditional rules, Chinese paintings are often executed with great spontaneity. The Tim Stevens Trio has found a musical equivalent.' (John Clare, 'Sydney Morning Herald', regarding 'Three friends in winter')

'Beautiful, buoyant...logical development and sensitive and lyrical interaction. It brings to mind Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, whose works feature changes wrought within a highly disciplined concept...Close listening to subtleties will be rewarded but such listening should be relaxed, as the music is. The sound of the trio, its textures and sonorities, is a joy in itself.

'Within a wealth of Australian piano trio music, it is singular.' (John Clare, 'Sydney Morning Herald', regarding 'Mickets')

'There are...plenty of rewards for the attentive listener in these eight Stevens originals and the classical 'Litanies', by French organist/composer Jehan Alain. The player’s deep empathy helps to maintain an organic whole amid subtle, yet profound, changes of tempo and mood.

'It’s understated, individual music, with variety and depth. In 'Rufus Redux' there’s a relaxed intricacy, but plenty of rhythmic energy. The delicacy of 'Prologue-like' and the somber feel of ballads 'Pray Without Ceasing' and 'The Body Desolate as a Staircase' contrast with the stronger, driving piano and bass in 'Our Little Systems' and 'Sly-Pie'.' (Roger Mitchell, 'Sunday Herald Sun', regarding 'Mickets')

'Tim Stevens [is] one of our most eloquent piano stylists. He has a lovely touch, a melody-aware approach to improvising, and for all his fluency, tends to edit out any superfluous gestures in his solos...These three are highly compatible musicians.' (Adrian Jackson, 'Limelight', regarding 'Mickets')

'Stevens is an improviser of endless melodic inventiveness and seemingly inexhaustible harmonic knowledge. He is clearly a diligent student of jazz tradition, yet he eschews imitation and cliché...[This] is as instructive as it is infectious, the perfect amalgam of the cerebral and the visceral.' (Aaron Searle, 'Music Forum', regarding 'Mickets')

'All the pieces are improvised, in the moment, although some of them sound as though they could be compositions, because they’re just so perfectly formed. It’s a really, really lovely album.' (Jessica Nicholas, ABC Jazz Online, regarding 'Life's Undertow')

'[A] gifted improviser and an especially thoughtful musician, [Stevens] has a new solo CD that has been demanding a lot of my spare time during the past few weeks and affording me much pleasure. It strikes me as one of the most original and radical recordings of improvised jazz I have heard. So if I tell you that it sounds neither especially improvised nor very much like jazz, that is not intended as a criticism, more an indication of just how original and radical it is.' (Andrew Ford, Inside Story
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