The talent emanating from this young musician is electrifying, and it’s only the beginning.
Sultan Stevenson (piano); Jacob Gryn (double bass), Joel Waters (drums), Josh Short (trumpet) and special guest Denys Baptiste (tenor saxophone)
Recorded May 3rd, 4th, 2022
Sultan Stevenson represents a new and exciting time in our current jazz scene. Nurtured by Tomorrow’s Warriors and the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, Stevenson has emerged as a musical force to be reckoned with, with his incredible debut release alongside Whirlwind Recordings: Faithful One.
This album is a definitive representation of Stevenson’s individual style, influences, and technical abilities; it is a mature and calculated record, stemming from a special place within the composer.
The album was recorded over two days in May 2022 at Knight Time Studios, funded by the Tottenham Grammar School Foundation and Help Musicians. The album features trio and quintet tracks, with Jacob Gryn on bass, Joel Waters on drums, Josh Short on trumpet and Denys Baptiste on tenor saxophone- an essential connection to the primary generation of Tomorrow’s Warriors.
Heritage and faith emerge as central themes throughout the album, laced beautifully into Stevenson’s compositional and improvisational decisions. Sultan Stevenson is a Londoner with roots in the Caribbean, and a distinct connection to his ever-present Christian beliefs.
Everything that Sultan is as a musician and an individual is exhibited on ‘Faithful One’, making it an intimate and wonderful introduction to this up-and-coming young pianist and composer.
Right from the opening track ‘Foreword’, the chemistry between Sultan Stevenson and his trio is undeniable. The way the band travel between moments of intensity and softness is remarkable, providing constant surprise when listening. ‘Guilty by Association’ is built around this striking motif that reappears throughout.
The way Sultan manipulates changes in feel and time signature is compelling and demonstrates great compositional control. ‘Prayer’ and ‘Thank you, Thank you God’ are prominent moments of introspection on the album.
From the shimmering intro and stunning harmonic transitions, Stevenson musically illustrates the significance of his faith in his general life and music.
Having known Sultan Stevenson from a young age, it’s wonderful to see all the layers of his personality translate through certain songs on the album, from his quiet exterior to his unquestionable musical presence, making the music all the more poignant.
‘Summer was Our Holy Place’ features Short and Baptiste on the horn parts and is a wonderful celebration of all of these talented musicians coming together.
It is clear to see and hear that Sultan Stevenson is an exciting breath of fresh air in the jazz world. The talent emanating from this young musician is electrifying, and it’s only the beginning.
Reviewed by Isabel Marquez